Kishore Kumar was born Abhas Kumar Ganguly on August 4, 1929 in the town of Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh. The youngest of the four siblings, Kishore was in his teens when elder brothers Ashok and Anoop Kumar made forays into the Bollywood filmdom. Soon Kishore Kumar too followed in the footsteps of his brothers, albeit with the aim of becoming a playback singer.
Kishore made his singing debut in the 1948 movie Ziddi where he
rendered the song Marne ki Duayen Kyon Mangu for Dev Anand. Unlike some
of his illustrious compatriots, Kishore did not have any formal training
in music and he used to imitate the style of the legendary K. L. Saigal.
Luckily Kishore's singing talent was spotted by composer Sachin Dev
Burman who gave him a couple of breaks in his films. But success still
eluded Kishore Kumar on the singing front even though his acting career
was on a smooth sailing.
Kishore kept striving to establish himself as a playback singer even as
he was peaking as an actor. The 1958 laugh-riot Chalti ka Naam Gaadi
featuring Kishore with his brothers and Madhubala struck gold in the
box-office. Kishore Kumar also earned accolades for his singing prowess
as his duets with Asha Bhosle, Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi Si and Haal Kaisa
Hai Janaab Ka proved to be major hits. The 1960s ushered in a lackluster
period for Kishore as he got embroiled in tax problems and success was
few and far between.
The 1969 movie Aradhana proved to be a watershed event for Kishore
Kumar as the roaring success of the film soundtracks pitch-forked him to
the higher-echelons of Bollywood playback singers. With hit numbers such
as Mere Sapnon ki Rani and Kora Kagaz Tha Yeh Man Mera, Kishore even
managed to outshone the legendary Mohammed Rafi who sang a couple of
songs for the film. From now on, there was no looking back for Kishore
as a string of superhit numbers for Rajesh Khanna established him as the
numero uno playback singer in Bollywood.
Kishore Kumar delivered a number of memorable hits with noted composer
S. D. Burman and enjoyed an equally fruitful association with his
prodigious son Rahul Dev Burman. He also churned out popular numbers
with composer duos Laxmikant - Pyarelal and Kalyanji - Anandji. While
professionally Kishore built up an enviable status in Hindi film music,
his personal life remained a roller-coaster ride. He tied the knot four
times and his fourth wife Leena Chandavarkar was two years older than
his son, Amit.
Kishore Kumar's last years were marked by a bout of eccentric behavior
that are often regarded an offshoot of his genius. He passed away on
October 13, 1987.