There are singers and then there is Kishore Kumar. Kishore Da was truly a master of all streams. His beautiful voice could make any song come alive. Though he is best known as one of Indian cinema’s greatest playback singers, he was actually multi-faceted. Here are some fascinating stories from the melodious life of the legendary actor-singer.
1. Born on August 4, 1929 in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh as Abhas Kumar Ganguly.
2. He was an unschooled singer who had no classical training.
3. Kishore Kumar was a singer, composer, lyricist, producer, screenplay writer, director and scriptwriter.
4. As a child, Kishore Kumar’s voice was very piercing. His family would invariably laugh at his singing. Later, his voice transformed into melody that continued till generations.
5. As a student of 5th standard Kishore did not know the answer to a single question in his maths exam. So instead, he filled his answer sheet with jokes, little poems, doodles and smiley faces for his teacher.
6. The popular song Paanch Rupaiya Barah Anna was related to a true event in his life. Kishore went to the Christian College in Indore after his matriculation. Kishore Da still owes five rupees and 12 paise to his college canteen.
7. Young Kishore Kumar was obsessed to his long black overcoat. He was known for his signature outfit, the black overcoat, white pajamas, muffler and leather sandals.
8. He would never take off the coat, as he was very insecure about his scrawny physique.
9. Kishore Kumar was stage shy and that he would run away whenever he was invited to sing in any music concert. It was actor Sunil Dutt who helped him get over this phobia before an event in 1970.
10. Kishore Kumar once put up a signboard saying ‘Beware of Kishore’ on the door of his Warden Road flat.
11. He was very attached to his house in Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh. At the doorstep of his home in Madhya Pradesh, he once put a board saying ‘Mental Hospital’.
12. Reportedly he kept shaving off parts of his moustache and hair till he was paid his entire fee by the producer.
13. While shooting a scene in which he was driving a car, Kishore Da kept driving till he reached Panvel because the director had forgotten to say ‘cut’.
14. Kishore Kumar refused to take fees from acclaimed filmmaker Satyajit Ray for singing in his 1964 film, Charulata.
15. There were 3 people K.L.Saigal, Rabindranath Tagore and Hollywood actor-singer Danny Kaye, whom he respected enough to hang their portraits in his house and bow to them every day.
16. Interestingly, the singer considered the trees in his garden his closest friends and even had names for them.
17. Diversely for the immortal number, ‘Khaike Paan Banaraswala’, Kishoreda actually chewed on a Benarasi paan and spat it on the floor to get the desired feel in his singing.
18. He also sang many songs for Rajesh Khanna and became such a master at capturing the actor’s mannerisms and way of speaking, that the latter once remarked,”We were two people with one voice.”
19. Kishore Da’s unique style of yodelling was inspired by Jimmie Rodgers and Tex Morton. Yodelling is singing in a manner that the voice fluctuates rapidly between a normal and an exaggerated tone. He yodelled for a number of songs like ‘Zindagi Ek Safar‘ from the film Andaz, ‘Chala Jata Hoon Kisi Ki Dhun Mein‘ from the film Haathi Mere Saathi and many more.
20. Despite the fact that he had no formal training in music Kishore Kumar was nominated 19 times for Filmfare and won 8 of them.
21. During his lifetime, Kishore Kumar was married to four women – Ruma Guha Thakurta, Madhubala, Yogeeta Bali and Leena Chandravarkar. He used to call them ‘bandariyas‘ as they all happened to stay at Bandra or had lived there before.
22. Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s, Abhimaan was based on the life of Kishore Kumar and his first wife Ruma.
23. Despite of knowing Madhubala’s illness Kishore Kumar married to her. She had a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)commonly called “hole in the heart”.
24. Kishore Kumar and Mehmood were the first picks for the Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan starrer Anand.
25. His denial to endorse then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s 20-point programme led to his ban on Vividh Bharti and All India Radio during the Emergency period of 1975-1977.
26. His last wish was that his body be taken to Khandwa and cremated outside his old bungalow, a wish that was fulfilled.
27. Lataji reveals that, under the laughing facade, Kishoreda was a very sad man. A month before he died, he told Lataji things about his life that left her stunned. What he said will remain with her only.
28. Apparently, he had placed a sign that read, “Beware of Kishore” at the door of his Warden Road flat.
29. According to a report in Hindustan Times, Kishore Kumar would never gave interviews. He would usually run away from the scene leaving a regret note behind.
30. It was also reported in the article that his living room had skulls and bones with red lights and sounds backing them up to shoo away unwanted visitors.
31. The legendary singer only sang when he was confirmed by his secretary that he was fully paid.
32. Kishore da once appeared on the sets of a film with make-up on one side of his face. When the director questioned him, he replied saying, “Aadha paisa to aadha make-up.”