The most Versatile Kishore Kumar (4th August, 1929 – 13th October, 1987) was an Indian film playback singer, actor, music composer, lyricist, producer, director, and story writer. Kishore Kumar is considered one of the most successful playback singer of the Hindi Film Industry. Apart from Hindi, he sang in many Indian languages including Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Assamese, Kannada, Bhojpuri, Malayalam, Oriya. He has also sung in private albums in especially Bengali which are noted as all time classics. . He won 8 Filmfare Awards for Best Playback Singer and holds the record for winning the most Filmfare Awards in that category. He was awared the Lata Mangeshkar Award by the Madhya Pradesh Government for the year 1985-1986 and in 1997, the Madhya Pradesh Government initiated an award called Kishore Kumar Samman for outstanding contributions to Hindi Cinema in the four categories (Actor, Lyricist, Story Writer, Director).
Kishore Kumar was born in a bengali film in Khandwa, Central Provinces (now in Madya Pradesh) as Abhas Kumar Ganguly. His father Kunjlal Ganguly was a lawyer nd his mother Gauri Devi was a house and came from a wealthy Bengali family. Kishore was the youngest of four siblings, the older three being Ashok Kumar (the eldest), Sati Devi and Anoop Kumar. While Kishore was still a child, his brother Ashok Kumar became a bollywood actor. Young Kishore was great fan of legendary singer-actor K. L. Saigal – whom he considered his Guru and tried to emulate his singing style. Kishore Kumar passed Inter – I Year from Christian College and compartment (Economic) in II year which he did not complete.
After Ashok Kumar became a star of hindi films, the Ganguly family visited Mumbai regularly. Kishore Kumar started his cinema career as a chorus singer at Bombay Talkies, where his brother worked.
Kishore Kumar’s first film appearance was in “Shikari” (1946), in which his elder brother Ashok Kumar played the lead role. Music Director Khemchand Prakash gave Kishore Kumar a chance to sing “Marne Kee Duyein Kyon Maangoon…” for the film “Ziddi” (1948). After this, Kishore was offered many other assignments, but he was not very serious about acting career in films rather he was interested to establish himself as playback singer. Singer Kishore Kumar established himself in 1950s not only as singer but also as an actor, initially he sang for Dev Anand and himself especially, later in early 1970s he started to sing for other actors also.
Music Director S. D. Burman is credited with spotting Kishore Kumar’s talent for singing. During the making of “Mashaal” (1950), Burman visited Ashok Kumar’s house, where he heart Kishore Kumar imitating K. L. Saigal. He complimented him and told him that he should develop a style of his own, instead of copying Saigal. Kishoe Kumar eventually developed his own style of singing which featured yodelling, which he had heard on the records of Tex Morton and Jimmie Rodgers. S. D. Burman recorded in Kishore’s voice for Dev Anand in “Munimjee” (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 songs were “Maanaa Janaab Ne Pukaaraa Nahin…” from “Paying Guest”, “Hum Hain Raahee Pyaar Ke…” from “Nau Do Gyarah” (1957), “Ae Meree Topee Palat Ke Aa…” from “Funtoosh” and “Ek Ladki Bheegee Bhaagee See… and “Haal Kaisaa Hai Janaab Ka…” from “Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi” (1958) and “Are Yaar Meree Tum Bhee Ho Gazab…” from “Teen Devian” (1965).
Music Director C. Ramchandra also recognised Kishore Kumar’s talent as a singer. They collaborated on songs including “Eenaa Meenaa Deekaa…” from Asha (1957). Kishore Kumar includes “Nakhre Waalee Nakhre Waalee…” from “New Delhi” (1965) by Shankar-Jaikishan, “C.A.T. Cat Maane Billeee…: and “Ham To Mohabbat Karegaa…” from “Dilli Ka Thug” (1958) by Ravi and “Chhedo Naa Meree Zulfein…” from “Ganga Ki Lahren” (1964) by Chitragupta.
