Biography

Kishore Kumar (4 August 1929 – 13 October 1987) was a popular Indian film playback singer, actor, lyricist, composer, producer, director, screenplay writer and scriptwriter. He sang in many Indian languages including Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, Bhojpuri, Malayalam, Oriya, and Urdu. He won 8 Filmfare Awards for Best Male Playback Singer and holds the record for winning the most Filmfare Awards in that category. Along with Mukesh and Mohammed Rafi, he was one of the three leading male Bollywood playback singers from the 1950s to the mid-1980s.

Abhas Kumar Ganguly was born in Khandwa, now in Madhya Pradesh, to Kunjilal Ganguly, a Brahmin lawyer by profession, and Gouri Devi, both of whom came from wealthy landowning families. Kishore was the youngest in the Ganguly family, preceded by Ashok, Sati, & Anoop. While Kishore was still a child, his brother Ashok became a Bollywood actor. Later, Anoop also ventured into cinema with Ashok’s help. Post Ashok Kumar’s stardom, the Ganguly family shifted base to Mumbai. This was also the time when Abhas Kumar Ganguly changed his name to Kishore Kumar. His first venture into the big cinema career was as a chorus singer in the film “Bombay Talkies”. His first film as an actor was in the film called “Shikari” which was released in the year 1946, wherein Ashok Kumar was the lead hero. In 1948, Kishore Kumar got a chance to sing the song “Marne Ki Duayen Kyon Mangu” for the film “Ziddi”. After this, he got many other assignments, but he was not very serious about a film career. Although his films flopped initially, he achieved success as a comic hero with movies like “New Delhi”, “Half Ticket” and “Padosan”. All the praise and honor for his acting skills was still not the platform for his successful throne. He achieved his varied and unrivalled fame only after he was recognized as an established singer. Spending time with his brothers, Kishore became interested in films and music. He became a fan of singer-actor K. L. Saigal—whom he considered his vocal guru—and tried to emulate his singing style.The popular music director Sachin Dev Burman, who was impressed by his singing skills, advised him not to copy Saigal but develop and condense his own style. Kishore kept this advice in mind and eventually developed his own style of singing, prominently featuring the yodelling that he had heard on some records bought by his brother Anoop. In the Bollywood music circles, yodelling became Kishore’s trademark.

With time, music directors started recognizing the potential of Kishore Kumar and he became one of the leading singers in the Indian film industry. The 1960s was a lean patch in Kumar’s career graph. Most of his films bombed at the box office. However, in 1969 the tables turned once again, as R. D. Burman took over the recording initiatives after S. D. Burman fell ill for the film “Aradhana”. R. D. Burman deployed Kishore Kumar to sing the songs “Mere Sapno Ki Rani” and “Roop Tera Mastana”, both of which gained instant recognition and success at the box-office. Kishore Kumar also won his first Filmfare award for the song “Roop Tera Mastana”. During the 1970s and 1980s, he sang for 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.

With R. D. Burman, Kishore delivered great hits “O Maanjhi 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. Apart from the Burmans, Kishore Kumar worked with other music directors such as Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Rajesh Roshan, Sapan Chakravarty, and Bappi Lahiri.

His low-profile marriages to some of the most popular and attractive Bollywood actresses (Madhubala, Yogeeta Bali, Leena Chandavarkar) raised eyebrows, but added to his witty, eccentric persona although close friends and colleagues remember him as being reticent and sentimental.

During the Indian Emergency in 1975-77, Kishore refused to sing for Indira Gandhi’s ‘Emergency Propaganda’. In retaliation, she banned his songs on all national media. When Amitabh Bachchan refused to do a guest appearance in a film produced by him, Kishore stopped singing for the actor, which affected the latter’s future film endeavours immensely. By the late 1980s, Kishore had grown tired of the type of songs he was singing and decided to retire from the industry. Later in the 1970s and early 1980s, Kishore Kumar produced and directed movies such as “Badhti Ka Naam Daadhi” (1978), “Zindagi” (1981) and “Door Wadiyon Mein Kahin” (1980). His last appearance as an actor was in “Door Wadiyon Mein Kahin”. 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 “Mr. India”. He sang a duet with Alka Yagnik, “Tumse Badhkar Duniya Mein Na Dekha” for “Kaamchor”. He also recorded some songs for the film “Saagar” with R. D. Burman.

On October 13th 1987, co-incidentally also the birthday of his elder brother Ashok Kumar, Kishore suffered a heart attack and breathed his last. His untimely and unexpected death shocked the entire nation. He left behind a rich vocal and visual legacy and millions of fans who still prefer his rich-coffee baritones over present-day playback singers.

Edited by Ayan-Ray on 30 Apr 2014, 09:15

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