Kishore Kumar was an Indian film playback singer and an actor who also worked as lyricist, composer, producer, director, screenwriter and scriptwriter. Kishore Kumar sang in many Indian languages including Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, Bhojpuri, Malayalam and Oriya. He was the winner of 8 Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback Singer and holds the record for most number of Filmfare Awards won for that category
Kishore Kumar was born into the Ganguly family in Khandwa, Central Provinces and Berar (now in Madhya Pradesh) as Abhas Kumar Ganguly. His father Kunjalal Ganguly (Gangopadhya) was a lawyer. His mother Gouri Devi came from a wealthy family. Kishore was the youngest of four siblings, the other three being Ashok Kumar (the eldest), Sati Devi, and Anoop Kumar.
While Kishore was still a child, Ashok Kumar became a Bollywood actor. (Later, Anoop Kumar also ventured into cinema with the help of Ashok Kumar). Spending time with his brothers, Kishore also started to take a keen interest in movies and music. He became a fan of singer-actor Kundan Lal Saigal, whom he considered his guru, and tried to follow Saigal's singing style.
After Ashok Kumar became a Bollywood star, the Ganguly family used to visit Mumbai regularly. Abhas Kumar changed his name to Kishore Kumar and started his cinema career as a chorus singer at Bombay Talkies, where his brother worked. His first film as an actor was Shikari (1946), in which Ashok Kumar played the lead role. Music director Khemchand Prakash gave him a chance to sing the song Marne ki duayen kyon mangu for the film Ziddi (1948). After this, Kishore Kumar got many other assignments, but he was not very serious about a film career. In 1949, he decided to settle in Mumbai.
Kishore Kumar played hero in the Bombay Talkies film Andolan (1951), directed by Phani Majumdar. Although Kishore Kumar got some assignments as an actor with help of his brother, he was more interested in becoming a singer. He was not interested in acting, but his elder brother Ashok Kumar wanted him to be an actor like himself.
He starred in Bimal Roy's Naukri (1954) and Hrishikesh Mukherjee's directorial debut Musafir (1957). Salil Chowdhury, the music director for Naukri was initially dismissive of him as a singer, when he came to know that Kishore Kumar didn't have any formal training in music. However, after hearing his voice, he gave him the song Chhota sa ghar hoga, which was supposed to be sung by Hemant Kumar.
Kishore Kumar starred in films New Delhi (1957), Aasha (1957), Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), Half Ticket (1962), and Padosan (1968). Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, his home production, starred the three Ganguly brothers, and Madhubala. The film is about romance between a city girl (Madhubala) and a car mechanic (Kishore Kumar), with a subplot involving brothers.
Music director S. D. Burman is credited with spotting Kishore Kumar's talent as a singer, and advancing his singing career. During the making of Mashaal (1950), Burman visited Ashok Kumar's house, where he heard Kishore imitating K. L. Saigal. He complimented Kishore, but also told him that he should develop a style of his own, instead of copying Saigal. Kishore Kumar did not have a formal training in music. He kept Burman's advice in mind, and eventually developed his own style of singing, which featured the yodeling that he had heard on some records of Jimmie Rodgers bought by his brother Anoop Kumar.
S. D. Burman recorded with Kishore for Dev Anand's Munimji (1954), Taxi Driver (1954), House No. 44 (1955), Funtoosh (1956), Nau Do Gyarah (1957), Paying Guest (1957), Guide (1965), Jewel Thief (1967), Prem Pujari (1970), and Tere Mere Sapne (1971). He also composed music for Kishore Kumar's home production Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958). Some of their initial films included the songs "Maana Janaab Ne Pukara Nahin" from Paying Guest, "Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke" from Nau Do Gyarah (1957), "Ai Meri Topi Palat Ke Aa" from Funtoosh, and "Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi Si" and "Haal Kaisa Hai Janaab Ka" from Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958). When S. D. Burman was not on good terms with Lata Mangeshkar during 1957-62, he gave patronage to her younger sister, Asha Bhosle. The Asha Bhosle-Kishore Kumar duets composed by S. D. Burman include "Chhod Do Aanchal" from Paying Guest (1957), "Ankhon Mein Kya Ji" from Nau Do Gyarah (1957), "Haal Kaisa Hai Janaab Ka" and "Paanch Rupaiya Baara Aana" from Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), "Chhedo Na Meri Zulfein" from Ganga Ki Lahren (1964), and "Arre Yaar Meri Tum Bhi Ho Gajab" from [Teen Devian|Teen Deviyan] (1965).
