Yaadon Ki Baarat with Kishore Da
Born on 4th August 1929
Caught off guard singing Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi Si? That’s pretty normal. Nobody can blame you. If there’s one jam that has got boomers, millennials, and gen-z groove altogether, it’s Kishore Da’s jam. That is the level of popularity and trendy he has managed to get in his life. Words only seem less because his pleasant yodeling and enthusiastic voice manage to compensate for it. Echoing from one generation to another (as it should), this voice has single-handedly won over the hearts of many and will forever do so.
Abhas Kumar Ganguly, aka Kishore Kumar, was a god-gifted playback singer who never learned music professionally but ended up inspiring many to pursue music as a profession. Born on August 4th, 1929, in the Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh, Kumar had been lucky enough to have his family already associated with Bollywood. While his brother— Ashok Kumar— was an actor who insisted on Kishore to act as well, Dada had been much secretly attached to singing.
He started his cinematic career as a chorus singer at Bombay Talkies. By 1946, he had made his first film appearance in the movie Shikari.
But his interest never catered fully to the field of acting. Making his way through the rat race, struggling from one place to another in search of roles and assignments, he acted in 22 movies out of which 16 ended up being flops. These were his times of suffering and the times when he would largely worship the famous singer K.L Saigal. While he did get a few projects related to singing, his singing was never considered serious.
The 1960s were no less. With one marriage ending up in divorce and the other with the demise of his wife (Madhubala), the films were now failing desperately and his only way out was his love for singing. The later 50s and 60s were an accelerating point in his career as a singer. Soon he got noticed by the known Anand brothers. By 1965, Kumar had started his way up the ladder of success since S.D Burman started recording his voice for Dev Anand's Guide.
With that in effect, Kishore da was now back with a bang, finer than ever. Soon Bollywood witnessed big musical hits in Guide, Paying Guest, Prem Pujari, Jewel Thief. However one of his biggest breakthroughs happened in the movie Aradhana.
"Mere Sapno ki Rani", "Kora Kagaj Tha Ye Man Mera" and "Roop Tera Mastana", were all jam-packed in the movie Aradhana which was teamed up with the excellent acting of Rajesh Khanna.
Kumar became a singing star overnight. Recognized by many music producers and directors, he was now asked to sing for many films. His voice wasn't something that came out of training or restless practices, it was the pure result of singing from his heart. Kishore da loved singing and it showed. He had combined his yodeling with his youthful voice to make his own eclectic style.
One more of Kumar's unforgettable features was the previously made Padosan. R.D Burman had collaborated with him to produce the songs Mere Saamne Waali Khidki Mein and Kehna Hai. It was a comedy that portrayed Kishore Kumar as a dramatist-musician, Mehmood as a Carnatic dance teacher, and Sunil Dutt as the simple boy Bhola. An unmissable by-product of the same gave us the comical music faceoff: Ek Chatoor Nar Karke Singaar.
The 1970s and 80s saw Kumar deliver hits that featured top-tier actors like Rajesh Khanna, Shammi Kapoor, Amitabh Bacchan, Jeetendra, Vinod Khanna, Sanjeev Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Dev Anand, Shashi Kapoor, Pran, Naseeruddin Shah, and many more. He was fully on-demand.
Among all these actors, it was Rajesh Khanna with whom he worked the most. There's a total of 245 songs that this actor-musician pair has given to Bollywood and not one of them has seemed to disappoint anyone. Apart from his collaboration with the Burmans, Anands, and the talented Rajesh Khanna, he was famous for his duets with both Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar. They both were equally fond of Kishore da's voice and loved teaming up with him. Then there was the talented duo of Laxmikant-Pyarelal who gave us some of the most melodious hits, one of which was Mere Mehboob Qayamat Hogi.
With countless hits and upbeat songs, Kishore Kumar had made his days of struggle result into fine rewards for himself. He swept many awards like the Filmfare awards for best male playback singer and four Bengal Film Journalist's Awards for the best male singer.
Giving us the best of melodies to vibe with until today, Kishore Da remains one of the most famous timeless artists. While Rajesh Khanna's charm faded away, the songs he cast in are still murmured by many. He sits on the throne of producing 3000 evergreen songs that are still full of life. There is no nostalgia when you reminisce about Kishore Da, but only an endless presence. The graph never flattens, it only rises up. Happy Birthday to the joyous Kishore Kumar: a hit since the 1960s.