Salim Merchant recalls KK’s selfless act, says late singer surrendered ‘Aashayein’ chorus to him

Singer Krishnakumar Kunnath, popularly known as KK, died at the age of 53 on Tuesday night. With thousands of advertising jingles under his belt, KK went on to become one of the most prominent and well-respected playback singers of his generation, having performed songs across languages and industries.

Among his most popular numbers is “Aashayein,” from the sports drama film Iqbal, directed by Nagesh Kukunoor and starring Shreyas Talpade. He also performed the song at what would be his final live performance, at the Nazrul Mancha in Kolkata on Tuesday.

The song was composed by the duo Salim-Sulaiman, and in a new interview with The Times of India after KK’s death, Salim Merchant recalled how the selfless KK insisted that he, Salim, sing the song’s chorus instead. “He was the lead singer, but he had the heart and foresight to let me sing an important part,” Salim said, adding that KK was ‘cut from a different cloth’ and that unlike many others in the film industry, he was ‘totally secure about his skill and his art’. In an Instagram post condoling his death, Salim wrote, “My brother KK 💔💔💔 I’m speechless & broken with you leaving us so suddenly…you sang your heart out brother 💔💔 ..: till the very last day.”


KK had excitedly shared pictures and videos from the Kolkata concert on social media, but began feeling unwell shortly after reaching his hotel. A PTI report cited a doctor as saying, “KK was brought to the hospital around 10 pm. It’s unfortunate that we could not treat him.” According to the same report, the singer is suspected to have gone into cardiac arrest. Some people who attended the concert claimed that the singer was uncomfortable with the stuffy conditions at the venue, and had even complained about it to the organisers.

Condolences poured in from all quarters. PM Narendra Modi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, and scores of entertainment industry personalities such as Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Sonu Nigam, Harshdeep Kaur, and Vishal Dadlani were among those who paid tribute to the singer.

KK is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.


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