From Teenage Crushes To Heartbreaks: How KK's Music Defined A Generation

From Teenage Crushes To Heartbreaks: How KK's Music Defined A Generation
 As I write, I recall a pictorial montage that I had made using one of Krishnakumar Kunnath’s (KK) songs: Yaaron as the backdrop. I had made this video around the time some of my friends and I had completed our studies and were ready to start working; this was circa 2006. Using this song was an obvious choice, since it truly defined the relationship that us friends share – to date:

Teri har ek buraai pe daante vo dost

Gam ki ho dhoop to saaya bane tera vo dost

Naache bhi vo, Teri khushi main

And this is the thing with most of KKs songs – in that each reflects a wide range of emotions and strikes a chord with people of all age groups. We’ve celebrated life and friendships with ‘Hai Junoon’ and cried to ‘Pal’ when making our way through this thing called life. A lot of us would agree that songs like ‘Koi Kahe, Kehta Rahe’ and ‘Dus Bahane’ defined our generation; these are songs that a lot of us still bop around to. Many of us would agree that ‘Humdum Soniyo’ was the love anthem of the early 2000’s; with a unique combination of peppy beats and heart touching lyrics, Humdum Soniyo would be a perfect addition to anyone’s wedding playlist. And ‘Ab Tu Forever’ became our life’s theme when we understood that if it was true love, then it would definitely be forever. Then recall how ‘Chhor Aye Hum’ supported our strong resolve to never indulge in a love affair again.

So when I woke up to news of his death Wednesday morning, I realized that KK wasn't just a singer or an artist, he was an emotion. This hit harder, when a friend of mine re-shared my montage with me. She added a note, reminiscing how KKs songs defined our youth, teenage crushes and heartbreaks and lust for life. His songs essentially represent a bucket load of memories which bring back vivid images of my past. Most of his songs are etched in my heart and soul and create a picture of a life I once lived. 

In a previous blogpost, I mentioned sharing old Pakistani songs over WhatsApp – in an attempt to (somehow) keep their memory alive. Over the past two or three days, some of us exchanged music that KK produced – again to relive the memories attached to those songs. 

In the process, we also exchanged memories and emotions attached to each of these songs. One friend said that every lyric – to each of his songs was somehow imprinted onto his brain like a muscle memory and that the night of KKs death, he played his songs in the hope that his voice somehow pieced our hearts back together. Another person predicted a very nostalgic future for every 90s kid who loved KKs music. 

And there was this other person who recalled the tedious (and somehow very entertaining) process of downloading KKs songs from and a couple decades ago. This person gave a detailed account of what it took to actually get to these songs: how he used dialup internet connections (using scratch cards and keeping our landlines tied up for that much time), searching for albums / songs, downloading them at the speed of a few KBs per second and then transferring these songs onto USBs with capacities of 256 MBs – since bigger USBs were unheard of at the time. He would ultimately connect his earplugs to the USB and enjoy the song. A lot of effort was involved, but for KKs songs – it was completely worth it. 

Somehow, though, Pal – as a song, has been on top of all our minds: maybe because of its simplicity or how it speaks about the power of goodbyes and memories – well after the memory-makers have left. But maybe there is an irony attached to Pal being on the top of our minds: in that this was the last song performed by the one person who gave us all these songs. The evolution of Pal as an album is very interesting. Sony Music International was looking for a debut artist around the same time that KK was looking to launch his own album. This was in 1998 and KK was selected after some two or four meetings. Later in the same year, he recorded Tadap-Tadap from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and released Pal in 1999.

KKs death is a reality that should resonate with the masses; it should serve as a reminder of how fast life has moved on, how it’s been 16 years since I used Yaaron in my pictorial montage. Of how I and so many others around me have aged. 16 years of hustle where I have been busy making a life for myself – but perhaps too busy to appreciate what I have. In a way, KKs death took me back to memories of simpler, happier times in life – where the younger me used his songs to understand the everyday nuances of life. 

Maybe this is what they mean when they say we do not realize or understand the incredible power that music has on our lives. Notice how some songs trigger a sudden rush of memories – of times gone by and people who have either left us or whom we have left at some point in the course of our life’s journeys. And what makes this magical is how music transcends geographical boundaries – I know a lot of people on my side of “that border” would wholeheartedly agree. 

Now, here’s the thing. As I now listen to his songs post his death, I am somehow transported back to my adolescence – that as we speak, seems several lifetimes ago; I take solace in knowing that these memories would always be my shelter from a rapidly changing world. And maybe I want to hold onto those memories a little longer, take stock of everything / everyone that I am blessed to have in life and be thankful to KK for all the memories and music. 

Because let's accept, how many do they make like him anymore?