, Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, India
Kishore Kumar (4 August 1929 – 13 October 1987), was a popular Indian film playback singer, actor, lyricist, composer, producer, director, screenplay writer and scriptwriter. He sang in many Indian languages including Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, Bhojpuri, Malayalam, Oriya, and Urdu. He won 8 Filmfare Awards for Best Male Playback Singer and holds the record for winning the most Filmfare Awards in that category. He was awarded the "Lata Mangeshkar Award" by the Madhya Pradesh government and from that year onwards, the Madhya Pradesh Government initiated a new award called the "Kishore Kumar Award" for contributions to Hindi cinema.
Kishore Kumar was born into the Bengali Ganguly family in Khandwa, Central Provinces and Berar—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. Kishore was the youngest of four siblings, the other three were Ashok (the eldest), Sati Devi, and Anoop. While Kishore was still a child, his brother Ashok became a Bollywood actor. Later, Anoop also ventured into cinema with Ashok's help. Spending time with his brothers, Kishore became interested in films and music. He became a fan of singer-actor K. L. Saigal whom he considered his guru and tried to emulate his singing style.
After Ashok became a star of Hindi films, the Ganguly family visited Mumbai regularly. Abhas Kumar changed his name to Kishore and started his cinema career as a chorus singer at Bombay Talkies, where his brother worked. 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, Kumar was offered many other assignments, but he was not very serious about a film career. In 1949, he settled in Mumbai. Kumar played the hero 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. Ashok wanted Kumar to be an actor like him.
Kumar next starred 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 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. Kumar starred in films New Delhi (1957), Aasha (1957), Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), Half Ticket (1962), and Padosan (1968). Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), his home production, starred the three Ganguly brothers and Madhubala. Kumar played a car mechanic who has a romance with a city girl (Madhubala) and a car mechanic and there is a subplot involving the brothers.
Music director S. D. Burman is credited with spotting Kumar's talent for singing. During the making of Mashaal (1950), Burman visited Ashok's house, where he heard Kumar imitating K. L. Saigal. He complimented him and told him that he should develop a style of his own, instead of copying Saigal. Kumar eventually developed his own style of singing, which featured yodeling, which he had heard on the records of Tex Morton and Jimmie Rodgers. Asha Bhosle and Kumar performed duets composed by Burman including "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) and "Arre Yaar Meri Tum Bhi Ho Gajab" from Teen Deviyan (1965).
Music director C. Ramchandra also recognized Kumar's talent as a singer. They collaborated on songs including "Eena Meena Deeka" from Aasha (1957). Kishore Kumar's work includes "Nakhrewaali" from New Delhi (1956) by Shankar Jaikishan, "C.A.T. Cat Maane Billi" and "Hum To Mohabbat Karega" from Dilli Ka Thug (1958) by Ravi, and "Chhedo Na Meri Zulfein" from Ganga Ki Lahren (1964) by Chitragupta. Kumar produced, directed, acted in composed the music for Jhumroo (1961), and wrote the lyrics for the film's title song, "Main Hoon Jhumroo". Later, he produced and directed Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein (1964). He wrote 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), "Gaata Rahe Mera Dil" from Guide (1965), and "Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechara" from Jewel Thief (1967). In the late 1960s, Rahul Dev Burman worked with Kumar on the soundtrack of the film Padosan (1968), in which Kumar sang "Mere Saamne Wali Khidki Mein" and "Kehna Hai." Padosan was a comedy in which Kumar as a dramatist-musician, Mehmood as a Carnatic music and dance teacher, and Sunil Dutt as a simpleton named Bhola. Kumar's character was inspired by his uncle, Dhananjay Bannerjee, a classical singer. The highlight of the film was a musical, comical duel between Kishore Kumar-Sunil Dutt and Mehmood: "Ek Chatur Nar Karke Singaar." In 1969, Shakti Samanta produced and directed Aradhana. He sang two songs in the film; "Meri Sapnon Ki Rani" and "Roop Tera Mastana". Shakti Samanta suggested that Kumar sing the other songs. When the film was released, Kumar's two songs established him as a leading Bollywood playback singer. Kishore Kumar won his first Filmfare award for "Roop Tera Mastana".
