Kishore Kumar

Kishore Kumar

Biography

He was a natural comedian who craved romantic leads, an actor who may have found his greatest success as a singer, and a multitalented performer who is one of India's best-known voices. Born in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, on August 4, 1929, Kishore Kumar never had any formal musical training, but he was a natural mimic: he taught himself to sing by imitating film superstar K.L. Saigal. In 1947, Kumar followed his brother Ashok to Bombay, where he took forgettable singing and acting gigs until he began to attract attention with songs like "Qusoor Aapka" in the 1951 film Bahar. True acting roles followed, and in 1953 Kumar captured audiences in Ladki. For years, his career knew no boundaries -- until tax problems in the 1960s forced him to take low-grade film jobs to pay the bills. But he rebounded in 1969 with the hit film Aradhana with a soundtrack by S.D. Burman. In 1976, Kumar refused to sing in a propaganda appearance for prime minister Indira Gandhi during her massive crackdown on civil liberties (known as the Emergency), and as a result his songs were banned for years. Though he had a difficult personal life (four marriages!), Kumar brought laughter to millions of people. Asha Bhosle considered him the most spontaneous and innovative singer she'd worked with, and he was known to spend days connecting with a song before recording it. The prolific Kumar performed an estimated 112 songs in S.D. Burman's films alone. He died of a heart attack in 1987.
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