Remembering legend Kishore Kumar
Wednesday marks the 81st birthday of the man who also worked as a lyricist, composer, producer, director, screenwriter and scriptwriter in over 10 languages before dying at the age of 58.
Eighty-one years ago, one Abhas Kumar Ganguly was born… who grew up to be an eccentric genius much ahead of his time…who brought a whole new flavour to contemporary Indian entertainment…that’s Kishore Kumar.
Kishore Kumar started his cinema career as a chorus singer at Bombay Talkies, a movie studio where his elder brother Ashok Kumar was a star.
He went on to act in close to 90 movies and sing for close to 600 throughout his career.
Mostly remembered for his versatile singing, Kishore entered into acting in 1946, with the movie Shikari.
It is said that Salil Chowdhury one of the most noted composers of the era, and the music director for the film Naukri, was initially dismissive of him as a singer, upon finding that Kishore did not have any formal training in music.
But once Chowdhury heard him, he immediately asked him to sing the song “Chhota sa ghar hoga” which was assigned for Hemant Kumar, an industry veteran.
Once Congress party’s Sanjay Gandhi apparently asked Kishore Kumar to sing for a political rally in Mumbai during the Emergency; but he refused.
As a result, his songs were reportedly banned from the All India Radio and Doordarshan. The ban was withdrawn only after many prominent producers and directors lobbied against it.
Within the industry, he was well-known for his paranoia of not getting his payment. He would only start recording for a song after having received word from his secretary that the producer had made the payment.
It is said that once while acting for a film, the producer owed him five thousand rupees and Kishore only appeared on sets after being persuaded by his brother. However, when he started to do the scene, each time he walked he murmured “Paanch Hazzar Rupaiya,” (five thousand rupees) and did a somersault. And then left without finishing the scene.
But this in no way came in way of his generosity and graciousness. Kishore Kumar was often known to sing for many directors for free and even assist them financially sometimes.
Kishore was known for his eccentricity and also notorious for defying the directors orders. It is said, once a producer got a court order that Kishore must follow every word of the director.
Throughout the shoot, he adhered to every single order; but once during a scene in car, when the director forgot to say ‘Cut’, he kept driving, and reportedly drove off to Khandala.