Many thanks to a commenter signing as SK, who supplied the articles and information that helped me to find five excellent dances starring Krishna Kumar. Thanks also go to Tom Daniel, who supplied most of the videos and pointed out some more information here. All of this information came up in the latest comments to an old post about Azurie (with the pertinent section starting here). So, as with the very extensive Cuckoo discussion that I’ve referred to quite a few times, I have decided to call attention to the comments up front, in a new blog post.
My knowledge of Krishna Kumar is sketchy, but I’ll take a stab at it. (And I hope that I didn’t just accidentally make a terrible pun! Or was he shot? Or poisoned? More below, if you don’t know what I’m talking about…)
Krishna was in a dancing team with his brother Surya Kumar during the Vintage era, and they both also trained other dancers and worked as choreographers. Unfortunately, Krishna Kumar’s career came to an abrupt end sometime before the completion of the film Awara (1951), when he was murdered.
I do not know how or why Krishna Kumar was murdered, but I will accept it as a fact because it’s been mentioned by a few commenters, on this site as well as at my YouTube channel. (Unfortunately, Google seems to be fairly worthless for getting more information about this subject, or at least it was in the short time that I could stand struggling with that search engine.) Apparently, the time of his death was 1950 or (probably) 1951. In Awara, he is referred to as “Late Krishna Kumar,” in credits that also include Surya Kumar and Simkie. (Simkie is best known as Uday Shankars dance partner. She choreographed the famous dream sequence.) Surya continued to dance and choreograph after his brother’s death, and his work has been highly praised by some people around here (e.g., Tom again). Maybe he will be the subject of another post in the future.
Krishna Kumar’s presence in most of these dances was confirmed only after some mystery and difficulty. In fact, I learned of his presence in four of these five dances only from the aforementioned discussion. Out of all of them, the snake dance in Dastan was the only one that I had figured out, myself, after some investigation.
It is a shame that it is so difficult to find the identity of male dancers in many of these films. And I guess one has to become pretty well versed in the details of Vintage and Golden Age Hindi films before learning about the choreographers. It is a very different case from, say, the music directors, who are sometimes considered an attraction equal to the stars and film directors (or even above them). I think that the music directors deserve that recognition, but, then, why isn’t anything close to the same attention paid to the choreographers? In any event, it is always good to find out who the choreographers are, and sometimes it’s a lot of fun solving that mystery.
The most prominent of these Krishna Kumar dances, in my mind, is the one from Ratan (1944). At first, it took me a little while even to find out that the female dancer here is Azurie, something which a handful of other people knew or found out, too. But until the other day, no one whom I’d been in touch with here knew who the male dancer was. A lot of people commented on how good he was; he was actually even better than Azurie. But I didn’t get any information about his identity until SK supplied an article that mentioned this fact (and then Tom pointed it out). So, anyway, here – once again – is the excellent dance from Ratan, starring Krishna Kumar and Azurie:
As I mentioned, the first dance in which I saw Krishna Kumar (i.e., knowing that he was Krishna Kumar) is the snake dance in Dastan:
Isn’t that one great? Unfortunately, the female dancer was not credited, either, and she might still be something of a mystery. A commenter identified her as Cuckoo, which surprised me. This commenter, Vinod Arya, was also probably the first one to inform me about the murder of Krishna Kumar, so he seems to know what he’s talking about. But on this blog, Mel, who is an incredible Cuckoo expert, dismissed the idea, saying that this “South Asian” dancer was definitely not Cuckoo. (I guess he put it that way because she does not look Anglo enough, for one thing?) She does dance a lot like Cuckoo, though. Could it be Cuckoo with really good make-up? I’d still like to have this one solved…
SK is the one who informed me of all the following Krishna Kumar dances. The next two, from Beqasoor (1950), are quite delightful, and I don’t think anyone who knows old Hindi films should have a problem recognizing his female partner as Madhubala.
And, finally, I’ll close with the most amusing of the bunch, which comes from Jadoo (1951). Here, Krishna Kumar dances with Nalini Jaywant and Sharda. I do not know much about this film (I’ve only skimmed through the beginning, and without subtitles), but I will have to find out more sometime. Does it take place in Mexico? Very curious…