On August 4 1929, the Indian mainland witnessed the birth of a man, a visionary, a futurist. Little did the world know that the infant who was then fiddling with his mother’s hair would one day push the Indian cinema and the Indian music industry into a new direction.
Kishore Kumar, born Abhas Kumar Ganguly, started his cinema career as a chorus singer at ‘Bombay Talkies’, where his brother worked. Kishore Kumar’s first film as an actor was ‘Shikari’ (1946), in which Ashok Kumar played the lead role. Music director Khemchand Prakash gave Kishore Kumar a chance to sing “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.
Kumar, who had always been passionate about music, didn’t want to continue with acting but did the best he could, out of family pressure.
Music 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 Kumar imitating K.L. Saigal. He complimented Kumar and told him that he should develop a style of his own, instead of copying Saigal. He kept Burman’s advice in mind and eventually developed his own style of singing, which featured the yodelling that he had heard on the gramophone records of Tex Morton and Jimmie Rodgers.
Kumar successfully merged the two genres- comedy and music, by giving birth to the commercially successful number ‘Meri Pyaari Bindu’.
Kumar was also known for his mad-cap comedy movies, and for his eccentricity as he used to ‘talk’ to his trees in his home, and had even put up a sign ‘Mental Hospital’ right outside his residence in Khandwa. He was also parsimonious, so much so that he was in arrears to the Indian Income Tax authorities, yet never missed a chance to make fun of them (Aur Peechey Pad Gaya Income Taxum, Jai Govindam Jai Gopalam).
His marriages to some of the most popular and attractive Bollywood actresses (Madhubala, Yogeeta Bali, Leena Chandavarkar) not only raised eyebrows, but also added to his popularity. In order to marry Aquarian Madhubala, who real name was Mumtaz Jehan Dehlavi, he converted to Islam, and changed his name to Karim Abdul.
It wasn’t until the dusk of the fateful day (October 13, 1987), that he bid adieu to the world and the nation lost a gem.
Kishore Kumar, fondly referred to as ‘Kishore da’, was an actor, a lyricist, composer, producer, director, screenplay writer, scriptwriter and what not! He won 8 awards for Best Playback Male Singer and holds the record for most number of Filmfare Awards won in that category.
After twenty five years of his demise, he is still the most sought after singer on radio channels, his songs gets millions of hits on YouTube and music lovers keep downloading them, too.
True to the spirits of his songs, the legend lives on…
Chalte chalte mere ye geet yaad rakhna, kabh alvida na kehna…
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