On 4th August 1929, the most popular and versatile singer of the golden era of the Bollywood music industry took birth. Fondly remembered as Kishore Da, the enduring appeal of his songs and the magical voice is still a mystery. Listen to any old Hindi songs playlist, and you are sure to hear many of his melodies. Switch to any FM radio station, his songs are talked about and loved by all even today. It is indeed a wonder, how Kishore Kumar songs, are still the listeners’ favorite.
A record holder for winning the most Filmfare Awards (8 times) in Best Male Playback Singer category, his rise to the top was an extraordinary feat. He had no formal training in music and yet he ended up singing in many languages including Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam and more. He was a multi-talented singing legend, who was also an actor, music director, producer, film director, and screenwriter.
His real name was Abhas Kumar Ganguly. He was the youngest in the family and had two elder brothers Ashok Kumar and Anoop Kumar. Both the brothers were actors but since his early days, he always wanted to become a singer. Though he was an untrained singer, he loved K. L. Saigal as his style of singing deeply inspired him. Also, he had great respect for the poet and musician Rabindranath Tagore. Like many others, Kishore da’s love for music took him to Bombay. But instead of a singing career, he ventured into acting on the insistence of his brothers. After ups and downs for many years in singing and acting, he finally made his mark with the help of S.D. Burman, the great music composer of that era.
It was S. D. Burman who spotted Kishore Kumar’s singing talent on one of his visits to Ashok Kumar’s home. He encouraged the young Kishore to develop his signature style, and he achieved it indeed. Among Kishore Da’s diverse talents, yodeling was one of the highlights. He introduced this special musical art to the Hindi music industry, and in return, it gave him a unique identity. Some of the top songs of Kishore Kumar songs include – ‘Zindagi Ek Safar’, ‘Nakhrewali’, ‘Mein Hun Jhumroo’, ‘Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechara’, ‘Hal Kaisa Hai Janab Ka’.
In the year 1950’s and early 60’s, the combination of S. D. Burman and Kishore Kumar gave many hit songs. The old Hindi songs are filled with their super hits. It was S. D. Burman who trained him and brought his talent to the fore, turning him into one of the greatest singers India ever had.
Perhaps it was the heavenly gift of energy, fun, liveliness and sheer joy in his voice that was fit for every emotion and occasion that turned him to the most loved singer of all time. Be it melody, romantic, sad, lively, or any other genre, and he would capture the mood and sing it brilliantly. He could change his voice as per the situation of the song and the actors as well. He sang for the biggest stars of Bollywood of the era, namely Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna, and Amitabh Bachchan. He also worked with all the great music directors of Bollywood music industry. His funny antics while recordings also made him famous. The pair of Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar gave scintillating songs in that period as well.
In the 1960’s, he starred as lead actor in many flop films and had a lean phase. There was trouble in his personal life as well. Things fell back in place soon with the movie ‘Aradhana’ starring Rajesh Khanna in 1969.
He made a comeback when R. D. Burman came into the music scene with refreshing musical hits for the movie and made Kishore Kumar sing again. The rest was history. He won the first Filmfare award for Best Male Playback Singer for “Roop Tera Mastana” and eventually became the leading playback singer. Till his death in 1987, he retained the top position as the best singer in the Bollywood music industry.
Saregama Carvaan has a great collection of Kishore Kumar songs. Listen to the old Hindi songs and remember the legendary and versatile singer on his birthday.