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Kishore Kumar The Actor: A Legend’s Journey Down the Years Part 2

August 5, 2019 | By

The 1950s were a bumper decade for Kishore Kumar the actor as well as the singer. He ventured into production in 1958 with the yet-to-be-surpassed comedy-thriller, Chalti ka Naam Gadi. Peeyush Sharma continues to follow Kishore Kumar, the actor, through the late 1950s, taking a special look at 1956, the year 8 of his films were released, and 1958, another bumper year for this maverick.

Continued from Part 1

Kishore Kumar actor

While on Baap Re Baap, it was a unique film wherein almost every character plays a comic part, barring the heroine, Chand Usmani and her mother. Very rare to see actors like Jayant, Ulhas, SN Banerjee all do comic roles. Surely Kishore was leading the comic brigade. I just wish to add one more song from this film to highlight the actor/singer Kishore’s unique contribution to a song.

As a singer he could not add all this for any other actor that he was playbacking for. For his own act he did this multiple times in many films. The song is Daal kaise gale jab ki joota chale, aisi shaadi se hum to kunware bhale. Of course, Jaan Nissar Akhtar saheb would have written the lyrics and Nayyar saheb would have composed the tune (though OP Nayyar is on record claiming that this song was composed by C Ramchandra),  but there is such a  tremendous amount that Kishore adds to it as both an actor and a singer that remains unparalleled. You have probably never witnessed such a phenomenon from an actor-singer. Study this song, seriously if you can 🙂

Daal kaise gale jab ki joota chale (Baap Re Baap, 1955) OP Nayyar (or C Ramchandra)/ Jaan Nissar Akhtar/ Kishore



1956 saw the highest number of releases in a single year with Kishore as a hero. He had 8 releases. Professionally successful, this year brought a personal setback. From 1953, his film projects had kept him extremely busy and as such he could not spend time with his young wife Ruma and son, Amit. He had married Ruma in 1951 and Amit was born in 1952. In pursuit of success, Kishore was to spend lesser and lesser time at home. By the end of the year 1955, Ruma had walked out. Soon after, they divorced. Success had taken its toll.

As they say, the show must go on, and Kishore carried on. Singing for himself, as a voice for Dev Anand, and successfully acting as the main lead in movies was where he devoted all his time now.

Paise ka mantar, paise ka jantar, paisa-paisa chhoo (Paisa Hi Paisa, 1956) Anil Biswas / Majrooh / Kishore

Indeed it was paise ka jantar, paise ka mantar, gazab tera jaadoo. Chasing success and money was at its peak for this talented youngster.

The eight releases in 1956 were a true spread across the spectrum, in terms of their demands on the acting abilities of their hero, Kishore. He was now an accomplished actor-performer on screen.

In Bhagwan’s Bhagam Bhag and Mehrish’s Paisa Hi Paisa his role was a light comedy; in MV Raman’s Bhai Bhai and RC Talwar’s Mem Sahib the demands were diverse. These were serious roles. In K Amarnath’s Naya Andaz and Mohan Sehgal’s New Delhi, he played the typical Hindi film hero. These films were hits with songs that were even bigger hits, remaining favourites even after over 60 years.

Kishore Kumar and Meena Kumari in Naya Andaz

Kishore Kumar and Meena Kumari in Naya Andaz (Pic courtesy: Pinterest)

Chronologically placed, these films of 1956, with the names of the directors, his leading ladies and music directors, were:

* Aabroo / Chaturbhuj A Doshi / Smriti Biswas / Bulo C Rani
* Bhagam Bhag / Bhagwan / Smriti Biswas / OP Nayyar
* Bhai Bhai / MV Raman / Nimmi / Madan Mohan
* Dhake Ki Malmal / JK Nanda / Madhubala / OP Nayyar and Robin Chatterjee
* Mem Sahib / RC Talwar / Meena Kumari / Madan Mohan
* Naya Andaz / K Amarnath / Meena Kumari / OP Nayyar
* New Delhi / Mohan Sehgal / Vyjayanthimala / Shankar Jaikishan
* Paisa Hi Paisa / Mehrish / Mala Sinha and Shakila as heroines / Anil Biswas

He also had a cameo this year in Bimal Roy Productions’ Parivar, directed by Asit Sen and music by Salil Chowdhury. He sang and performed the hit, Kuen mein kood ke mar jana yaar, tum shaadi mat karna, in this film.

