Kishore Kumar, a name that needs no introduction in the world of Indian music and cinema. His versatile talent, soulful voice, and charismatic persona left an indelible mark on the hearts of millions. In this comprehensive Biography of Kishore Kumar, we dive deep into the life and achievements of the legendary playback singer, actor, and multi-talented artist.
Table of Contents
Early Life and Family Background
Kishore Kumar (Abhas Kumar Ganguly) was born on August 4, 1929, in the Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh. Hailing from a family with a rich musical heritage, his father Kunjalal Ganguly was a renowned lawyer, while his mother Gouri Devi came from a family of classical musicians. This early exposure to music sowed the seeds of Kishore’s passion for singing.
Kishore Kumar’s Journey into Bollywood
Kishore Kumar’s journey to stardom began when he moved to Mumbai. Initially, he struggled to find his footing in the film industry. His elder brother, Ashok Kumar, was already a prominent actor, but Kishore Kumar had to overcome many obstacles to establish himself. At that time Abhas Kumar changed his name to Kishore Kumar and started his career in Bombay Talkies as a Chorus Singer.
Kishore Kumar first appeared on-screen in the Hindi film Shikari (1946) in which Ashok Kumar played the lead role.
His breakthrough came with the film “Ziddi” (1948), Khemchand Prakash who was the music director in Hindi films gave Kishore Kumar the first chance to sing, where he sang “Marne Ki Duayen Kyun Mangu” – Kishore Kumar’s First Song. This song showcased his unique style, and audiences started recognizing his talent. Kishore Kumar’s quirky yodeling (inspired by Jimmie Rodgers and Tex Morton) and distinct voice quickly set him apart from other playback singers of his era.
Musical Career and Iconic Songs
Kishore Kumar’s musical career spanned several decades, during which he sang thousands of songs in multiple languages. Some of his most iconic songs include “Mere Sapno Ki Rani Kab Aayegi Tu,” “Roop Tera Mastana,” and “Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas.” His collaboration with music directors R.D. Burman and S.D. Burman produced timeless classics that are still popular today.
Top 50 Kishore Kumar Songs
Kishore Kumar as an Actor
Kishore Kumar’s big brother Ashok Kumar wanted him to become an actor. During 1946-1955 Kishore Kumar appeared in around 22 films and many of the films flopped as a result, his interest in acting dropped. Later after the success of a few films, he developed an interest in acting and became successful as a Lead Actor.
Apart from his unique singing, Kishore Kumar made a significant mark as an actor. He starred in numerous films, including “Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi,” “Padosan,” and “Amar Prem.” His impeccable comic timing and versatile acting skills earned him a special place in the hearts of moviegoers.
Best Films of Kishore Kumar (As An Actor)
- Ladki (1953)
- Naukari (1954)
- Baap Re Baap (1955)
- Paisa Hi Paisa (1956)
- New Delhi (1956)
- Naya Andaz (1956)
- Bhagam Bhaag (1956)
- Bhai Bhai (1956)
- Aasha (1957)
- Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958)
- Dilli Ka Thug (1958)
- Jaalsaaz (1959)
- Bombay Ka Chor (1962)
- Chacha Zindabad (1959)
- Man-Mauji (1962)
- Jhumroo (1961)
- Half Ticket (1962)
- Mr. X in Bombay (1964)
- Shreeman Funtoosh (1965)
- Ek Raaz (1963)
- Ganga Ki Lahren (1964)
- Hum Sab Ustaad Hai (1965)
- Haal E Dil Pyar Kiye Jaa (1966)
- Padosan (1968)
Personal Life and Controversies
Kishore Kumar’s personal life was as colorful as his professional one. He had four marriages, each with its share of ups and downs. Despite his eccentricities, his magnetic charm endeared him to many.
Reluctance to Sing for Jawaharlal Nehru: Kishore Kumar was known for his eccentricities and his steadfastness when it came to his principles. One such incident that gained significant attention was his refusal to sing at a cultural event attended by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
The story goes that Kishore Kumar had a policy of not singing at political events, as he did not want to be associated with any political party. When approached to perform at a function organized by the government, which had Prime Minister Nehru in attendance, Kishore Kumar stuck to his principles and declined the request. This decision led to some controversy and even led to a temporary ban on his songs on All India Radio. However, he remained resolute in his stance.
Tiff with Dev Anand: Kishore Kumar’s professional relationships in the film industry were not always smooth sailing. One of the most famous tiffs in Bollywood was between Kishore Kumar and the renowned actor-director Dev Anand.
The dispute between the two occurred during the making of the film “Jewel Thief” (1967). Kishore Kumar was initially signed to sing the songs for the film, but a disagreement arose between him and Dev Anand regarding the recording fees. As a result, Kishore Kumar withdrew from the project, and his songs were later sung by another playback singer, Mahendra Kapoor.
This incident created a buzz in the industry, and it was widely covered by the media. It’s worth noting that despite this disagreement, Kishore Kumar and Dev Anand continued to work separately in the industry, and their individual contributions to Bollywood remained significant.
These incidents added to the mystique surrounding Kishore Kumar’s personality and made him an enigmatic figure in the world of Indian cinema, known not only for his talent but also for his unwavering principles and occasional clashes with industry figures.
Legacy and Awards
Kishore Kumar’s legacy lives on through his timeless songs and unforgettable performances. He received numerous awards and accolades, including several National Film Awards for Best Male Playback Singer. His impact on the Indian music industry remains immeasurable.
- 8 Filmfare Awards for the Best Male Playback Singer
- 1970 – Roop Tera Mastana – Aradhana (1969)
- 1976 – Dil Aisa Kisi Ne Mera – Amanush (1975)
- 1979 – Khaike Paan Banaras Wala – Don (1978)
- 1981 – Hazaar Raahen Mudke Dekheen – Thodisi Bewafaii (1980)
- 1983 – Pag Ghungroo Baandh – Namak Halaal (1982)
- 1984 – Agar Tum Na Hote – Agar Tum Na Hote (1983)
- 1985 – Manzilein Apni Jagah Hain – Sharaabi (1984)
- 1986 – Saagar Kinaare – Saagar (1985)
- 4 Bengal Film Journalists’ Association – Best Male Playback Award
- 1971 – Aradhana
- 1972 – Andaz
- 1973 – Hare Rama Hare Krishna
- 1975 – Kora Kagaz
- Lata Mangeshkar Award by Madhya Pradesh Government
- Madhya Pradesh Govt. initiated an award ‘Kishore Kumar Award’ in 1997 for contributions to Hindi cinema.
So, let us continue to celebrate Kishore Kumar, the man who sang his heart out, the actor who made us laugh and cry, and the legend whose voice will echo through generations to come. His biography is not just a chapter in the history of Indian entertainment; it is a symphony that will forever enchant our souls.