Kishore Kumar was born as Aabhas Kumar Ganguli, in to a Bengali
family in the Khandwa town of Central Provinces and Berar,
British India (now in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh).
His father Kunjalal Ganguli was a pleader (advocate), and
his mother Gouri Devi came from a wealthy family. Abhas Kumar
was the youngest of four siblings, the other three being Ashok
Kumar (the eldest), Sati Devi, and Anoop Kumar.
Abhas Ganguli was still a child, Ashok Kumar became a popular
Bollywood actor. Later, Anoop Kumar also ventured into cinema
with the help of Ashok Kumar. Spending time with his brothers,
Abhas Kumar too started to take a keen interest in the movies
and music. He became a fan of singer-actor Kundan Lal Saigal
(whom he considered his guru), and started mimicking him.
Early days in Hindi film industry
After Ashok Kumar became a Bollywood star, the Ganguli 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 Ashok Kumar was a star. 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.
Kumar played hero in 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 successful singer. He was not interested
in acting, but his elder brother Ashok Kumar wanted him to
be an actor like himself.
an actor, Kishore Kumar worked with many notable directors.
He played an unemployed young man seeking a job, 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.
Rise to fame
After some initial flops as an actor, Kishore Kumar achieved
success as a comic hero with movies like New Delhi (1956),
Aasha (1957), Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), Jhumroo (1961),
Half Ticket (1962), and Padosan (1968). Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi,
his home production, starred the three Ganguli brothers, and
Madhubala (whom Kishore married later). The film is about
romance between a city girl (Madhubala) and a car mechanic
(Kishore Kumar), with a subplot involving eccentric brothers.
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 the singer K L Saigal
in the bathroom. 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.
Initially, he used to copy K. L. Saigal. But, he kept Burman's
advice in mind, and eventually developed his own style of
singing, which prominently featured the yodeling that he had
heard on some records bought by his brother Anoop. In the
Bollywood music circles, yodeling became Kishore's trademark.
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 intial hits included
Maana janaab ne pukara nahin from Paying Guest, Hum hain raahi
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 also
became very popular. Some of these 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 (1965).
Ramchandra was another music director who recognized Kishore
Kumar's talent as a singer. Some of the C. Ramchandra-Kishore
Kumar hits include Eena Meena Deeka from Aasha (1957). Kishore
Kumar also gave a few hit songs with other music directors;
for example, 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).
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 serious 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). The movie achieved critical
success, which perhaps motivated him to make another two films
called Door Ka Rahi (1971) and Door Waadiyon Mein Kahin (1980).
the 1960s, as an actor, Kishore Kumar build 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, he had some hit songs to his credit,
including Zaroorat Hai Zaroorat Hai from Manmauji (1961),
Gaata Rahe Mera Dil from Guide (1964), and Yeh dil no hota
bechara from Jewel Thief (1967).
the late 1960s, S. D. Burman's son, Rahul Dev Burman also
started patronizing Kishore Kumar. Their first notable success
was the soundtrack of the film Padosan (1969), in which Kishore
Kumar sang popular songs Mere Saamne waali khidki mein and
Kehna hai. Padosan was a comedy film staring Kishore Kumar
as a dramatist-musician, Mehmood as a Carnatic music and dance
teacher, and Sunil Dutt as a simpleton called Bhola. Kishore
Kumar's character in the film was inspired by the personality
of his uncle, Dhananjay Banerjee (a classical singer). The
highlight of the film was a musical, comical duel between
Kishore Kumar-Sunil Dutt and Mehmood, "Ek Chaturnar Karke
Rise as the top playback singer
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 Bhosale, 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, which became smash hits.
Kishore Kumar won his first Filmfare award for the song Roop
Kumar sang for all leading actors in 1970s, including Rajesh
Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar, Dev Anand,
and Rishi Kapoor.
D. Burman and Kishore continued to churn out several hit 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, and Phoolon Ke Dere Hain from Zameer (1974).
In 1975, Kishore Kumar composed his last song for S. D. Burman.
S. D. Burman went into a coma for the second time, soonafter
Kishore recorded the song Badi Sooni Sooni Si Hai Zindagi
for the film Mili.
D. Burman considered Kishore Kumar his favorite singer, and
recorded several hit songs with him in the 1970s. In the superhit
Bollywood film, Sholay (1975), he asked Kishore Kumar to sing
for both Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra. Some of the popular
Kishore Kumar-R. D. Burman songs include O Maajhee Re from
Khushboo, Yeh Shaam Mastaani and Yeh jo mohabbat hai from
Kati Patang (1970), Kuchh to log kahenge from Amar Prem (1971),
Raat Kali Ek Khwab Mein Aayee from Buddha Mil Gaya (1971),
Musafir hoon yaaron from Parichay (1972), Diye jalte hain
from Namak Haraam (1973), Meree bheegee bheegee si from Anamika
(1973), Zindagee Ke Safar Mein from Aap Ki Kasam (1974), Agar
Tum Na Hote, Humein Tum Se Pyaar Kitna, Mere Naina Saawan
Bahado, and Chingari Koi Bhadke.