Kuen mein kood ke mar jana yaar tum (Parivar, 1956) Salil Chowdhury / Shailendra / Kishore

While Paisa Hi Paisa was a film where he was in the lead role, some songs were recorded in the voice of Rafi and then re-recorded by Kishore. The first time Anil da worked with Kishore was in the 1953 Fareb duet (with Lata),  Aa mohabbat ki basti basayenge hum with lyrics by Majrooh, and then this film in 1956, his last with Kishore. I had spoken to Anil da about Kishore and these songs; that conversation will come up at the end of this write-up.

Kishore Kumar and Vyjayanthimala

Kishore Kumar and Vyjayanthimala in Nakhrewaali, dekhne mein dekh lo hai kaisi bholi bhaali

Some of the songs from his films of 1956 deserve a mention as well:
* Hey babu, yeh hai zamana tera, hey babu (Bhagam Bhaag) OP Nayyar / Majrooh / with Rafi
* Mera naam Abdul Rehman, pista wala main hoon Pathan (Bhai Bhai) Madan Mohan / Rajinder Krishan / with Lata
* Dil dil se mila kar dekho, apna to bana kar dekho (Mem Sahib) Madan Mohan / Rajinder Krishan
* Nakhrewaali, dekhne mein dekh lo hai kaisi bholi bhaali (New Delhi) Shankar Jaikishan / Shailendra
* Meri neendon mein tum, mere khwabon mein tum (Naya Andaz) OP Nayyar / Jaan Nissar Akhtar / with Shamshad
* Fariyaad hai fariyaad, suno meri fariyaad, pyar kiya jhak maari (Paisa Hi Paisa) Anil Biswas / Majrooh

Hey babu yeh hai zamana tera hey babu (Bhagam Bhaag, 1956) OP Nayyar / Majrooh / Rafi and Kishore

In the song above Kishore shares screen presence with Bhagwan Dada who was known for his dance steps and has been aped by many top heroes down the years, but notice how Kishore maintains his steps as his own. The Free Acting style of acting had become Kishore’s identity. His entire body, limbs, expressions, all danced any which way he felt, impromptu.

The conventional view where acting is concerned is that only serious acting is true acting and that is taught and propagated in acting schools and practiced by method actors. Yet, it is far more difficult to enact comedy naturally. This is what Kishore had mastered. It also showed in his singing as he could literally enact a song while recording it as a playback singer.


1957 had only five releases, but each became a hit with memorable songs.

Munna bada pyara, ammi ka dulara (Musafir, 1957) Salil Chowdhury / Shailendra / Kishore

Musafir was Hrishikesh Mukherji’s first directorial venture. It was a film that had three separate stories intertwined into one film. Kishore was in the second story. In the other two parts, there were stars such as Dilip Kumar, Suchitra Sen, Usha Kiron and Shekhar. The three lead players did not share the screen, though they did appear together in the titles.

Satyen Bose’s Bandi was another serious role. His heroine was Shyama and music was by Hemant Kumar. It starred the three Ganguly brothers – Ashok Kumar, Anoop Kumar and Kishore Kumar together for the first time. In one of her interviews, Kishore’s fourth wife, Leena had mentioned this as her most favourite Kishore song.

Chup hoja ameeron ki ye sone ki ghadi hai (Bandi, 1957) Hemant Kumar / Rajinder Krishan / Kishore

Miss Mary saw him in a parallel role with the lead played by Gemini Ganeshan (Rekha’s father) against Meena Kumari. Directed by LV Prasad it had music by Hemant Kumar and Kishore had that crazy song, Gaana na aaya, bajaana na aaya.

Gaana na aaya (Miss Mary, 1957) Hemant Kumar / Rajinder Krishan / Kishore

Director Narinder Suri brought Kishore together with Shakila in his film, Begunah. Music was by Shankar Jaikishan. The film was based on the 1954 Danny Kaye starrer, Knock On Wood, and within a few days of its release, it had to be removed from the cinema halls as rights were infringed. It had that lovely breezy Kishore and Usha Mangeshkar duet, Aaja raat beeti jaye, shama tadap ke bujh na jaaye. Another attraction in the film was Jaikishan’s appearance in the song, performing for the film on piano, Aye pyaase dil bezubaan sung by Mukesh.

