Bollywood Legends - Kishore Kumar


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Kishore Kumar

He was born as Abhas Kumar Ganguly on 4th August 1929, in a middle class family in Khandwa. He was the youngest in the family. He had no formal training in music but was blessed with a melodious voice. Even as a boy, he was enamoured by Saigal`s style of singing. Like Saigal, he too had natural instincts and talent on his side.
Lata Mangeshkar called him the Sampoorna Kalakar (complete artist). For her he was Danny Kaye of India. For millions of listeners worldwide Kishore Kumar`s voice is sheer magic and his presence on screen, a laugh riot. The most versatile personality of all times, Kishore Kumar was one of the few artistes who could act, sing, direct, edit, compose and write scripts. There are many facets of the genius, which added up to what Kishore Kumar as a person was- eccentric, crazy but one of the biggest entertainers.
When struggling to become a singer he was often told by people, `Aapki awaaz mein woh baat nahin hai` (your voice has something amiss) and even his elder brother, the legendary actor, Ashok Kumar wanted him to be an actor instead of a singer as he thought that actors are better paid. But all that Kishore Kumar wanted to do in life was to sing.
At the age of 18, he came to Bombay where elder brother Ashok Kumar was a major star. He got his first opportunity as a singer in Bombay Talkies Ziddi, 1948 where he sang the song Marne ki Duayen Kyon Mangu for Dev Anand. Being an ardent admirer of K.L. Saigal, the song was sung in the style of the legend.
Kishore Kumar became a hero with Andolan, but gained popularity with Ladki in 1953. Overall he acted in about 80 odd films and at one time he was rated one of the most popular actors. In fact, he was so busy with his acting career that for one of his films singer Mohd Rafi had to do the playback. Acting was one thing which he hated as he did not like to be dictated by his directors. One interesting anecdote has it that Kishore Kumar was once issued a court order that he should always listen to his directors. So, once when he reported for shooting, he was reluctant to get down from the car as his director had not instructed him to do so.
He got recognition as a comedian with his hilarious films Half Ticket, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, Funtoosh and Padosan. He made Door Gagan Ke Chaon Mein in 1964, which won him an international award. His film Door Ka Rahi in 1971 was also widely appreciated. The movies directed by him stressed on serious themes and a sentimental kind of music, which he had aspired for, especially after being portrayed a comical hero all through the series of movies he had done.
Kishore was initially taken quite lightly as a singer and was given mainly lighter songs by Burmanda and other music directors. But with the soulful Dukhi Man Mere from Funtoosh, 1956, Kishore was now taken seriously as a singer. Though a very popular comedian of his time it was Kishore`s singing trait that made him a legend. Kishore`s long and fruitful association with S D Burman began with Pyar, starring Raj Kapoor. It had two of Kishore`s rare sentimental numbers- O bewafa, yeh to bata loota chaman kyon pyar ka and Mohabbat ka chotasa ek ashiyana. He sang 112 songs for Burman and would have sung more but for the rift that developed between them in 1958. They settled their differences in 1965 with Kishore singing Khwab ho tum ya koi haqeeqat from Teen Deviyaan and Gaata rahe mera dil from Guide.
Singing for S D Burman and his son R D Burman, Kishore`s career spanned two generations of listeners. But Kishore was more popular among the younger listeners, mainly due to the success of R D Burman`s music in films like Kati Patang for the song Yeh jo mohabbat hai and from Amar Prem it was Chingari koi bhadke. The runaway success of the songs of Aradhana, 1969 pushed Kishore into prominence, eclipsing all others with the popularity of Meri sapnon ki rani and Roop tera mastana and he soon came to be recognised as the voice of the then superstar Rajesh Khanna.
His greatest contribution to filmdom was his style of yodeling in songs like Mein hoon jhumroo and Haal kaisa hai janaab ka. But the true versatile singer that he was, he also sang all-time sentimental hits like Jeevan se bhari teri aankhen, Kuch to log kehenge, Mera jeevan kora kagaz, Zindagi ka safar and Ye jeevan hai. His romantic numbers still remain unparalleled with songs like Mere naina saawan bhaadon, Yeh shaam mastani, Kehna hai kehna hai, and Mere mehbbob qayamat hogi. When it came to singing fun songs, he sang Aake teekhi lagi, Khaike paan banaraswala, Ina meena deeka, Ik chatur naar and Zarurat hai.
As his fame grew so did stories of his eccentricities. He put up a board outside his house saying THIS IS A LUNATIC ASYLUM. He reportedly spoke to his trees in his backyard addressing each by a special name. His personal life was also very eventful. His first marriage, to Ruma Guha (Amit Kumar`s mother) broke up, while that with Madhubala ended with her premature death. His marriage to actress Yogita Bali lasted just about a month. He then married his fourth wife Leena Chandavarkar who was two years older than his son, Amit! He would often say of Leena, his last wife, who survived him, that he married only Leena; the rest married him.
Kishore remained at the top till the very end succumbing to a major heart attack on 13th October 1987. He was still full of life. He was just 58. His sudden death created a void that hasn`t been filled ever since.