D. Burman also recorded several hit duets with Kishore Kumar,
and Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar. Some of these duets include
Panna Ki Tamana from Heera Panna (1973), Neend Chura Ke Raaton
Mein from the film Shareef Badmash, Kya Yehi Pyaar Hai from
Sanjay Dutt's debut film Rocky (1981).
from the Burmans, Kishore Kumar worked with other major music
directors as well. The composer duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal (L-P)
also composed many hit songs sung by Kishore Kumar. Some of
there hit songs include Mere Dil Mein Aaj Kya Hai from Daag,
Mere diwanepan ki bhi from Mehboob Ki Mehndi, Mere Naseeb
Mein Aye Dost from Do Raaste, Naach Meri Bulbul from Roti,
Chal Chal Mere Haathi from Haathi Mere Saathi, Gaari Bula
Rahi Hai, Ruk Jaana Nahi (Imtihaan), Mere Mehboob Qayamat
Hogi (Mr X In Bombay), and My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves from
Amar Akbar Anthony. L-P, whose favorite singer was Lata Mangeshkar,
also composed several hit Kishore-Lata duets, including Achchha
To Hum Chalte Hain, Kal Ki Haseen Mulaqat Ke Liye, Gore Rang
Pe Na Itna from Roti, and Tu Kitne Baras Ki. L-P also got
Kishore Kumar and Rafi to sing duets for the films Dostana
and Ram Balram.
recorded several hit songs with Kishore Kumar including O
Saathi Re from Muqaddar Ka Sikander, Khaike Paan Banaraswala
from Don, Mera Jeevan Kora Kagaz from Kora Kagaz, Neele Neele
Ambar Par from Kalakar and Pal Bhar Ke Liye from Johny Mera
new composers such as Rajesh Roshan, Sapan Chakravarty (who
had earlier worked as R. D. Burman's assistant), and Bappi
Lahiri also worked with Kishore Kumar. Rajesh Roshan's first
hit film Julie featured hit songs sung by Kishore Kumar, Bhool
Gaya Saab Kuch (duet with Lata Mangeshkar) and Dil Kya Kare
Jab Kisise. Their other hits include Chhookar mere man ko
from Yaarana and Tune abhi dekha nahin from Do Aur Do Paanch.
Bappi Lahiri also recorded many popular songs with Kishore
Kumar, including Pag Ghunghroo from Namak Halal (1982), Manzilen
Apni Jagah Hai from Sharaabi (1984) and Chalte chalte(1976).
the Indian Emergency, Sanjay Gandhi asked Kishore Kumar to
sing for a Congress rally in Mumbai, but Kishore Kumar refused.
As a result, the Government put a ban on playing Kishore Kumar
songs on the All India Radio or television. But Kishore Kumar
refused to apologize. Finally, the ban was lifted after some
prominent producers and directors lobbied against it.
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 (1982). But none
of these films did well at the box-office. His last appearance
as an actor was in Door Wadiyon Mein Kahin.
patronage from R. D. Burman and Rajesh Roshan Kishore Kumar's
son Amit Kumar also became a leading Bollywood singer in the
1980s. Kishore Kumar also continuted singing for several actors.
He also did some stage shows, apparently to earn money to
pay his income tax arrears.
Kumar stopped singing for Amitabh Bachchan in the mid-1980s,
after Amitabh didn't do a guest appearance in a film produced
by him. He also stopped singing for the actor Mithun Chakraborty,
after Yogeeta Bali divorced him and married Mithun.
mid-1980s, Kishore Kumar sang for Anil Kapoor in his Kapoor's
debut film, Woh Saat Din and also recorded for his first superhit
Mr. India. He also recorded some popular 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 October 13 1987, he died of a heart attack in
Mumbai. His body was taken to Khandwa for cremation. He recorded
his last song a day before he died. The song was Guru O Guru,
a duet with Asha Bhosle, for the film Waqt ki Aawaz (1988)
composed by Bappi Lahiri.
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
Kishore Kumar married four times. His first wife was Ruma
Guha Thakurta aka Ruma Ghosh. Their marriage lasted from 1950
to 1958. Kishore Kumar's second wife was the famous actress
Madhubala, who had worked with him many films including his
home production Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958). They married
in 1961, although Kishore Kumar knew that she had major health
problems and would die in a few years. Madhubala was a Muslim,
and the two had a civil marriage, for which Kishore Kumar
reportedly converted to Islam and changed his name to "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. Madhubala went to London for an
operation, but the doctors didn't operate on her, as her chances
of survival were remote. The marriage lasted for 9 years,
and ended with Madhubala's death on February 23, 1969. Kishore
Kumar's third marriage was to Yogeeta Bali, and lasted from
1976 to August 4, 1978. Kishore Kumar was married to Leena
Chandavarkar from 1980 until his death. He had two sons Amit
Kumar (an accomplished playback singer) from Ruma, and Sumit
Kumar from Leena Chandavarkar.
Kumar is said to have been paranoid about not being paid.