The fifth release that year was MV Raman’s Asha with Vyjayanthimala as the heroine. The film also had Asha Parekh in a noticeable role for the first time. C Ramchandra scored the hit music with lyrics by Rajinder Krishan. The Kishore solo, Haal tujhe apni duniya ka nazar to aata hoga, got critical acclaim. The top popularity, though, belonged to the immortal tandem Eena Meena Deeka, the other version was by Asha Bhosle.

Eena Meena Deeka (Asha, 1957) C Ramchandra / Rajinder Krishan / Kishore



1958 was another bumper year for Kishore. It is believed that to reduce or write off his tax burden he ventured into film production but ended up with the all-time super hit, Chalti Ka Naam Gadi. So slick was this comedy/crime thriller that it entertains watchers even after 60 years. Kishore Kumar’s excellent comic act paired with his brothers Ashok and Anoop and with the hottest star of the era Madhubala as his heroine became the film’s advantage.

The cutest of romantic dates you can think of in Haal kaisa hai janab ka

Chalti Ka Naam Gadi has always been a pleasure to watch and re-watch. Add to it superb music by the SD Burman and Majrooh team and immortality got stamped on this film. Kishore’s secretary, Anoop Sharma, was the official producer and Satyen Bose was the director who had earlier in Bandi extracted a more serious performance from Kishore. But, to enact a naturally comic role is not at all an easy job. In fact, it demands far more skill to have perfect camera timing and dialogue delivery – remember there was no aftermath dubbing in those days – and restrained yet outlandish acting so as to tickle the viewers’ funny bone without turning into slapstick.

How many movies by other recognized actors, if any, do we movie buffs remember that match Kishore’s performances in film after film, such as this one and many others, viz. Baap Re Baap, Bhagam Bhag, Chacha Zindabad, Shararat, Dilli Ka Thug, Half Ticket, Door Ki Chhaon Mein, Jhumroo, Mr. X in Bombay, Podosan, Lukochuri, etc. This one song, a landmark for all times, is enough to illustrate how at-home this actor was with his performances, especially one who came to the industry to become a singer.

Ik ladki bheegi-bhaagi si, soti raaton mein jaagi si (Chalti Ka Naam Gadi, 1958) SD Burman / Majrooh / Kishore

Almost simultaneously with Chalti Ka Naam Gadi, Kishore produced a film in Bengali, launching himself as a first-time hero in Bangla cinema and that too in a double role, through Lukochuri. The film starred Mala Sinha and Anita Guha, was directed by Kamal Majumdar and Hemant Kumar or Hemanta Mukhopadhyay, as he was known to Bengali cinema, scored the music. This film, too, was a hit and all its songs became very popular.


Kishore Kumar and Mala Sinha singing Shudhu ektu khani chaawa aar ektu khani paawa (Kishore-Geeta duet in Lukochuri)

For the first time, under the expert supervision of Hemant da, he recorded a Rabindra Sangeet (Tagore song), a duet, with his first wife, Ruma Devi, Mayabono bihaarini horini gahono sopno sanchaarini. One more duet with Ruma was Ei to hethaaye kunjo chhayaye swapno madhur mohe.

He had a duet with Geeta Dutt too, Shudhu ektu khani chaawa aar ektu khani paawa. His solos from the film were Ek poloke ektu dekh aar o ektu beshi holey khoti ki, and that crazy, Shing nei tobu naam taar shingo, inspired by Danny Kaye’s, O by jingo. The song was used in its Hindi version in RD Burman’s Kehte Hain Mujhko Raaja (produced and acted by Biswajit) as Ek dui teen char gili gili gili.

Shing nei tobu naam taar shingo (Lukochuri, 1958) Hemant Mukhopadhyay / Gauri Prasanna Majumdar/ Kishore. The song became the best known nonsense lyrics song in Bengali cinema and is today used in an advertisement for Bournvita.

SD Narang’s Dilli Ka Thug with Nutan had music by Ravi. That over-the-top crazy C.A.T cat, cat mane billi was a super hit. Another super hit for the year 1958 was director Rakhan’s Ashok Kumar production, Raagini, with Padmini under OP Nayyar’s hit music. Recollect Main bangali chhokra karun pyar ko namaskaram, from this film. MV Raman’s Chandan and CP Dixit’s Kabhi Andhera Kabhi Ujala were two films with the same hero, both with Nutan as the heroine, and both based on a similar story. Chandan, with songs composed by Madan Mohan released first and did decent business until Kabhi Andhera Kabhi Ujala, with music by OP Nayyar, released.

