KK or Kay Kay (1968-2022) was an Indian singer, who is known for recording songs in various languages like Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Bengali, Assamese, and Gujarati. He is well known for his popular soulful songs “Kya Mujhe Pyaar Hai” from Woh Lamhe… (2006), “Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai” from Gangster (2007), “Aankhon Mein Teri” from Om Shanti Om (2007), “Khuda Jane” from Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008), and “Tu Jo Mila” from Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015).” On 31 May 2022, he died of a suspected cardiac arrest at Nazrul Mancha auditorium in Kolkata.
Krishna Kumar Kunnath The Hindu was born on Friday, 23 August 1968 (age 53 years; at the time of death) in Delhi. His zodiac sign is Virgo. He did his schooling at Mount St Mary’s School, Delhi. Thereafter, he pursued a course in commerce at Kirori Mal College, Delhi. The New Indian Express After his graduation, he relocated to Mumbai, Maharashtra, where he embarked on his career as a singer. KK was a vocalist since childhood and grew up participating in competitions and rock bands in school and college. In an interview, he revealed that he enrolled in a music class for a while during his childhood, but as he had never felt the need to learn music, he quit. He said,
I went there only for three days. I hated it because for me music had no boundaries and I couldn’t understand why one needed to learn singing. So I left, and I never went back.”
Height (approx.): 5′ 5″
Eye Colour: Black
Hair Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
KK belonged to a Malayali family hailing from Kerala’s Thrissur district. The Print His father’s name is C. S. Nair and his mother’s name is Kunnath Kanakavalli.
Wife & Children
In 1991, KK got married to his longtime girlfriend Jyothy Lakshmi Krishna. She is a professional painter.
Together, they have a son, Nakul Krishna Kunnath, and a daughter, Tamara Kunnath. Both of them are singers, music composers, and music producers.
KK proposed to his girlfriend, Jyothy Lakshmi, in 10th standard. In an interview, he revealed that he sang “Pyaar Deewana Hota Hai” for Jyothy at his colony’s annual function. While talking about the same, he said,
Uss time mummy papa bhi baithe hote the, toh aise direct bhi nahi ho sakte the, toh beech beech mein teen chaar baar steal kar liya gaate gaate”
(At that time our parents also used to be there, so I couldn’t be so direct. So, I used to steal glances while singing)
Back then, he was unemployed, so he secured a job in sales to marry her. He pursued the sales job for six months in order to be an eligible groom. Amusingly narrating his love story during an interview, he said,
Job karni zaroori thi, nahi toh main agar bolta ki main gaata hun, toh vo bolte gaata toh main bhi hun, kaam kya karte ho?”
(It was necessary for me to take up a job else they would have asked me what do I do, and they would have ignored me if I said I sing)
Before venturing into the music industry, he worked in the marketing department in the hotel industry for a while, and then he moved to Mumbai. After numerous frustrating attempts to break into the Bollywood music circuit, KK secured the opportunity to work as a jingle singer when he presented his demo tapes to Louis Banks, Ranjit Barot and Lesle Lewis in 1994. Soon, he got a break from UTV, and he sang a one-minute jingle for Santogen Suitings.
He had sung over 3,500 jingles in eleven Indian languages including Yo Frooti and Pepsi’s Yeh Dil Mange More. KK also lent his voice to the song ‘Josh of India’ for the support of the Indian Cricket Team during the 1999 Cricket World Cup.
KK was introduced as a playback singer with the songs “College Style” and “Hello Dr” composed by A. R. Rahman, which featured in the film Duniya Dilwalon Ki (1996), a Hindi dubbed version of the Tamil film Kadhal Desam (1996). KK also voiced the Telugu versions of the songs. In the following year, he voiced the song “Strawberry Kannae” for the Tamil film Minsara Kanavu and its Hindi version “Strawberry Ankhein” for the dubbed version Sapnay. In 2004, ventured into the Kannada film industry when he voiced the songs “Elu Bannada” and “Maargayare” in the film Love (2004). He also voiced the songs “Yedu Rangula Prema” and “Maargayare” in the Telugu version of the film titled ‘Prema Nagar.’
In 1999, he came to the limelight with his debut album, Pal, released via Sony Music India and composed by Lesle Lewis. The songs “Pal” and “Yaaron” from the album gained immense popularity among the ’90s youth and were commonly played in school and college farewells at that time.
Although KK gained massive recognition with his debut album, he chose to pursue a career in playback singing instead of producing independent music for garnering the fame that Bollywood offers. While talking about the same in an interview, he said,
For me both ‘Pal’ and ‘Tadap tadap’ from ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ happened at the same time. There were suddenly two roads in front of me. I felt that one couldn’t beat the popularity the filmy route can give. To make your own music, one has to disconnect from the surrounding, which I didn’t intend to.”
In 2008, he released his second album, Humsafar, which featured the song Raina Bhai Kaari, a mix of Bengali Baul with rock and a tinge of S D Burman.