C. Ramchandra was another music director who recognized Kishore Kumar's talent as a singer. and their collaborations include Eena Meena Deeka from Aasha (1957). Kishore Kumar's work includes, Nakhrewaali from New Delhi (1956) by Shankar Jaikishan, and C.A.T. Cat Maane Billi and Hum To Mohabbat Karega from Dilli Ka Thug (1958) by Ravi.
Kishore Kumar produced, directed, and acted in the film Jhumroo (1961). He wrote the lyrics for the title song, Main Hoon Jhumroo, and composed music for all the songs in the film. Later, he produced and directed the film Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein (1964). He also wrote the script and composed music for the film. The film is based on the relationship between a father (Kishore Kumar), and his deaf and mute son (played by his real-life son, Amit Kumar). He made another two films called Door Ka Rahi (1971) and Door Waadiyon Mein Kahin (1980).
In the 1960s, as an actor, Kishore Kumar built up a notoriety for coming late for the shootings, or bunking them altogether. His films flopped frequently, and he also landed in income tax trouble. As a singer, his work in this period includes "Zaroorat Hai Zaroorat Hai" from Manmauji (1961), "Gaata Rahe Mera Dil" from Guide (1964), and "Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechara" from Jewel Thief (1967).
In the late 1960s, Rahul Dev Burman worked together on the soundtrack of the film Padosan (1968), in which Kishore Kumar sang the songs "Mere Saamne Wali Khidki Mein" and "Kehna Hai". Padosan was a comedy film starring Kishore Kumar as a dramatist-musician, Mehmood as a Carnatic music and dance teacher, and Sunil Dutt as a simpleton named Bhola. Kishore Kumar's character in the film was inspired by the personality of Kishore's own uncle, Dhananjay Bannerjee (a classical singer). The highlight of the film was a musical, comical duel between Kishore Kumar-Sunil Dutt and Mehmood, Ek Chatur Nar Karke Singaar.
Rise to fame
In 1969, Shakti Samanta produced and directed the film Aradhana, for which the music was composed by S. D. Burman. S. D. Burman fell ill after recording some duet songs with Mohammed Rafi, Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar. Afterwards, his son and assistant R. D. Burman took over the recording. R. D. Burman got Kishore Kumar to solo sing the songs "Mere Sapno Ki Rani" and "Roop Tera Mastana". Kishore Kumar won his first Filmfare award for the song "Roop Tera Mastana". Aradhana was also the turning point of Rajesh Khanna
Kishore Kumar sang for all leading actors in 1970s & 1980s, including Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Sanjeev Kumar, Dev Anand, Shashi Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Mithun Chakraborty, Sanjay Dutt, Sunny Deol, Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff.
S. D. Burman and Kishore continued to churn out several songs together, including "Phoolon Ke Rang Se" and "Shokhiyon Mein Ghola Jaaye" from Prem Pujari (1969), "Aaj Madhosh Hua Jaaye Re", "Khilte Hain Gul Yahan" and "O Meri Sharmilee" from Sharmilee (1971), "Meet na mila" from Abhimaan (1973), "Pyaar Ke Is Khel Mein" from Jugnu. In 1975, S. D. Burman composed his last song for Kishore Kumar. S. D. Burman went into a coma for the second time, soonafter Kishore recorded the song "Badi Sooni Sooni Hai Zindagi" for the film Mili.