C-A-T Cat maane billi (Dilli Ka Thug, 1958) Ravi / Majrooh / Kishore and Asha


Geeta Dutt and Kishore

Kishore recording a song with Geeta Dutt

Producer-director Arbind Sen’s Jaalsaaz with Mala Sinha, music by N Dutta and producer-director HS Rawail’s Shararat with Meena Kumari and Kumkum with music by Shankar Jaikishan in 1959 gave Kishore double roles in both films. Both scored well at the box office. The music of Shararat was a bigger hit with songs like Hum matwale naujawan sung by Kishore, Dekh aasman pe chaand muskuraye (Geeta Dutt and Kishore Kumar), Tera teer, O bepeer, dil ke aar-paar hai (Lata) and the evergreen, Ajab hai dastaan teri aye zindagi (Rafi).

It is a myth that Rafi sang Ajab hai dastan teri aye zindagi for Kishore on screen because the song was not in Kishore’s vocal range. The reality remains that Kishore had a double role. In one role he sings in his own voice; to establish the difference between the two characters Rawail used Rafi’s voice for the second Kishore role.

Producer-director Om Prakash’s light-hearted Chacha Zindabad with Anita Guha as his heroine was another hit in 1959. Music was by Madan Mohan with songs that were popular then and still remain so. Bairan neend na aaye, and, Preetam daras dikhao – both by Lata – Bach gaye hum dono faste faste (Lata/Kishore), Des chhudaaye bhes chhudaye (Kishore) and this one by Kishore are the ones that remain in music lovers’ memory. A bit of Danny Kaye and Fred Astaire mixed in his stage act here.

Ae haseenon, naazneeno, main dil hatheli pe leke aa raha hoon (Chacha Zindabad, 1959) Madan Mohan / Rajinder Krishan / Kishore


Apna Haath Jagannath, Bewaqoof, Girl Friend and Mehlon Ke Khwaab were his four releases in 1960. He had married Madhubala by then. Apna Haath Jagannath was by producer-director Mohan Sehgal with Sayeeda Khan as his heroine and music by SD Burman. Tum jahan jahan, hum wahan wahan (Asha/Kishore) was the lovely duet here. My favourite is the duet, Chhai ghata bijli chamki (Asha/Kishore).

Kishore’s Ghar mein sataati hai kadaki, raste mein ik shokh ladki can make you smile anywhere. The music of Bewaqoof was also composed by SD Burman; its producer-director was IS Johar and Mala Sinha was the female lead. My favourites here are the two duets by Asha and Kishore, Tumhi piya chikara, hmm hmm garsiya, and Michael hai to cycle hai.

Mala Sinha and Kishore Kuma

Mala Sinha and Kishore Kumar in Michael hai to cycle hai

Girl Friend had Waheeda Rehman opposite Kishore. It was directed by Satyen Bose and had music by Hemant Kumar. It had that evergreen Sudha Malhotra and Kishore duet, Kashti ka khamosh safar hai, shaam bhi hai tanhayi bhi, and Kishore solo, Aaj rona pada to samjhe (based on Hemant da’s own, Prem eshe chhilo). It also had a peculiar Kishore solo, O madam, come come come, tum theek hi kehti ho madam, main pagal hoon. I had asked Hemant da about this song and he just said, who could tell Kishore what to do? This was all by him only (the tune and its execution).

Mehlon Ke Khwaab was Madhubala’s production, directed by Haider with music by her favourite, S Mohinder. It had her sister, Chanchal and Pradeep Kumar in the cast along with herself and Kishore. The film released in the month of March and they were to pair again next year in Kishore’s production of Jhumroo. By late next year (1961) Madhubala started to show severe signs of ill health owing to her heart condition and that, expectedly, took a toll on Kishore’s career.

Kishore is at his typical best in this song, as an actor, and as a singer. Travelling in a train he is romancing Chanchal with Madhubala and KN Singh as co-passengers and taking riotous digs at bechara Ram Avtar. I wonder how many in the present generation will understand the term “bepaindey ke lotey” as in the song Motey motey, dil ke khotey, grand hotel ke double rotey, bepaindey ke lotey.

