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

August 7, 2019 | By

Peeyush Sharma concludes his tribute and exploration of the genius that was Kishore Kumar by looking at his career in the 1970s – the decade that bid goodbye to Kishore Kumar, the actor and heralded Kishore Kumar, the singer.

Continued from Part 3

Kishore Kumar actor

The 1970s

Though the leading main roles had stopped coming to Kishore Kumar in 1968, that was not the last we saw of him as a hero as he was to make his own films such as Door Ka Rahi in 1971 with Ashok Kumar, Tanuja and son Amit in the cast. Production, direction, story, music and lyrics were by Kishore. He had Hemant Kumar render the title song again, Chalti chali jaaye zindagi ki dagar, kabhi khatam na ho ye safar.

With Sulakshana Pundit he sang the evergreen, Beqaraar dil tu gaaye ja khushiyon se bhare wo taraane. But his solos were simply a class apart that showcased his composing and singing supremacy at once. You may remember Jeevan se na haar, O jeene wale, baat meri tu maan arre matwale, the more sombre ones, Khushi do ghadi ki miley na miley and Panthi hoon main uss path ka ant nahin jiska. 

Panthi hoon main uss path ka, ant nahin jiska (Door Ka Raahi, 1971) Kishore Kumar/ A Irshad/ Kishore

An end and a beginning

1969 saw no release of his, but the year was very significant. SD Burman and Shakti Samanta’s Aradhana firmly established Kishore as the top male singer in Hindi films by becoming the voice of a younger generation of stars starting with superstar Rajesh Khanna.

Also on 23rd February 1969, Madhubala breathed her last. She died of Ventricular Septal Defect, commonly known as a hole in the heart.  Kishore had married her in 1960 knowing of her condition fully well as she was diagnosed with this condition in 1954. She was only 36 and he 40 years old.

Aansoo Aur Muskaan (1970), Main Sundar Hoon (1971) and Hungama (1971) all saw him in cameos. So did Mehmood’s Bombay To Goa in 1972 (directed by S Ramanathan). A film that did wonders for the till-then-a-flop-star, Amitabh Bachchan, it had Kishore playback for Bachchan and sing one song himself as Kishore Kumar in the film. Music was by RD Burman and the songs were super hits.

O mehki mehki thhandi hawa ye bata (Bombay To Goa, 1972) RD Burman/ Rajinder Krishan/ Kishore and chorus

A longer video clip of the song has been used to share a small glimpse of Kishore’s Man Friday and driver, Abdul, and his mention of the film Love In Bombay. This was the Joy Mukherji film that finally got made in 1975 but could not find a proper release for many years. It had Kishore in a parallel role. Music was by Shankar Jaikishan.

Kishore Kumar in Pyar Diwana

Kishore Kumar in Pyar Diwana (1972)

1972 also saw his last released film as a hero, Pyar Diwana. It was a film that had got delayed in the making. The film was produced and directed by Samar Chatterji and starred Mumtaz in the lead. Music was by Lala-Sattar, the remaining duo from the only 3 partner music directors, Lala-Asar-Sattar. The film and songs made no mark.

Beyond this he made his own films, none of which caught the audience’s fancy. Badhti Ka Naam Daadhi (1974), Shabaash Daddy (1978), Chalti Ka Naam Zindagi (1981) and Door Waadiyon Mein Kahin (1982) were the released ones. Mention must be made of Door Wadiyon Mein Kahin (with Shyamalee in the lead) was a remarkable film as it had no songs and Kishore used natural sounds to construct its background music as well.

Another cameo in a Mehmood film was in Ek Baap Chhe Bete (1978).

Chhedo na meri zulfein, sab log kya kahenge (Ganga Ki Lahren, 1964) Chitragupt/ Majrooh/ Lata-Kishore

Kishore’s acting career in a nutshell

His Heroines:
* 6 films with Mala Sinha
* 5 each with Meena Kumari, Vyjayanthimala and Shyama
* 4 films each with Smriti Biswas and Nutan
* 3 films each with Tanuja and Mumtaz
* 2 films each with Kalpana and Shakila, with one unreleased with each of them.
* 2 films each with Shashikala, Jamuna, Shakuntala, Usha Kiran, Anita Guha, Yogita Bali, Rajashree (from the south), Sonia Sahani, Ganga and Nimmi
* Kishore acted in 1 film each with 21 heroines.
* His highest number with a heroine were 8 with Kumkum, plus one unreleased (Maa).
* In a final analysis of figures, for the record, he had 5 released and 2 unreleased films with Madhubala.


Kumkum acted with Kishore Kumar in 8 films

Unreleased films: Among his unreleased films were many of his own productions and one directed by Phani Majumdar, Maa (with Kumkum). Music was by Chitragupt and songs were released and gained popularity. Yaaron manaao jashn-e-bahaaran maan gayi, maan gayi mehbooba, was one of them.

His Directors:
* He self-directed 7 of his released and 4 unreleased films
* MV Raman – 6 films
* Mohan Sehgal – 5 films
* Satyen Bose – 4 films
* RC Talwar – 3 films
* Phani Majumdar – 3 released and 2 unreleased films
* SD Narang, HS Rawail, Maruti and Kamal Majumdar – 2 films each
* Rest were all one film director-actor associations.

