Birthday: August 4, 1929
Died At Age: 58
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Abhas Kumar Ganguly
Born Country: India
Born in: Khandwas, India
Famous as: Indian playback singer
Spouse/Ex-: Leena Chandavarkar (1980-1987), Madhubala (1960-1969), Ruma Guha Thakurta (1950-1958), Yogeeta Bali (1976-1978)
father: Kunjalal Ganguly
mother: Gouri Devi
siblings: Anoop Kumar, Ashok Kumar, Sati Devi
children: Amit Kumar, Sumit Kumar
Died on: October 13, 1987
place of death: Mumbai India
Cause of Death: Heart Attack
awards: 1986; 1985; 1984; · Saagar Kinare; Manzilen Apni Jagah Hain; Agar Tum Na Hote - Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback Singer
1975; 1973; 1972 - Bengal Film Journalists' Association – Best Male Playback Award
Kishore Kumar was an Indian singer, lyricist, music director, actor, screenwriter, director, and film producer. As a playback singer, he sang many hit Bollywood songs of yesteryear superstar Rajesh Khanna. One of the most recognized and loved voices of Hindi cinema, Kishore Kumar struggled in his personal life because of his emotional instability. He was a genius troubled by the weights of his own talents. Born into a wealthy Bengali family, Kishore’s venture into filmdom happened by chance. In fact, the man who went on to become the voice of India’s most popular superstars did not even receive basic training in music! He was just a young boy when his elder brother became an actor in Bollywood. Kishore simply followed his brother to Bombay where his brother helped him find work. As fate would have it, Kishore soon became one of the most popular playback singers. He has sung in many Indian languages, such as Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Assamese, Marathi, Malayalam, and Kannada. During his time, he won many awards, including eight ‘Filmfare Awards.’ In 2012, his last unreleased song was sold for ₹1.56 million at an auction in New Delhi.
Childhood & Early Life
Kishore Kumar was born Abhas Kumar Ganguly on 4 August 1929, in Khandwa, Central Provinces, British India. He was the youngest of four siblings. His father Kunjalal Ganguly was a lawyer and his mother Gouri Devi hailed from a wealthy family.
Abhas’s eldest brother Ashok Kumar became a famous Bollywood actor when Abhas was still young. Later on, his brother Anoop Kumar too joined Ashok. Abhas became interested in cinema after watching his elder brothers succeed in the field of entertainment. As a young boy, he was an ardent fan of singer-actor K. L. Saigal.
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Abhas was interested in music from a young age, though he did not receive formal training. He followed his brother Ashok to Bombay and changed his name to Kishore as he embarked on a professional career.
He began his musical career as a chorus singer at ‘Bombay Talkies.’ To make up for his lack of formal training, he practiced singing for hours and perfected a technique called ‘yodeling’ which would soon become his trademark.
His brother Ashok wanted him to become an actor and helped him get some assignments. Kishore performed reluctantly as he had aspired to become a singer and not an actor.
In the 1950s, he started acting in movies like ‘Andolan’ (1951), ‘Naukri’ (1954), and ‘Musafir’ (1957). Initially, music directors like Salil Chowdhury were not willing to give him a chance to sing, but they changed their minds after hearing his melodious voice.
In 1958, he starred in the film ‘Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi’ which also starred his brothers in important roles. The female lead was played by the beautiful actor Madhubala.
Music director S.D. Burman once heard Kishore mimicking the great singer K.L. Saigal. Burman realized that the young man was talented in his own right. He also thought that Kishore should be developing his own unique style instead of copying others’ styles.
Kishore’s fortunes changed for the better when he was discovered by Burman. He got the opportunity to sing for many films like ‘Guide’ (1965), ‘Jewel Thief’ (1967), and ‘Prem Pujari’ (1970), of which many songs became super hits.
The 1970s and the 1980s were highly productive for the playback singer who performed many lovely songs that were liked by millions of Indians all over the world. During this period, he sang for famous actors like Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Jeetendra, Dev Anand, and Anil Kapoor among many others.
Along with singing solos, he also sang duets with popular singers like Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle. He also sang duets with Mohammed Rafi, one of the greatest voices of Hindi cinema.
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Even though Kishore Kumar was a highly talented personality, he was quite eccentric by nature. Many times he would get into personal conflicts with actors. He also had problems managing his finances.
Considered to be one of the most successful male playback singers of Indian cinema, Kishore Kumar was a class apart. He sang not only in the Hindi language, but also in several other Indian languages. He also sung for private albums in many languages.
Awards & Achievements
He was the proud recipient of eight ‘Filmfare Awards’ for ‘Best Male Playback Singer,’ the first of which he had won for the song ‘Roop Tera Mastana’ from the movie ‘Aradhana’ in 1969. He had sung the song for Rajesh Khanna who played the lead in the movie opposite Sharmila Tagore.
In 1985–86, he was honored by the Madhya Pradesh government with the prestigious ‘Lata Mangeshkar Award.’ In 1997, the Madhya Pradesh government initiated the ‘Kishore Kumar Award’ in his honor.
Personal Life & Legacy
His personal life was always tumultuous. Throughout his life, he married four times. His first wife was Bengali singer and actor Ruma Guha whom he married in 1950 and divorced in 1958. The couple had one son.
His second marriage was to actor Madhubala with whom he had worked on many films. Their marriage ended with Madhubala’s death in 1969.
He then got married to Yogeeta Bali in 1976. This marriage too was short lived as it ended in divorce in 1978.
He married for the fourth time in 1980. His wife Leena Chandavarkar was married to him until his death. The couple had one son.
He died of heart attack on 13 October 1987, on his brother Ashok’s birthday.
This eccentric playback singer was a loner—he had trees for friends.