R. D. Burman frequently used Kishore Kumar as the male singer, and recorded several songs with him in the 1970s. Some Kishore Kumar-R. D. Burman songs include "O Maajhi Re" from Khushboo, "Yeh Shaam Mastaani" and "Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai" from Kati Patang (1971), "Kuchh To Log Kahenge" from Amar Prem (1972), "Raat Kali Ek Khwab Mein Aayi" from Buddha Mil Gaya (1971), "Musafir Hoon Yaaron" from Parichay (1972), "Diye Jalte Hain" from Namak Haraam (1973), "Meri Bheegi Bheegi Si" from Anamika (1973), "Zindagi Ke Safar Mein" from Aap Ki Kasam (1974), "Agar Tum Na Hote", Humein Tum Se Pyaar Kitna from Kudrat, "Mere Naina Saawan Bhadon" from Mehbooba, and "Chingari Koi Bhadke" (Amar Prem), "Jab Bhi Koi Kangana" from Shaukeen (1986). R. D. Burman also recorded several duets pairing Kishore Kumar with Asha Bhosle and with Lata Mangeshkar. Some of these duets include "Panna Ki Tamanna" from Heera Panna (1973), "Neend Chura Ke Raaton Mein" from the film Shareef Budmaash, "Kya Yehi Pyaar Hai" from Sanjay Dutt's debut film Rocky (1981), "Sagar Kinare" from Sagar in , "Aap Ki Aankhon Mein Kuchh" from Ghar, "Jaane Ja Dhoondta" and "Nahi Nahi" from Jawani Diwani, "Kharoshoo" from Harjai (1982).
Apart from the Burmans, Kishore Kumar worked with other music directors as well. The composer duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal (L-P) also composed many songs sung by Kishore Kumar. Some of their songs include Mere Mehboob Qayamat Hogi from Mr. X In Bombay, Mere Naseeb Mein Aye Dost from Do Raaste, Yeh Jeevan Hai from Piya Ka Ghar, Mere Dil Mein Aaj Kya Hai from Daag: A Poem of Love, Nahi Mai Nahi Dekh Sakta from Majboor, Mere diwanepan ki bhi from Mehboob Ki Mehndi, Naach Meri Bulbul from Roti, Chal Chal Mere Haathi from Haathi Mere Saathi, Gaadi Bula Rahi Hai from Dost, Ruk Jaana Nahi from Imtihaan, Ek Ritu Aaye from Gautam Govinda, My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves from Amar Akbar Anthony Bahut Khoobsurat Jawan Ek Ladki from Dostana and Om Shanti Om as well as Paisa Yeh Paisa from Karz. L-P, also composed several Kishore-Lata duets, including Achchha To Hum Chalte Hain from Aan Milo Sajna, Gore Rang Pe Na Itna from Roti, Main Solah Baras Ki from Karz, and Din Mahine Saal from Avtaar, Tu Kitne Baras Ki from Karz. L-P also got Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi to sing duets for the films Dostana, Ram Balram and Deedaar-E-Yaar. L-P composed a duet with Kishore Kumar and Alisha Chinoy, I love you (Kaate Nahin Katate Yeh Din Yeh Raat) from Mr. India in (1987). Salil Chowdhury recorded songs like Koi Hota Jisko Apna from Mere Apne and Gujar Gaye Din Din from Annadata. Ravindra Jain recorded Ghungroo Ki Tarah, and the duet Tota Maina Ki Kahani from Fakira. Khaiyyaam recorded beautiful duets with Lata Mangeshkar such as Hazar Rahein from Thodisi Bewafai, Aankhon Mein Humne Aapke Sapne Sajaye Hain, Chandani Raat Mein Ek Bar. Hridaynath Mangeshkar recorded Zindagi Aa Raha Hoon Main from Mashaal. Kalyanji-Anandji recorded several songs with Kishore Kumar including Zindagi Ka Safar and Jeevan se na haar Jeenewale , from Safar, Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas from Black Mail, Apne Jeevan Ki Uljhan from Uljhan, Mera Jeevan Kora Kagaz from Kora Kagaz, O Saathi Re from Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Khaike Paan Banaraswala from Don, Neele Neele Ambar Par from Kalakar and Pal Bhar Ke Liye from Johny Mera Naam.