Yeh hai jeevan ki rail, yeh hai toofan mail (Mehlon Ke Khwaab, 1960) S Mohinder/ Raja Mehndi Ali Khan/ Kishore

Continued to Part 3

Don’t miss the other 3 parts:

Kishore Kumar The Actor: A Legend’s Journey Down the Years Part 1

Kishore Kumar The Actor: A Legend’s Journey Down the Years Part 3

Kishore Kumar The Actor: A Legend’s Journey Down the Years Part 4

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Consulting Editor Learning and Creativity and Silhouette Magazine. To talk of a few passions of Peeyush, one must start with music. He is known to be a collector of music and information pertaining to Indian cinema (majorly Hindi) spanning a period from early 1930s to 1980s. He has a large collection of Bengali and Punjabi music and material as well. He also boasts of a huge library of related material. Peeyush has delivered talks and lectures on music appreciation, contributed write ups in numerous news papers and magazines. He has co-authored a tribute publication on Anil Biswas. He has co-hosted radio talk shows on music and met and interviewed a number of personalities. Occasionally, he delivers talks even now. Peeyush has been the founder secretary of the prestigious, Vintage Hindi Music Lovers Association in Bangalore that honored Anil Biswas in 1985. He is known as a storehouse of old Hindi music and information regarding music and movies. Peeyush is well read in Vedic culture and literature and is invited in various centers to deliver enlightening lectures on Vedic values. His range spans from four Vedas to Upanishads and Darshans as well as Bhagvad Gita. He has delivered talks on Yog Darshan in Yoga schools and large gatherings. He currently lives in Oshawa, Ontario in Canada.
All Posts of Peeyush Sharma

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5 thoughts on “Kishore Kumar The Actor: A Legend’s Journey Down the Years Part 2

  • A Bharat

    The second part brings out, at least to me, the cream of Kishore magic both in singing and acting.

    Peeyush mentions twice that in a Kishore song the purported music director practically signs off and let Kishore do his own stuff. And who, even Kishore himself, will know what he is going to come up with. To me the best example is the Chan chan baje rupaiya in CHAR PAISE which has no resemblance to any of the other songs in that film supposedly composed by one B D Burman, but has close affinity with every hallagulla song of Kishore of the 50s!

    Towards the end of the 50s a draconian “lyric censorship” began which took the toll of many films including Love in Simla, Kagaz ke Phool, Miss Bombay, Jaali Note etc. One of the films affected was Kishore’s film Jaal Saaz. It had a sizzling duet with Geeta, Current!-Jab Jab Tujhko Chua!. It was considered so hot that only the lyrics but the divine Geeta’s voice was also changed in the film version which, to put it mildly, is tepid! Poor N Dutta! But the original is still available in the 78rpm record version. Kishore and Geeta have fantastic session in it! Do go on Peeyush! Lets have the remaining parts of the story!

  • Peeyush Sharma

    Thanks again Bharat.

    I simply love that Geeta Kishore original from Jaalsaaz. True tragedy that censor had to kill the song.

    I just can’t tell you how much I enjoyed putting the story on Kishore as an actor together. Great fun.

  • A Bharat

    Mayabonobiharini harini which was originally sung by Hemant himself in the SHYAMA LP becomes a duet for Kishore and Anita Guha in Lukochori. And how softly that scene is picturised! It is a genuine pleasure.

    1. Antara

      Bharat ji,

      Thank you for your fabulous comments. As always your observations added new insights to the subject under discussion and this time it is our much loved genius Kishore Da. I always await your comments eagerly.

      The Geeta-Kishore duet must have been great fun – I could not find it on YouTube.

      The Rabindra Sangeet you have referred to is a super classic. Of course, the rendition of Hemanta in the Shyama dance drama is of another world 🙂 But I really love the exuberant Rabindra Sangeet in Kishore Da’s voice – my favourites are Pagla hawar baadal dine, Ami chini go chini tomaare and Aloker eyi jharna dhaaraye dhuiye dao. In that respect, Mayabono biharini is soft and subdued for that romantic effect.

      Never heard of BD Burman. Was he connected to the legendary Burmans?

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