The Voice of the Nation Kishore Kumar was born on August 4th 1929. Kishore Kumar was born in a Bengali Brahmin Ganguly family in Khandwa, Central Provinces (now in Madhya Pradesh) as Abhas Kumar Ganguly. His father, Kunjalal Ganguly (Gangopadhyay) was a lawyer and his mother, Gouri Devi came from a wealthy Bengali family and was a home-maker.
Kunjalal Gangopadhyaya was invited by the Kamavisadar Gokhale family of Khandwa to be their personal lawyer. Kishore was the youngest of four siblings, the older three being Ashok (the eldest), Sati Devi, and Anoop.
Kishore Kumar got married 4 times in his entire lifetime. The very first time he got married was when he in his 30s and he was married to Ruma Guha Thakurta and their marriage lasted for only 8 years.
Kishore Da’s 2nd wife was the most beautiful actress Bollywood had ever seen was Madhubala (Mumtaz Jahaan Begum Dehlavi) who had worked with him in many films including his home production Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958) and Jhumroo (1961).
When Kumar proposed to her, Madhubala was ill and was planning to go to London for treatment.
She had a ventricular septal defect (hole in the heart), and he was still married to Ruma. After his divorce, the couple had a civil wedding in 1960 and Kumar converted to Islam and reportedly changed his name to Karim Abdul.
His parents refused to attend the ceremony. The couple also had a Hindu ceremony to please Kumar’s parents, but Madhubala was never truly accepted as his wife. Within a month of their wedding, she moved back to her bungalow in Bandra because of tension in the Kumar household.
They remained married, but under great strain for the remainder of Madhubala’s life. Their marriage ended with Madhubala’s death on 23 February 1969.
Kishore Kumar’s 3rd wife was Yogeeta Bali and lasted from 1976 to 4 August 1978. Kishore was married to Leena Chandavarkar from 1980 until his death. He had two sons, Amit Kumar with Ruma, and Sumit Kumar with Leena Chandavarkar.
Kishore Kumar’s elder brother was a star already settled in the Bollywood cinema world he had already been working in the film industry.
Later in the years Abhas Kumar changed his name to Kishore Kumar to launch himself in the industry as a chorus singer.
Kumar’s first film appearance was in Shikari (1946), in which his brother, Ashok played the lead role. Music director Khemchand Prakash gave Kumar a chance to sing “Marne Ki Duayen Kyon Mangu” for the film Ziddi (1948).
After this, Kishore Kumar was offered many other assignments, but he was not very serious about a film career. In 1949, he settled in Bombay. Kumar played the lead in the Bombay Talkies film Andolan (1951), directed by Phani Majumdar.
Although he got some acting assignments with the help of his brother, he was more interested in becoming a singer. But Ashok wanted Kumar to be an actor like him.
Between 1946 and 1955, Kumar appeared in 22 films of which 16 were flops and since he was disinterested in taking up acting as a career, he would find ways to be in the bad books of the director or producer, so that they throw him from their films.
It was only after the success of films such as Ladki, Naukari, Miss Malaysia, Char Paise and Baap Re Baap that Kumar developed an interest in acting seriously, which resulted in him having successful films as the lead actor between 1955 and 1966.
At the time of his acting career he was deeply influenced and inspired by the K.L Saigai and he tried to intimate his style of singing in some of his early films he had a respect from Rabindranath Tagore.
Kumar employed yodeling in many of his songs including; Tum bin jaaon kahan, Zindagi ek safar hai suhana, and Chala jata hoon. The style eventually became an essential feature of his singing and was inspired by Jimmie Rodgers and Tex Morton.
Kishore Kumar acted in Bimal Roy’s Naukari (1954) and Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s directorial debut Musafir (1957). Salil Chowdhury, the music director for Naukari, was initially dismissive of Kumar as a singer when he found that Kumar had no formal training in music.
However, after hearing his voice, Chowdhury gave him the song Chhota Sa Ghar Hoga, which was supposed to be sung by Hemant Kumar. Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), his home production, had the three Ganguly brothers and Madhubala in main roles.
Kumar played a car mechanic who has a romance with a city girl (Madhubala) with a subplot involving the brothers. In the movie Half Ticket, for one of the songs – “Aake Seedhi Lagi Dil Pe” – the music director Salil Chowdhary had a duet in mind and wanted Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar to sing the song.
However, since Lata Mangeshkar was not in town and Salil Chowdhury had to record that song before she could return, Kumar solved the problem by singing both the male and female parts of the song himself.
The duet is actually for Pran and Kishore Kumar on the screen dressed as a woman. It just turned out to be fine as he did admirably well singing both in male and female voices.
As a Director
Kishore Kumar had also produced many movies in his and also directed some of the movies in the late 1970s and early 1980s Pyar Zindagi Hai, Badhti Ka Naam Dadhi (1978), Sabaash Daddy, Zindagi (1981), Door Wadiyon Mein Kahin (1980) and Chalti Ka Naam Zindagi (1982) which was his last appearance as an actor. Kishore Kumar’s son Amit Kumar became a Bollywood singer in the 1974 with the song “Apne Bas Ki Baat Nahi“, composed by Kumar for the film Badthi Ka Naam Daadi.
Amit Kumar became popular with success of the song “Bade Achche Lagte Hai“.
Kishore continued singing for several actors even in 1980s. Kishore Kumar performed stage shows right from 1969 to earn money to pay his income tax arrears.
Kumar stopped singing for Amitabh Bachchan in the year 1981, after Bachchan refused to appear as a guest in the film Mamta Ki Chhaon Mein, which Kishore Kumar produced.
Kishore declined to give voice for Amitabh in Naseeb, Coolie, Mard and Desh Premee. Kishore said he would give his voice to Randhir Kapoor in the film Pukar. Since Kishore shared good rapport with R. D. Burman, he agreed to sing in Mahaan, Shakti and Bemisal.
Later, Kishore called a truce by singing for Amitabh in a solo song in Shahenshah and later in Toofan. Kishore sang the song “Mera Geet Adhura Hai” for his production Mamta Ki Chaon Mein and pictured the song on Rajesh Khanna.
Music Directors working with Kishore Da
S.D (Sachin Dev) Burman
S.D Burman being an excellent music director in his time started using Kishore Kumar’s voice for the films. Some of the very famous songs include: