On 4th August 1929, popular Bollywood actor and playback singer Kishore Kumar was born.
Kishore Kumar was born as Abhas Kumar Ganguly in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh. His father was a lawyer and his mother belonged to a wealthy Bengali family. Kishore Kumar’s brothers Ashok Kumar and Anoop Kumar were also Bollywood actors. In the company of his brothers, Kishore Kumar began taking an interest in music and films and became a huge fan of popular singer K.L. Saigal, whose style of singing he would try and copy.
Following Ashok Kumar becoming a Bollywood actor, Kishore Kumar began visiting him in Mumbai (then Bombay) and changed his name from Abhas to Kishore. Kishore Kumar soon began his career as a chorus singer in Bombay Talkies where Ashok Kumar worked. Kishore Kumar’s debut as an actor was in the film Shikari (1946) in which Ashok Kumar played the lead. In 1948 Kishore Kumar sang a song titled “Marne ki dua kyon maangu” for the film Ziddi. Following this, Kishore Kumar got many offers to act in films, but he was not serious about a film career. Eventually in 1949, Kishore Kumar settled down in Mumbai.
In the 1951 Bombay Talkies film Andolan, Kishore Kumar played the lead. He kept getting offers for acting assignments through his brother, but Kishore Kumar was keener on becoming a singer rather than an actor. But his brother Ashok Kumar wanted him to become an actor like himself.
Despite his lack of interest in acting, Kishore Kumar starred in films like Naukri (1954), New Delhi (1957), Aasha (1957), Chalti ka Naam Gaadi (1958), Half Ticket (1962) and Padosan (1968), among others. One of Kumar’s most popular films Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi was his home productions and starred all three brothers, Askok, Kishore and Anoop, along with Madhubala (Kishore Kumar’s real life love interest).
As a singer, Kishore Kumar was discovered by music composer S.D. Burman who heard Kishore Kumar imitating K.L Saigal. Burman told Kishore Kumar that he had a great voice and should focus on singing in his original voice. Kumar followed his advice and focused on developing his own signature style, including the yodeling for which he is remembered till today.
Later in 1961, Kishore Kumar produced, directed and acted in the film Jhumroo. He wrote the lyrics and composed all the songs for the film. In 1964 he produced and directed a film called Door Gangan ki Chhaon Mein, which starred him and his real life son Amit Kumar. It was playback singing for the 1969 film Aradhana that shot Kishore Kumar to fame, winning him his first Filmfare award for the song “Roop Tera Mastana”.
Throughout the 1970’s and 80’s Kishore Kumar lent his voice to many leading men, such as Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Jeetandra, Sanjeev Kumar, Dev Anand, Rishi Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Anil Kapoor, Sunny Deol, Govinda and Jackie Shroff, among others. The 1970’s also saw Kishore Kumar team up with music composer R.D Burman for whom he sang many popular duets with Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar such as, Panna ki Tamanna Hai, Kya Yehi Pyaar Hai, Sagar Kinare, Jaane Ja Dhoontha Phir Raha and Nahi Nahi, among others.
Kishore Kumar remains one of India’s most famous singers and was awarded the Lata Mangeshkar Award by the Madhya Pradesh Government, that soon initiated a Kishore Kumar Award to honour him. Despite his enormous success he maintained a respectful attitude and when he was compared to senior singer Mohammed Rafi he visited him and told him that he had great respect for him and could never attempt to sing the songs he had sung. Kishore Kumar won the Filmfare Award for the Best Male Playback Singer eight times throughout his career.
In his personal life, Kishore Kumar was paranoid about not being paid and had a “No money, no work” principle. He would only record a song after his secretary conformed that the produced had made the payment. In one case after being paid only half the amount for a film he was acting in, Kishore Kumar landed up on the set with make up only on one side of his face. On being asked by the director why he had done this, he replied “Half make-up for half payment”.
Ashok Kumar married four times, first to a Bengali singer Ruma Guha Thakurta (also known as Ruma Ghosh), then to actress Madhubala (a marriage for which Kishore Kumar converted to Islam, since Madhubala was a Muslim) after the death of Madhubala he married actress Yogeeta Bali which lased for two years after which he married actress Leena Chandravarkar, a marriage which lasted till his death from a heart attack on 13th October 1987. He was 58 at the time of his death. Kishore Kumar has two sons, Amit Kumar (with Ruma Ghosh) and Sumit Kumar (with Leena Chandravarkar). Amit Kumar is also a famous singer.
Also on This Day:
1845: Great Indian lawyer and social worker Pherozshah Merwanji Mehta was born.
1935: Government of India Act got the Royal assent.
1956: India’s first nuclear research reactor Apsara was commissioned.