Kishore Kumar married four times. His first wife was Bengali singer and actress Ruma Guha Thakurta aka Ruma Ghosh. Their marriage lasted from 1950 to 1958. His second wife was actress Madhubala, who had worked with him on many films including his home production Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958) and Jhumroo (1961). When Kumar proposed to her, Madhubala was sick and was planning to go to London for treatment. She had a ventricular septal defect (hole in the heart), and he was married to Ruma. After his divorce, the couple had a civil wedding in 1960 because Kumar was Bengali Hindu (Brahmin) and Madhubala was Muslim. His parents refused to attend. 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 her 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. Kumar's third marriage was to 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.
Kumar is said to have been paranoid about not being paid. During recordings, he would sing only after his secretary confirmed that the producer had made the payment. On one occasion, when he discovered that his dues had not been fully paid, he appeared on set with makeup 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 INR 5,000. Ashok Kumar persuaded him to do the scene but when the shooting started, Kumar walked across the floor, walked a few places and said, Paanch Hazzar Rupaiya (five thousand rupees) and did a somersault. After he reached the end of the floor, he left the studio. On another occasion, when producer R.C. Talwar did not pay his dues in spite of repeated reminders, Kumar arrived at Talwar's residence and shouting "Hey Talwar, de de mere aath hazaar" ("Hey Talwar, give me my eight thousand") every morning until Talwar paid him.
The film Anand (1971) was originally supposed to star Kumar and Mehmood Ali in the lead. Hrishikesh Mukherjee, the director of the film, was asked to meet Kumar to discuss the project. However, when he went to Kumar's house he was driven away by the gatekeeper due to a misunderstanding. Kumar himself a Bengali had not been paid for a stage show organized by another Bengali man and had instructed his gatekeeper to drive away this "Bengali", if he ever visited the house. Consequently, Mehmood had to leave the film as well, and new actors (Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan) were signed up for the film.
In spite of his "no money, no work" principle, sometimes Kumar recorded for free even when the producers were willing to pay. Such films include those produced by Rajesh Khanna and Danny Denzongpa. On one occasion, Kumar helped actor-turned-producer Bipin Gupta by giving him INR 20,000 for the film Dal Mein Kala (1964). When actor Arun Kumar Mukherjee, one of the first persons to appreciate Kishore's singing talent died, Kumar regularly sent money to Mukherjee's family in Bhagalpur.
Many journalists and writers have written about Kishore Kumar's seemingly eccentric behavior. He placed a sign that said "Beware of Kishore" at the door of his Warden Road flat. Once, producer-director H. S. Rawail, who owed him some money, visited his flat to pay the dues. Kumar took the money and when Rawail offered to shake hands with him, Kumar 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. According to another reported incident, once Kumar was due to record a song for producer-director G. P. Sippy. As Sippy approached his bungalow, he saw Kumar going out in his car. Sippy asked Kumar to stop his car but Kumar increased his speed. Sippy chased him to Madh Island where Kumar finally stopped his car near the ruined Madh Fort. When Sippy questioned his strange behavior, Kumar refused to recognize or talk to him and threatened to call the police. The next morning, Kumar reported for the recording session. An angry Sippy questioned him about his behaviour the previous day but Kumar said that Sippy must have dreamt the incident and said that he was in Khandwa on the previous day.
Once, a producer went to court to get a decree that Kumar must follow the director's orders. As a consequence, he obeyed the director to the letter. He refused to alight from his car until the director ordered him to do so. After filming a car scene in Mumbai, Kumar drove until he reached Khandala because the director forgot to say "Cut". In the 1960s, a financier named Kalidas Batvabbal, who was disgusted with Kumar's alleged lack of cooperation during the shooting of Half Ticket, reported to the income tax authorities, who raided his house. Later, Kumar invited Batvabbal to his home, asked 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".
Kishore Kumar was a loner; in an interview with Pritish Nandy (1985) he said that he had no friends—he preferred talking to his trees instead. Once, when a reporter made a comment about how lonely he must be, Kishore Kumar took her to his garden, named some of the trees there and introduced them to the reporter as his closest friends