Kishore Kumar

One of the best playback singers of the Indian film industry, the legendary Kishore Kumar celebrates his 82nd birth anniversary on 4 August 2011. Born as Abhas Kumar Ganguly, Kishore da, as he was popularly known, also excelled as an actor, lyricist, composer, producer, director, screenwriter and scriptwriter.

Besides his mother tongue Bengali, Kishore sang in several Indian languages including Hindi, Marathi, Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, Bhojpuri, Malayalam and Oriya. He won a record eight Filmfare Awards in the Best Male Playback Singer category.

Born into the Bengali Brahmin Ganguly family in Khandwa, Central Provinces and Berar (now in Madhya Pradesh), his father Kunjalal Ganguly (Gangopadhya) was a lawyer while his mother Gouri Devi came from a wealthy Bengali family. Kishore was the youngest of four siblings, the others being Ashok Kumar, Sati Devi, and Anoop Kumar.

 Kishore Kumar

Kishore Kumar wore many hats - actor, singer, lyricist, composer, producer, director, screenwriter and scriptwriter. Image courtesy ibnlive

Kishore married four times. His first wife was Ruma Guha Thakurta aka Ruma Ghosh. Their marriage lasted from 1950 to 1958. The beautiful Madhubala, who worked with him on many films including his home production Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), was his second wife. Madhubala was a Muslim, and the two had a civil marriage in 1960. Kishore converted to Islam and took the name Karim Abdul. The marriage lasted nine years, and ended with Madhubala's death on 23 February 1969. Kishore then married Yogeeta Bali (1976-78) before tying the knot with Leena Chandavarkar in 1980 and remained married to her until his death.

Kishore is survived by two sons, Amit Kumar (playback singer) with Ruma, and Sumit Kumar with Leena Chandavarkar.

Early career

After older brother Ashok Kumar joined the Indian film industry, the young Kishore also started taking a keen interest in movies and music. He considered the inimitable KL Saigal as his guru and in his initial years as a singer tried to follow Saigal's style.

After shifting base to Bombay in 1949, Abhas Kumar changed his name to Kishore and started his cinema career as a chorus singer at Bombay Talkies, where his older brother Ashok worked.

His first film as an actor was Shikari (1946), in which Ashok played the lead role. Music director Khemchand Prakash gave Kishore his first break as a singer with the song Marne ki duayen kyon mangu, picturised on Dev Anand, from the 1948 film Ziddi.

Kishore played hero in the Bombay Talkies film Andolan (1951), directed by Phani Majumdar. Although he got acting offers with his brother's help, he was more interested in becoming a singer. However, older brother Ashok wanted him to be an actor like himself.

It was music director SD Burman who spotted Kishore's talent as a singer and helped in advancing his singing career. Burman heard Kishore imitating KL Saigal and while he was pleased with what he heard, he told Kishore to develop a style of his own.

Kishore did not have any formal training in music and keeping Burman's advice in mind, eventually developed his own style of singing, which featured the yodeling.


With several hit melodious numbers to his credit, those which readily come to mind include Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si (Chali Ka Naam Gaadi), Gaata rahe mera dil (Guide), Mere saamne wali khidki mein (Padosan), Roop tera mastana (Aradhana - for which he won his first Filmfare award), Chingari koi bhadke (Amar Prem), Yeh jeevan hai (Piya Ka Ghar), My name is Anthony Gonsalves (Amar Akbar Anthony), Pal pal dil ke paas (Blackmail), Chookar mere man ko (Yaarana), Khaike Paan Banaraswala (Don), Neele Neele Ambar Par (Kalakar) and the list goes on...

During his illustrious career, Kishore was every actor's voice from Dev Anand to Amitabh Bachchan to Rishi Kapoor and later he also sang for Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt and Jackie Shroff. He combined with melody queen Lata Mangeshkar and together the duo has given us some unforgettable songs.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Kishore produced and directed movies including Badhti Ka Naam Daadhi (1978), Zindagi (1981) and Door Wadiyon Mein Kahin (1980). His last appearance as an actor was in Door Wadiyon Mein Kahin.

Kishore passed away on 13 October 1987 aged 58.

Updated Date: Aug 04, 2011 17:03:39 IST

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