Kishore Kumar produced, directed and acted in and composed the music for “Jhumroo” (1961), and wrote the lyrics for the film, title song “Main Hoon Jhum Jhum Jhum Jhumrooo…”. Later after seen Satyajit Ray’s milestone film “Pather Panchali” he decided to produce and direct a film titled “Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein” (1964). He also write the script and composed music for the film, which is about the relationship between a father (Kishore Kumar) and his deaf and mute son (played by his real-life son (Amit Kumar). In the 1960s, as an actor, Kishore Kumar built up notoriety for coming late for the shootings or bunking them altogether. His films flopped frequently and he landed in income tax trouble. As a singer, his work in this period includes “Zaroorat Hai Zaroorat Hai….” from “Manmauji” (1961), “Gaataa Rahe Meraa Dil…” from “Guide” (1965), and “Ye Dil Naa Hota Bechaaraa…” from “Jewel Thief” (1967). In the late 1960s, Rahul Dev Burman worked with Kishore Kumar on the sountrack of the film “Padosan” (1968) in which Kishore Kumar sang “Mere Saamne Waalee Khidkee Mein…” and “Kehnaa Hai Kehnaa Hai…”. “Padosan” was a comedy featuring 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 was inspired by his uncle, Dhannjay Bannerjee, a classical singer. Shakti Samanta produced and directed Aradhana. He sang three songs in the film “Mere Sapnon Kee Raani..” “Koraa Kaagaz Tha Ye Man Meraa…” and “Roop Teraa Mastaanaa…” When the film was released, Kishore Kumar was established him as a leading Bollywood playback singer. Kishore Kumar won his first Filmfare Award for “Roop Teraa Mastaanaa…” The success of “Aradhana” also made Rajesh Khanna, a superstar. After that the chemistry of Kishore Kumar & Rajesh Khanna (voice of Kishore & acting of Rajesh Khanna) gave lots of musical and melodious songs in Hindi Films. These combination gave many silver jubilee hits at that time, the youngsters especially girls were crazy for romantic Rajesh Khanna and passionate about Kishore Kumar’s singing. He was leading playback voice of three Superstars Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna & Amitabh Bachchan. Except them, in the 1970s and 1980s, he sang for Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Shashi Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor, Sanjeev Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty, Sunil Dutt, Vinod Khanna, Rajeev Kapoor, Vinod Mehra, Dilip Kumar, Rakesh Roshan, Pran, Jagdeep, Asrani, Prikshit Sahni, Anil Dhawan, Naveen Nishchal, Aditya Pancholi, Sachin, Naseeruddin Shah, Raj Babbar, Sanjay Dutt, Sunny Deol, Anil Kapoor, Rajni Kant, Jackie Shroff, Govinda, Kumar Gaurav, Javed Jaffrey. Most of the songs of superstar Amitabh Bachchan also sang by Playback Singer Kishore Kumar which liked by cine lovers till now.
S. D. Burman and Kishore Kumar continued producing classing including “Phoolon Ke Rang Se…” Shokhiyon Mein Gholaa Jaaye…” from “Prem Pujari” (1970), Aaj Madhosh Huaa Jaaye Re…” “Khilte Hain Gul Yahaan…”, “O Meree Sharmeelee….” From “Sharmilee” (1971), “Meet Naa Milaa Re Man Ka…” and “Tere Mere Milan Kee Ye Rainaa…” from “Abhiman” (1973), and “Jeevan Kee Bagiyaa Mehkegee…”, “Hey Main Kasam Lee…” from “Tere Mere Sapne” (1973). In 1975, S. D. Burman composed his last song for Kishore Kumar “Badee Soonee-Soonee Hai…” from the film “Mili”.
R. D. Burman recorded several songs with Kishore Kumar in the 1970s, including Ye Shaam Mastaanee…”, “Pyaar Diwaanaa Hotaa Hai….”, Ye Jo Mohabbat Hai…” from “Kati Patang” (1970), “Chingaaree Koi Badhke…”, “Kuchh To Log Kahenge…” “Ye Kyaa Huaa Kaise Huaa…” from “Amar Prem” (1971), “O Maanjhee Re…” from “Khushboo”, “Jab Bhee Koi Kanganaa Bole…” from “Shaukeen”. Kishore Kumar was not formally trained in classical music, that’s why R. D. Burman often gave semi-classical songs to him such as “Hamein Tumse Pyaar Kitnaa…” from “Kudrat” and “Mere Nainaa Saawan Bhaadon…” from “Mehbooba”. R. D. Burman recorded several duets pairing Kishore and Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar including “Jaane-Jaan Dhoondhtaa Phir Rahaa…” from “Jawani Diwani” “Kisee Shaayar Kee Ghazal…” “Dream Girl”, “Neend Churaake Raaton Mein…” from the film “Shareef Badmash” and “Panna Kee Tamanna Hai…” from “Heera Panna” (1973), “Rimjhim Gire Saawan…” from “Manzil”, “Kyaa Yahee Pyaar Hai…” from Rocky (1981).