Other composers including Rajesh Roshan, Sapan Chakravarty, and Bappi Lahiri also worked with Kishore Kumar. Rajesh Roshan's film Julie featured songs sung by Kishore Kumar, Bhool Gaya Saab Kuchh (duet with Lata Mangeshkar) and Dil Kya Kare Jab Kisise. Their other songs include Chhookar mere man ko from Yaarana , Tune Abhi Dekha Nahin from Do Aur Do Paanch and Kahan Tak Ye Man Ko Andhere Chhalenge from Baaton Baaton Mein. Bappi Lahiri also recorded many songs with Kishore Kumar, including Pag Ghunghroo Bandh from Namak Halal (1982), Manzilen Apni Jagah Hai from Sharaabi (1984) and Chalte Chalte Mere Ye Geet from Chalte Chalte (1976), Saason Se Nahi Kadmose Nahi from Mohabbat in (1987) and duets with (Lata Mangeshkar)) like Taa thaiya from Himmatwala in (1984), Albela Mausam from Tohfa in (1985) and another duet Pyar Ka Tohfa from the same film.
During the Indian Emergency (1975–1977), Sanjay Gandhi asked Kishore Kumar to sing for a Congress rally in Mumbai, but Kishore Kumar refused. As a result, the government put an unofficial ban on playing Kishore Kumar songs on the All India Radio or television.
Kishore Kumar produced and directed some movies in the late 1970s and early 1980s, such as Badhti Ka Naam Daadhi (1978), Zindagi (1981) and Door Wadiyon Mein Kahin (1980). But none of these films did well at the box office. His last appearance as an actor was in Door Wadiyon Mein Kahin.
With patronage from R. D. Burman and Rajesh Roshan, Kishore Kumar's son Amit Kumar also became a Bollywood singer in the 1980s. Kishore Kumar also continued singing for several actors. He also did some stage shows, apparently to earn money to pay his income tax arrears.
Kishore Kumar stopped singing for Amitabh Bachchan in the mid-1980s, after Bachchan did not do a guest appearance in a film produced by him but called a truce with him by singing for him in Toofan. He also temporarily stopped singing for Mithun Chakraborty, after Yogeeta Bali divorced him and married Chakraborty. However, just like with Bachchan earlier, the two later put aside their differences as Kumar sang for him in many films like Disco Dancer, Muddat, and Pyar Ka Mandir.
In the mid-1980s, Kishore Kumar sang for Anil Kapoor in Kapoor's debut film as a leading man, Woh Saat Din and also recorded for his first superhit Mr. India. He sang a duet with Alka Yagnik, Tumse Badhkar Duniya Mein Na Dekha for Kaamchor in (1986). He also recorded some songs for the film Saagar with R. D. Burman. By this time, he had decided to retire and was planning to go back to his birthplace, Khandwa.
However, on 13 October 1987, he died of a heart attack in Mumbai at 4:45 pm. His body was taken to Khandwa for cremation. He had recorded his last song a day before he died. The song was "Guru Guru", a duet with Asha Bhosle, for the film Waqt Ki Aawaz (1988) composed by Bappi Lahiri for Mithun Chakraborty and Sridevi.
Kishore Kumar's song "Pal Bhar Ke Liye" from the film Johny Mera Naam (1970) was used in an episode of The Simpsons titled "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore". His songs have also been featured in several films, including Such a Long Journey (1998) and Side Streets (1998). Sony TV organised the television singing contest K for Kishore to search for a singer like Kishore Kumar.
Kishore Kumar married four times. His first wife was Ruma Guha Thakurta aka Ruma Ghosh. Their marriage lasted from 1950 to 1958. Kishore's second wife was actress Madhubala, who had worked with him on many films including his home production Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958). When Kishore proposed to her, Madhubala was sick and was planning to go to London for treatment. At this time, she didn't know that she had a ventricular septal defect, and her father wanted her to wait and consult the London doctors first. Nevertheless, Madhubala married Kishore in 1960. Madhubala was a Muslim, and the two had a civil marriage. Kishore converted to Islam and took the name Karim Abdul.