It stands to reason that Kishore’s singing career made an even greater impression on the audience for such a rich acting career to be ignored/forgotten.

Kishore Kumar

Kishore Kumar with Dev Anand, Sahir Ludhianvi, Yash Chopra and RD Burman (Pic: The Better India)

Anil Biswas and Kishore Kumar, the Singer

Anil da (Anil Biswas) told me that he was mostly around when Roshan was rehearsing the Mashuqa (1953) duet with Kishore and Meena Kapoor, Yeh sama hum tum jawan pehlu se dil sarak jaye. This is when he met Kishore multiple times. At first, Kishore used to avoid interactions with Anil da as Anil da was much senior and had an aura of being serious and deep into classical-based music. But Anil da liked Kishore’s voice, the depth in it impressed him. He asked Kishore to sing for him for Fareb (1953). Kishore could not say no, but after listening to the songs he kept avoiding Anil da claiming that these were very tough compositions and he would not be able to sing them. Anil da also said it was a challenge as Anil da would hand out written notations and improvisations added to these notations. Kishore could not decipher the notations. Finally, Anil da said I will sing and you just copy me.

Anil Biswas

Three songs from Fareb were thus recorded in such manner. The solo, Husn bhi hai udaas udaas, was popular, but, the duet with Lata was a major hit, Aa mohabbat ki basti basayenge hum, iss zameen se alag asmanon se door (all lyrics by Majrooh).

Kishore, as per Anil da, had an uncanny understanding of sur and taal. He could grasp very quickly and reproduce notes with amazing perfection. His voice was unique, the timbre and emotion in it were very impressive and so was the expression.

Next, when they came together for Paisa Hi Paisa in 1956, Kishore was the hero of the film. He asked Anil da not to try him out with those tough compositions and have them recorded by other singers. Keeping in mind the requirements of the film, Anil da said he recorded a couple of songs in Rafi’s voice after rehearsing with Manna Dey too. These were light-hearted comic songs. On the set when Kishore heard the songs that he had to enact, he acted them singing along loudly. By this time Kishore’s image as an actor busy with many films in hand had already been established well. Anil da says he was amazed by Kishore’s delivery and impromptu improvisations that he added to the songs while enacting them out. The director, Mehrish, was asked by Kishore to just let him sing aloud and act and for all other purposes retain the Rafi version. But Anil da insisted they record in Kishore’s voice as he had just performed the improvised version. Thus, we have two versions of at least one song.

Pyar kiya jhak maari (by Rafi)

And the Kishore version with his own improvisation: 

Pyar kiya jhak maari (by Kishore)

In a very peculiar statistical analysis Kishore, in his first active 21 years in films, sang (recorded) only 360 songs. Then Aradhana happened, and in the next 18 years, he recorded approximately 2550 songs. As they say, nothing succeeds like success.

I wish to add just one more song from this artist’s repertoire to this essay. The first Tagore song Kishore ever sang in Lukochuri (1958) with Ruma Devi behind the scenes, on-screen, with Anita Guha.

Mayabono biharini (Lukochuri, 1958) Rabindranath Tagore / Tagore / Ruma Devi and Kishore

Indian cinema has never seen another Kishore Kumar, the genius all-rounder. He held his unique position as a comic-hero in 50-plus movies. Enacting and performing, singing along as well, impromptu improvisations to whatever the filmmakers or music directors had prepared on paper for him to do. He out-did it all. Sure enough, we have had other comic-heroes as well, but no one matches the sheer quality, quantity, or uniqueness in inputs and energy with which Kishore entertained us. Hats off, sir!

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 2

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

Creative Writing

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

  • A Bharat

    This last portion sums up a remarkable life in films. And the Anilda interview gives it a perfect finish. Thanks Peeyush.
    This is the first time I have heard the Rafi version. Poor Rafi. In a typical Kishore song Kishore is Kishore and Rafi is Rafi.

  • Peeyush Sharma

    Very true Bharat. Kishore was an actor singer and he perfected that art to the peak. He out-did the act part and the song delivery part. He knew he had to survive in the tough cinema world. He simply excelled in what he attempted.

    Mukesh had his niche, so did Hemant and Manna and Talat. Rafi got all types of songs and was the most versatile, what was left for Kishore? Only his own songs (in films he acted in) and Dev Anand songs. He had to survive on this.

    Right from early fifties to late sixties, the songs that he sang in his own acted films were hits. He was fortunate that when his actor-song period was getting over SD Burman and Dev stood with him like a rock. He wouldn’t let this opportunity go away anymore.

    Remember Nau Do Gyarah in 1957 had the same song share ratio between Kishore and Rafi as Aradhana had in 1969. Dev was the debonair then. Kishore had for personal reasons missed out then, but not again.

  • HQ Chowdhury

    Thank you Peeyush Sharma for your outstanding write ups on Kishore Kumar. Each part has its own beauty. So absorbing! Finished all the four parts in one go and the heart desires many more like these.

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