Apart from the Burmans, Kishore Kuamr worked with famous music directors too. The composer duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal composed many songs sung by him including “Mere Mehboob Qayaamat Hogee…” from “Mr. X. In Bombay” (1964), “Mere Naseeb Mein Ae Dost…” from “Do Raaste”, “Ye Jeewan Hai Is Jeewan Kee…” from “Piya Ka Ghar”, Mere Dil Mein Aaj Kyaa Hai…” from Daag, “Naheen Main Nahee Dekh Saktaa…” from “Majboor”, “Mere Diwaanepan Kee Bhee..” from “Mehboob Ki Mehandi”, “Naach Meree Bulbul…” from “Roti”, “Chal Chal Mere Haathi…”from “Haathi Mere Saathi”, “Ek Haseena Thee….”, “Om Shaanti Om…”, “Too Kitne Baras Kee…” from Karz. Laxmikant-Pyarelal also worked with Kishore and Mohd. Rafi on duets for the films “Dostana”, “Ram Balram” and “Deedar-E-Yaar”. Laxmi-Pyare composed “Kaate Naheen Katate Ye Din Ye Raat…” for “Mr. India” (1987), a duet with Kishore Kumar & Alisha Chinoy.
Salil Chowdhury recorded songs like “Koyee Hotaa Jisko Apnaa…” from “Mere Sapne”, “Guzar Jaaye Din Din Din…” from “Annadata”. Ravindra Jain recorded “Ghungroo Kee Tarah Bajtaa Hee Rahaa Main…” & “Le Jaayenge Le Jaayenge…” from “Chor Machaye Shor”, “Totaa Mainaa Kee Kahaanee…” from Fakira.
Khayyam recorded many of Kishore Kumar duets with Lata Mangeshkar, including “Hazaar Raahen Jo Mudke…” from “Thodi Si Bewafaai” and “Aankhon Mein Hamne Aapkee Sapne Sajaaye Hain…” “Chaandnee Raat Mein Ek Baar…” Hridyanath Mangeshkar recorded “Zindagee Aa Rahaa Hoon Main…” from “Mashaal”.
Kalyanji-Anandji recorded several songs with Kishore Kumar including “Zindagee Ka Safar…” & “Jeevan Se Bhari Teree Aankhen…” from “Safar (1970), “O Saathee Re…” from “Muqaddar Ka Sikandar” & “Pal Bhar Ke Liye…” from “Johny Mera Naam”.
Kishroe also worked with other composers including Rajesh Roshan, Sapan Chakraborty & Bappi Lahiri. Kishore Kumar sang “Bhool Gayaa Sab Kuchh…” (with Lata Mangeshkar) and “Dil Kyaa Kare Jab Kisee Ko…” for Rajesh Roshan’s film “Julie”. Their other songs include “Yaadon Mein Wo…” from Swami (1977), “Chhookar Mere Man Ko…” “Yaarana” (1981) and “Kahiye, Suniye….” (with Asha Bhosle) from “Baaton Baaton Mein”. Bappi Lahiri also recorded many songs with Kishore Kumar, such as “Pag Ghungroo Baandh…” from “Namak Halal” (1982), “Manzilen Apnee Jagah Hai…” from “Sharabi” (1984), “Muskuraata Huaa Gul Khilaataa Huaa…” “Lahu Ke Do Rang”, “Nainon Mein Sapnaa…” “Tohfa”. Kishore Kumar also sung Bengali songs under music direction of Bappi Lahiri such as “Chirodini Tumee Je Amaar…” from “Amar Sangi” (1987 and Ae Amaar Gurudakshinaa…” from “Gurudakshina” (1987). He sang only one song under the music direction of Naushad in 1975 for the film “Sunhehra Sansaar” for the song “Hello Kyaa Haal Hai…” During the emergency (1975-1977), Sanjay Gandhi asked Kishore Kumar to sing for an Indian National Congress rally in Mumbai, but he refused. As a result, Information and Broadcasting Minister Vidya Charan Shukla (1975-1977) put an unofficial ban on playing Kishore Kumar songs on state broadcasters All India Radio and Doordarshan from 4th May, 1976 till the end of Emergency.
Versatile Kishore Kumar also produced and directed somg movies in the late 1970s and early 1980s such as “Badhti Ka Naam Daadhi” (1974), “Shabash Daddy” (1978), “Chalti Ka Naam Zindagi” (1981) and “Door Waadiyong Mein Kahin” (1980) – his last appearance as an actor. He also performed hundreds of stage shows in India and abroad.
The Great Singer Kishore Kumar had recorded his last song, “Guru Guru Aa Jaao…” (with Asha Bhosle) for the film “Waqt Ki Awaz” (1987) composed by Bappi Lahiri for Mithun Chakraborty and Sridevi on 12th October, 1987. At the age of 58 on the occasion of his elder brother Ashok Kumar’s 76th Birth Day, he was died on 13th October, 1987 after a severe heart attack in Mumbai at his residence “Gauri-Kunj” around 5:00 p.m. His body was taken to Khandwa (M.P.) for cremation according to his last desire as he was very much attached with his native place.