His family was against the marriage, and the couple also had a Hindu marriage to please them, but Madhubala was not accepted by them. The doctors in London told Madhubala that she would not live for long. The marriage lasted for nine years, and ended with Madhubala's death on 23 February 1969. Kishore's third marriage was to Yogeeta Bali, and lasted from 1976 to 4 August 1978. Kishore was married to Leena Chandavarkar from 1980 until his death.
Kishore sired two sons, Amit Kumar (playback singer) with Ruma, and Sumit Kumar with Leena Chandavarkar.
Kishore is said to have been paranoid about not being paid. During recordings, he would sing only after his secretary confirmed that the producer had made the payment. Once, when he discovered that his dues hadn't been fully paid, he landed up for shooting with make-up on only one side of his face. When the director questioned him, he replied "Aadha paisa to aadha make-up." (Half make-up for half payment). On the sets of Bhai Bhai, Kishore Kumar refused to act because the director M V Raman owed him five thousand rupees. Ashok Kumar persuaded him to do the scene. But, when the shooting started, he walked across the floor and, each time he walked a few places, he said, "Paanch Hazzar Rupaiya" (five thousand rupees) and did a somersault. After he reached the end of the floor, he went out of the studio, jumped into his car, and ordered his driver Abdul to drive away. On another occasion, when producer R. C. Talwar did not pay his dues in spite of repeated reminders, Kishore turned up at Talwar's residence one morning and started shouting "Hey Talwar, de de mere aath hazaar" ("Hey Talwar, give me my eight thousand"). He did this every morning until Talwar paid him.
The film Anand (1971) was originally supposed to star Kishore Kumar and Mehmood in the lead. Hrishikesh Mukherjee, the director of the film, was asked to meet Kishore Kumar to discuss the project. However, when he went to Kishore Kumar's house, he was driven away by the gatekeeper due to a misunderstanding. Kishore Kumar (himself a Bengali) hadn't been paid for a stage show organized by another Bengali man, and had instructed his gatekeeper to drive away this "Bengali", if he ever visited the house. When Hrishikesh Mukherjee (also a Bengali) went to Kishore Kumar's house, the gatekeeper drove him away, mistaking him for the "Bengali" that Kishore Kumar had asked him to drive away. Consequently, Mehmood had to leave the film as well, and new actors (Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan) were signed up for the film.
In spite of his "no money, no work" principle, sometimes Kishore Kumar recorded for free even when the producers were willing to pay. Such films include those produced by Rajesh Khanna and Danny Denzongpa. On one occasion, Kishore Kumar helped actor-turned-producer Bipin Gupta, by giving him Rs. 20,000 for the film Dal Mein Kala (1964). When little-known actor Arun Kumar Mukherjee died, Kishore Kumar regularly sent money to his family in Bhagalpur. Mukherjee was one of the first persons to appreciate Kishore's singing talent.
Many journalists and writers have written about Kishore Kumar's seemingly eccentric behavior. Kishore Kumar had put a "Beware of Kishore" sign at the door of his Warden Road flat, where he stayed for some time while his bungalow was being done up. Once, producer-director H. S. Rawail, who owed him some money, visited his flat to pay the dues. Kishore Kumar took the money, and when Rawail offered to shake hands with him, he reportedly put Rawail's hand in his mouth, bit it, and asked "Didn’t you see the sign?". Rawail laughed off the incident and left quickly. Once, when a reporter made a comment about how lonely he must be, Kishore Kumar took her to his garden. He then named some of the trees in his garden, and introduced them to the reporter as his closest friends.
According to another reported incident, once Kishore Kumar was to record a song for producer-director G. P. Sippy. As Sippy approached his bungalow, he saw Kishore going out in his car. Sippy pleaded him to stop his car, but Kishore only increased the speed of his car. Sippy chased him to Madh Island, where Kishore Kumar finally stopped his car near the ruined Madh Fort. When Sippy questioned his strange behavior, Kishore Kumar refused to recognize or talk to him and threatened to call police. Sippy had to return. Next morning, Kishore Kumar reported for the recording. An angry Sippy questioned him about his behavior on the previous day. However, Kishore Kumar insisted that Sippy must have seen a dream, and claimed that he was in Khandwa on the previous day.
