When Kishore Kumar married Madhubala, he extended his honeymoon period by singing and composing the music for Jhumroo (1961). He romanced his lady-love as her leading man yodelling ‘Main Hoon Jhum Jhum Jhum Jhum Jhumroo.’ The movie is a showcase of his many talents, including slapstick bordering on juvenilia.
But even amidst the madness, Kishore Kumar had a moment when he did not have to entertain. That was when he sang the elegiac one-for-the road song, Koi Humdum Na Raha. The plaintive melody has a contemplative silence, with a forlorn Jhumroo (Kishore Kumar's name in the film) trudging through the misty woods, longing for the affections of his separated lover.
In a departure from his mainstay of frolicsome numbers, this pathos-ridden sung of Kishore Kumar's has a haunting presence both in the film and for music aficionados. Koi Humdum Na Raha is often regarded as one of his best songs.
However, none of this would have materalised had it not been for his elder brother, actor – and occasional singer – Ashok Kumar. Kishore Kumar was five years old when he heard Ashok Kumar sing Koi Humdum Na Raha for his debut film, Jeevan Naiya (1936), with the music composed by Saraswati Devi. He used to sing the song often during his riyaz as a childhood.
Twenty-five years later, when Kishore Kumar was composing the music for Jhumroo, he went to his brother asking for permission to sing Koi Humdum Na Raha for his film. Dadamoni, as Ashok Kumar was fondly referred to, tried to dissuade Kishore, saying it was an intricate metre to compose.
Kishore joked, "I don’t know about that but I will sing it and I will sing it better than you." And with that playful exchange of words, he created an immortal song. Ashok Kumar remembers the time in this video. You can listen to the two versions and decide which one is better.
Of all the covers since, Kishore Kumar’s son Amit Kumar’s version takes the story poignantly forward within the family. Perhaps it's ironic that the second line of the song goes: "Hum kissi ke na rahe, koi hamara na raha."