'I still can't process that he is gone. It feels like a bad dream.'
Pritam is distraught.
He still can'T believe that never again will he be able to compose a song with his favourite singer in mind.
KK and Pritam were an unbeatable combination with several chartbusters to their credit.
Flashbacking to some of their biggest hits, the singer-composer tells Rediff.com Senior Contributor Roshmila Bhattacharya, "KK had always been a vibrant, jovial, man, who would laugh, joke and chat a lot, which made our recording sessions fun."
One of my friends from Kolkata messaged me late on Tuesday night, informing me that KK was gone.
Initially, I dismissed it as fake news.
For a long time, I refused to believe that it was true.
Something like this couldn't happen to KK, who didn't drink, was extremely disciplined and would often chide me, 'Kya kar raha hai? (What are you doing?), staying up all night, focus on your health!'
He was always fit, looked much younger than his 53 years.
In fact, when his son Nakul and he were together, they looked like brothers.
Even at the peak of his career, KK didn't do too many shows or hustle for songs.
He was happy and content with what he got.
So what happened in Kolkata to trigger a massive heart attack?
Was it the heat?
Is there any truth to the rumours that the air-conditioners weren't working properly?
'I totally flipped for his debut solo album Pal'
My association with KK goes back to 1998, to the first Hindi film I gave music to, Sanjay Gadhvi's Tere Liye.
I sang a version of the title track, along with Jee Lenge, with Sonu (Nigam) and KK.
Even before I got into films, we were doing a lot of jingles.
I had totally flipped for his debut solo, the Indie pop studio, Pal, which released in 1999.
I loved the title track Pyaar Ke Pal, would listen to it on the loop.
I called him up and said, 'How beautifully you have sung this song!'
I conceived several songs with him in mind'
He was my favourite singer and I conceived several songs with KK in mind, including Zara Sa Dil Mein De Jagah Tu (Jannat), Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai (Gangster), Alvida (Life In A... Metro) and Tu Jo Mila (Bajrangi Bhaijaan).
He sang so well that I never had to think of anyone else.
With his kind of prodigious talent, I knew KK would take the song to another level.
His voice throw was amazing. He could go from soft passages to full voice rockfish rendition effortlessly, and even in high pitch rockish phrases, he could express emotions brilliantly.
Though he was a Malayali, since he was born and brought up in Delhi, his Hindi diction and pronunciation was flawless.
Being a writer himself, he felt every word and emoted accordingly, and without trying too hard, he made every song his own.
'I played Alvida for him long before it was recorded'
One of the most difficult songs in my repertoire is Alvida and I played it for KK long before I recorded it for Life In A... Metro.
This was during those days when I didn't have a single film on hand.
We were recording together at Mumbai's Galactica Studio and during a break, I strummed Alvida on my guitar.
He loved it and I told him that one day, I would include it in a film score, and he could sing it.
KK was so excited, he would keep asking me when we were recording it.
Alvida, along with the other Life In A... Metro songs, brought rock into Hindi film music. It remains one of our most iconic tracks!
'He had a distinctive style, but for one song, I made him change it'
We recorded Zara Sa Dil Mein De Jagah twice.
The first time he had gone with a softer rendition, but it wasn't working in the film.
So he came back to Empire Studio and we recorded the Jannat song again, this time with KK singing it like a rockstar.
He was one himself, had his own rock band.
He had a distinctive style, but for one song, I made him change it.
When we were doing Lobon Ko Labon Se Sajao for Bhool Bhulaiya, I made him add vibrato that made his voice sound different.
He went out of his way to oblige me, he was that kind of a guy.
'He was so proud when his son Nakul had started a rock band'
We met for the last time in November 2021 when he came to sing Yeh Hausle for '83, but that was just a brief meeting.
We spent more time together while shooting the video for our Chhichhore song, Kal Hi Ki Baat Hai in 2019, just before the coronavirus-triggered lockdown.
Besides music, he spoke about his family and the holidays they took together.
KK had always been a vibrant, jovial, man, who would laugh, joke and chat a lot, which made our recording sessions fun.
He was a very responsible man, be it his family or work.
You knew you could always depend on him.
Once you gave him a song, you knew he would see it through.
There wasn't too much of a difference from the young KK of the '90s and the older KK.
KK had always been a family man, whose life revolved around his wife Jyothy and his children, Nakul and Tamara.
I still can't process that he is gone. It feels like a bad dream.
What makes it worse is that I won't be able to attend the funeral because I am down with COVID.