KK made his Bollywood debut as a playback singer with Indian music composer Vishal Bhardwaj‘s song ‘Chhod Aaye Hum Galiyan Chhod Aaye Hum’ in the action drama film Maachis (1996). The song was collaboratively sung by Hariharan, Suresh Wadkar, Vinod Sehgal, and KK. In 1999, KK gained popularity with A.R. Rahman’s chartbuster soundtrack ‘Tadap Tadap,’ featured in the film Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Another crowd puller song voiced by him is “Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe” from the 2001 coming-of-age film ‘Dil Chahta Hai;’ the song was collaboratively voiced by Shankar Mahadevan, Shaan, and KK. He had numerous popular playback credits under his belt including ‘Such Keh Raha Hai’ from Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein (2001), ‘Zara Sa’ and ‘Dil Ibaadat’ from Jannat (2008), and ‘Piya Aaye Na’ from Aashiqui 2 (2013). His last released song was ‘Yeh Hausle’ from the film 83 (2021).
In the 2000 Assamese music album ‘Mann,’ he lent his voice to the songs “Man Dilo” and “Kajol Tumi.” His song “Cineraria,” from the album Humsafar (2008) is an English rock number. He voiced his first Malayalam song “Rahasyamay” in 2009 for the film Puthiya Mukham. He voiced his Bengali song, Akasher Nile, in 2011 for the film Faande Poriya Boga Kaande Re. In 2013, KK lent his voice to the song “Rose of My Heart” for an international album “Rise Up (Colors of Peace),” by Turkish poet Fethullah Gülen. The album contained songs sung by different artists from 12 countries. The song “Ved Lagale Hey” from the film Friendship Dot Com (2014) marked KK’s debut in the Marathi film industry. Thereafter, he lent his voice to various Marathi songs like “Hi Tarunai” from Spandan (2017). His debut Gujarati song was “Tari Mari Vato,” which was featured in the film Order Order Out Of Order (2018).
He was a jury member for the talent hunt show Fame Gurukul (2005). He also featured in MTV Coke studio in which he recomposed a version of his song ‘Tu Aashiqui Hain’. Other Tv shows in which he appeared to include the Sony Mix TV Show and MTV Unplugged Season 3. He had voiced title songs of numerous TV series like Just Mohabbat, Shaka Laka Boom Boom, Kuch Jhuki Si Palkein, Hip Hip Hurray, Kkavyanjali, and Just Dance. In 2008, KK sang a song named “Tanha Chala” for the Pakistani TV show The Ghost. Apart from that, he collaborated with Shreya Ghoshal for the theme song for Star Parivaar Awards (2010).
- Best Singer in Non-Film Music category at Screen Awards (1999) for the album Pal
- National Award for “Tu Aashiqui Hai” from the film “Jhankaar Beats” in 2003
- Goldie Film Awards, US for the Best Playback Singer Male for the song “Chalte Jaana Hain” from the film “Life! Camera Action…” in 2012
- Best Playback Singer (Male) at Screen Awards (2009) for the song “Khuda Jaane” from the film Bachna Ae Haseeno
- Hub Awards for Best Playback Singer Male in 2005
- Filmfare Awards South (Kannada) 2010 in the category of Best Playback Singer- Male
- Eenam-Swaralaya Singer Of The Year Award (2012)
On 31 May 2022, he died of a suspected cardiac arrest after reaching his hotel, following a performance at Nazrul Mancha auditorium in Kolkata. Reportedly, around 10.30 p.m., when the singer reached his hotel, he complained of feeling unwell following which he was rushed to a city hospital, where he was declared brought dead. The Hindu However, the Kolkata Police registered it as an unnatural death case. Reportedly, his face and head bore injuries, hence an autopsy was scheduled to be conducted at SSKM Hospital in Kolkata to ascertain the cause of death. He was cremated at Versova Hindu Cemetery, Mumbai.
- Cuisine: South Indian, Italian
- Singer(s): Kishore Kumar, R.D. Burman, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Bryan Adams
- Music Band(s): Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Extreme, Eagles
- The first ever song he performed on stage was Fernando by ABBA.
- He credited Lesle Lewis for being his mentor in the world of advertising jingles.
- KK’s 13-year-old son, Nakul, sang a song titled ‘Masti’ with him in his album Humsafar (2008).
- He belonged to a family with a musical background as his father was very fond of music, his mother performed music, and his maternal grandmother was a music teacher.
- His interest in music began during his school days. He used to listen to his mother’s Malayali songs, which his father used to record in a little tape recorder.
- He gave his first stage performance during his school days when was studying in Class 2. He sang ‘Jab Andhera Hota Hai’ from the film “Raja Rani (1973).”
- On his wedding day, he sang Mohammed Rafi’s song “Tere Mere Sapne Ab Ek Rang Hain” for his wife.
- After he sang his first jingle, Music director Ranjit Barot approached KK about the cost of his work. Completely unaware of the payment system of the industry, KK was apprehensive to answer. Later, when Ranjit flashed his five fingers, KK expected he will be paid Rs. 500, but, to his astonishment, he received Rs. 5000.
- The song ‘Maa’ from the film “Taare Zameen Par (2007),” was initially recorded by KK. After recording the song KK went on a vacation. He was later asked to make a few changes to the song, but as he was unable to do so, the song went to Shankar Mahadevan.
- In August 2021, he bought an Audi RS5.