Once, a producer went to court to get a decree that Kishore Kumar must follow the director's orders. As a consequence, Kishore Kumar obeyed the director to the letter. He refused to alight from his car until the director ordered him to do so. Once, after a car scene in Mumbai, he drove on till Khandala because the director forgot to say "Cut". In the 1960s, a financier named Kalidas Batvabbal, patently disgusted with Kishore Kumar's alleged lack of cooperation during the shooting of Half Ticket, gave him away to the income tax authorities. Kishore had to face a raid at his house. Later, Kishore invited Batvabbal home, tricked him by asking him to enter a cupboard for a "chat" and locked him inside. He unlocked Batvabbal after two hours and told him "Don’t ever come to my house again.
Winner:Year Song Film Music director Lyricist
1969 Roop tera mastaana Aradhana Sachin Dev Burman Anand Bakshi
1975 Dil aisa kisi ne Amanush Shyamal Mitra Indeevar
1978 Khaike Pan Banaras Wala Don Kalyanji-Anandji Anjaan
1980 Hazaar raahen mudke dekheen Thodisi Bewafaii Khayyam Gulzar
1982 Pag ghunghroo baandh Namak Halaal Bappi Lahiri Anjaan
1983 Hamen aur jeene ki Agar Tum Na Hote Rahul Dev Burman Gulshan Bawra
1984 Manzilen apni jagah Sharaabi Bappi Lahiri Anjaan
1985 Saagar Kinaare Saagar Rahul Dev Burman Javed Akhtar
Nominated:Year Song Film Music Director Lyricist
1971 Zindagi Ek Safar Andaz Shankar-Jaikishan Hasrat Jaipuri
1971 Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai Kati Patang Rahul Dev Burman Anand Bakshi
1972 Chingari Koi Bhadke Amar Prem Rahul Dev Burman Anand Bakshi
1973 Mere Dil Mein Aaj Daag: A Poem of Love Laxmikant-Pyarelal Sahir Ludhianvi
1974 Gaadi Bula Rahi Hai Dost Laxmikant-Pyarelal Anand Bakshi
1974 Mera Jeevan Kora Kagaz Kora Kagaz Kalyanji Anandji M.G.Hashmat
1975 Main Pyaasa Tum Faraar Kalyanji Anandji Rajendra Krishan
1975 O Manjhi Re Khushboo Rahul Dev Burman Gulzar
1977 Aap Ke Anurodh Anurodh Laxmikant-Pyarelal Anand Bakshi
1978 O Saathi Re Muqaddar Ka Sikander Kalyanji-Anandji Anjaan
1978 Hum Bewafa Harghiz Shalimar Rahul Dev Burman Anand Bakshi
1979 Ek Rasta Hai Zindagi Kaala Patthar Rajesh Roshan Sahir Ludhianvi
1980 Om Shanthi Om Karz Laxmikant-Pyarelal Anand Bakshi
1981 Hameh Tumse Pyar Kudrat Rahul Dev Burman Majrooh Sultanpuri
1981 Chhookar Mere Mann Ko Yaraana Rajesh Roshan Anjaan
1983 Shayad Meri Shaadi Souten Usha Khanna Sawan Kumar
1984 De De Pyar De Sharaabi Bappi Lahiri Anjaan
1984 Inteha Ho Gayi Sharaabi Bappi Lahiri Anjaan
1984 Log Kehete Hai Main Sharaabi Bappi Lahiri Anjaan
Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards
1971 - Best Male Playback Singer for Aradhana
1972 - Best Male Playback Singer for Andaz
1973 - Best Male Playback Singer for Hare Rama Hare Krishna
1975 - Best Male Playback Singer for Kora Kagaz