Had he been alive, singer, actor, lyricist, composer, producer, director, and screenwriter Kishore Kumar would be celebrating his 87th birthday on Thursday (Aug 4).
The multi-talented man gave his golden voice to Bollywood superstars like Rajesh Khanna, Dev Anand, Amitabh Bachchan and many others, contributing hugely to their on-screen popularity.
His acting genius was lauded in films like Chaklti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), Padosan (1968), Half Ticket (1962) and Mr. X in Bombay (1964).
He even composed music for his home productions like Jhumroo (1961), Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein (1964), Hum Do Daku (1967), Door Ka Raahi (1971) and Zameen Aasman (1972).
On his birth anniversary, here are 10 interesting facts about Kishore Kumar:
1. In his entire career, Kishore Kumar has acted in 86 films and, despite no formal training in music, did playback in 1,188 films.
2. He wrote and produced 14 films though six of them were not completed. He penned the screenplay of five films though two of them remained unfinished. Out of the 12 films he directed, four were discarded.
3. Did you know what prompted Kishore to sing the popular song – ‘Paanch Rupaiya Barah Aana’ from Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi ?
It was the same amount (Rs. 5.75) that he owed at the canteen of Christian College in Indore, where he studied.
4. There was always a signboard that read ‘Beware of Kishore’ at the gate of his apartment at Warden Road in South Mumbai.
Once when producer-director HS Rawail visited him to clear his payment that was due for sometime, Kishore bit his hand instead of giving him a handshake and chuckled: “Didn’t you see the sign?”
5. New Zealand and Australian country and western music pioneer Tex Morton and American country singer Jimmie Rodgers were his inspiration for yodeling.
He made yodeling popular in songs like ‘Zindagi Ek Safar’ from Andaz, and ‘Chala Jata Hoon Kisi Ki Dhun Mein’ fromHaathi Mere Saathi.
6. Till his last breath, he remained an ardent fan of world bard Rabindranath Tagore, Indian singer-actor KL Saigal and Hollywood singer-actor Danny Kaye.
There were huge portraits of the three icons at his bungalow Gauri Kunj. Every morning he used to bow his head in front of them.
7. He had a funny way to shoo away unwanted visitors. His living room was “decorated” with artificial human skulls and bones fitted with red lights and quirky sounds. And we can figure out the rest!
8. Besides Hindi, Kishore Da sang in Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, Assamese, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya and Bhojpuri.
9. He married four times. His first wife was veteran filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s niece Ruma Guha Thakurta, who herself was an actress and singer.
Next he converted to Islam and married Hindi film’s original diva Madhubala. After Madhubala’s untimely death, he married actress Yogita Bali (now married to actor Mithun Chakraborty).
His fourth wife was yesteryear actress Leena Chandavarkar. He has two sons – Amit Kumar (from Ruma Guha Thakurta) and Sumir Kumar (from Leena Chandavarkar).
10. In an interview, Kishore Kumar said his only friends are the trees in his garden. He said he loved talking to his trees. He had even named some of his trees, who, he claimed, were his “close friends”.
(Sources: DNA, TOI, The Hindustan Times, India.com)
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.