Questions over death of Indian singer KK shortly after concert | music news

Krishnakumar Kunnath, better known as KK, dies at 53 following a concert in Kolkata city, prompting a flood of tributes – and questions.

Indian singer Krishnakumar Kunnath, better known as KK, has died after falling ill in the middle of a concert, with the incident questions over arrangements at the venue raising.

Kunnath, 53, was performing on Tuesday night at a packed auditorium in Kolkata, capital of the eastern Indian state of West Bengal when he complained of uneasiness.

He was hit to the hospital from his hotel at about 10:30pm local time (1700 GMT), where doctors pronounced him dead, local media reports said.

Van carrying the body of Indian singer Krishnakumar Kunnath in Kolkata, India [Piyal Adhikary/EPA]

Tributes to the singer poured in on social media, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several Bollywood singers and actors expressing condolences.

“His songs reflected a wide range of emotions as [they] struck a chord with people of all age groups. We will always remember him through his songs,” Modi said on Twitter.

Questions over arrangements

While the cause of the singer’s death remains unknown and an autopsy is expected later on Wednesday, questions are being raised about the arrangements at Kolkata’s Nazrul Mancha auditorium, where the air conditioning was allegedly not working properly.

In a report, India’s NDTV news channel said videos shot by fans at the concert showed the singer “sweating profusely as he took a break to wipe his face”.

“At one point, KK was seen gesturing to a man on stage and appeared to be talking about the air conditioning,” said the report.

Many on social media said the auditorium, with a capacity of 2,400 people, was overcrowded.

Authorities in West Bengal have launched an investigation into the singer’s death.

Indian singer KK
KK during a concert in Mumbai [File: Sujit Jaiswal/AFP]

Aroop Biswas, a government minister in West Bengal, said Kunnath died of a “suspected cardiac arrest”.

But police said they are probing whether he died an “unnatural death”, with media reports saying there were injuries to his face and head.

“We are also talking to the hotel authorities and scrutinizing CCTV footage to understand what had happened before he was taken to the hospital,” said police officer Sanjoy Mukherjee.

‘Gone too soon’

Kunnath had sung several songs for Bollywood films and music albums and frequently performed at live concerts.

Born in Delhi, the versatile singer recorded songs in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi and Bengali, among other languages.

His hits from the 2000s included “Aankhon mein teri” (In your eyes) from the movie Om Shanti Om and “Khuda jaane” (God knows) from Bachna Ae Haseeno.

One of the Hindi songs that he sang at his last concert included “Pal” (Moment) that has the lyrics “whether we live or not, we will remember this moment”.

“I cannot believe that such a talented artist left us this way. He had two back-to-back programs in Kolkata,” music composer Anupam Roy said.

Fans paid tribute on an Instagram post put up by his management with photos showing KK singing in front of a roaring crowd.

“Rest in peace legend, you will always be in our heart,” wrote one user.

“You’re gone too soon!!!!!!” commented another.

The Indian film industry has lost a string of luminaries in recent years, including iconic singer Lata Mangeshkar at 92 in February this year and legendary actor Dilip Kumar in 2021 at 98.

The year before, India lost much-loved singer SP Balasubrahmanyam as well as actors Irrfan Khan, Rishi Kapoor and Sushant Singh Rajput.

On Sunday, Sidhu Moose Wala, a popular Punjabi rapper at home and among the Indian diaspora in Britain and Canada, was shot dead in the northwestern Punjab state. Police believe the killing was related to organized crime.

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