During recordings, he would begin singing 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. His
brother 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 summersault.
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.
another occasion, when the producer R. C. Talwar did not pay
his dues in spite of repeated reminders, Kishore Kumar 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 for a few days, until Talwar paid him.
film Anand (1971) was originally supposed to star Kishore
Kumar and Mehmood in the lead roles. One of the producers
of the film, N.C. Sippy, had earlier served as Mehmood's production
manager. 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) had done a stage show organized by another
Bengali man, and he was involved in a fight with this man
over money matters. He had instructed his gatekeeper to drive
away this "Bengali", if he ever visited the house.
When Hrishikesh Mukherjee (another 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. The incident hurt Hrishikesh Mukherjee so much,
that he decided not to work with Kishore Kumar. Consequently,
Mehmood had to leave the film as well, and new actors (Rajesh
Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan) were signed up for the film.
spite of his "no money, no work" principle, sometimes
Kishore Kumar recorded for free even when the producers were
willing to pay. He recorded for free, for some films 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 the
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
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, the 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
to another reported incident, once Kishore Kumar was to record
a song for the 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.
Sipppy 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.
Kumar was also noted for defying producers and directors.
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 called 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."
1969 Roop tera mastaana - Aradhana
1975 Dil aisa kisi ne - Amanush
1978 Khaike paan Banaraswaala - Don
1980 Hazaar raahen mudke dekheen - Thodisi Bewafaai
1982 Pag ghunghroo baandh - Namak Halaal
1983 Hamen aur jeene ki - Agar Tum Na Hote
1984 Manzilen apni jagah - Sharaabi
1985 Saagar Kinaare - Saagar
Zindagi Ek Safar - Andaz
1971 Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai - Kati Patang
1972 Chingari Koi Badke - Amar Prem
1973 Mere Dil Mein Aaj - Daag
1974 Gaadi Bula Rahi Hai - Dost
1974 Mere Jeevan Kora Kagaz - Kora Kagaz
1975 Main Pyaasa Tum - Faraar
1975 O Manjhi Re - Khushboo
1977 Aap Ke Anurodh - Anurodh
1978 O Saathi Re - Muqaddar Ka Sikander
1978 Hum Bewafa Harghiz - Shalimar
1979 Ek Rasta Hai Zindagi - Kala Pathar
1980 Om Shanthi Om - Karz
1981 Hameh Tumse Pyar - Kudrat
1981 Choo Kar Mere Mann - Yaarana
1983 Shayad Meri Shaadi - Souten
1984 De De Pyar De - Sharaabi
1984 Inteh Ho Gayi - Sharaabi
1984 Log Kehete Hai Main - Sharaabi
Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards Winner
- Best Male Playback Singer for Aradhana
1972 - Best Male Playback Singer for Andaz
1973 - Best Male Playback Singer for Haré Raama Haré
1975 - Best Male Playback Singer for Kora Kagaz
Kishore Kumar acted in 81 films. Some of his notable films
as an actor include:
Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein (1964)
Ganga Ki Lahren (1964)
Mr. X in Bombay (1964)
Half Ticket (1962)
Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958)
Dilli Ka Thug (1958)
New Delhi (1956)
Baap Re Baap (1955)
Miss Mala (1954)
Kishore Kumar sang for around 574 films. Some of his notable
films as a singer are:
Agar Tum Na Hote (1983)
Satte Pe Satta (1982)
Namak Halaal (1982)
Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978)
Ponga Pandit (1975)
Kora Kagaz (1974)
Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973)
Raampur Ka Lakshman (1972)
Bombay to Goa (1972)
Mere Jeevan Saathi (1972)
Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971)
Amar Prem (1971)
Buddha Mil Gaya (1971)
Prem Pujari (1970)
Kati Patang (1970)
Pyar Ka Mausam (1969)
Jewel Thief (1967)
Teen Devian (1965)
Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein (1964)
Mr. X in Bombay (1964)
Half Ticket (1962)
Dilli Ka Thug (1958)
Nau Do Gyarah (1957)
Paying Guest (1957)
House No 44 (1955)
Taxi Driver (1954)
Kishore Kumar also produced 14 films, and wrote the story
for these films. Six of these films were not completed. He
is also credited with writing the screenplays of five films,
two of which remained incomplete. He also directed 12 films,
four of which were abandoned.
Kumar also composed music for all of his home productions:
Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein (1964)
Hum Do Daku (1967)
Door Ka Rahi (1971)
Zameen Aasman (1972)
Badti Ka Naam Dadhi (1974)
Shabash Daddy (1979)
Chalti Ka Naam Zindagi (1981)
Door Wadiyon Mein (1982)
Mamta Ki Chhaon Mein (1990)
Some of his notable songs as a composer include Koi Ham Dam
Na Raha, Aa Chal Ke Tujhe, and Beqarar Dil Tu Gaye Ja. He
also composed several Bengali songs, including Nayano Sarasi
Keno, Priyatama Ki Likhi Tomay (sung by Lata Mangeshkar),
and Sei Raate Raat Chilo Poornima.
and meant for information only.