Though an unschooled singer who had no classical training, Kishore Kumar, fondly called Kishore da, had a beautiful voice that could make any song come alive.
His quirky antics while recording those songs and charismatic onscreen presence labelled him as a gifted comedy actor.
Today, we explore snippets of the genius’ life through his career as a lyricist, composer, producer, director, screenplay writer, and scriptwriter.
1. What many don’t know is that as a child, Kishore Kumar’s voice was very shrill, and his family would invariably laugh or cover their ears if he ever tried to sing.
2. When Kishore da was studying in Class 5, he did not know the answer to a single question in his maths exam. So instead, he filled his answer sheet with jokes, little poems and doodles.
3. The popular song Paanch Rupaiya Barah Anna is based on a true event in his life — Kishore da still owes this sum of money to his college canteen!
4. During his college days, Kishore Kumar would often use his bench in the classroom as a tabla — an act that displeased his civics teacher. His retort was that he intended to earn his living through music.
5. Kishore Kumar was known for his trademark outfit: the black overcoat, white pajamas, muffler and leather sandals.
6. Not many people know that Kishore Kumar was stage shy and would run away whenever he was invited to sing in any music concert.
7. Kishore Kumar was famous for his eccentricities — one time he shaved off parts of his moustache and hair till he was paid his entire fee by the producer.
8. Once 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’!
9. The legendary singer refused to take fees from acclaimed filmmaker Satyajit Ray for singing in his 1964 film, Charulata.
10. There were three people he respected enough to hang their portraits in his house and bow to them every day: K L Saigal, Rabindranath Tagore, and Danny Kaye.
11. Amitabh Bachchan and Kishore Kumar formed a great actor-singer partnership in the 1970s.
12. Kishore da’s unique style of yodelling was inspired by Jimmie Rodgers and Tex Morton. He yodelled for ‘Zindagi ek safar‘ from the film Andaz, ‘Chala jata hoon kisi ki dhun mein‘ from the film Haathi Mere Saathi, and many more.
13. During his lifetime, Kishore Kumar was married to four women — Ruma Guha Thakurta, Madhubala, Yogeeta Bali, and Leena Chandravarkar.
14. Kishore’s denial to endorse the 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.