Kishore Kumar, one of the greatest playback singers in India, was born today, on August 4. Besides being a singer, he was also an actor, screenwriter, composer, lyricist, producer and director. His songs can even be heard today on retro radio channels and stored in the vinyls owned by his fans. But it’s not only the old, the young too are increasingly becoming appreciative of his records.

Born as Abhas Kumar Ganguly in Khandwa (Madhya Pradesh), on August 4, 1929, he was introduced early to the word of cinema as his elder brother, Ashok Kumar, was a popular actor, and his brother Anup to also have ventured into cinema. Beginning his career as an actor, Kishore Kumar soon took to singing and lent his voice to actors like Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Jeetendra and others. He was known for his sense of humour and wit. On his birthday, we take a look at some of the interesting facts about Kishore da.

Noticing talent: Sachin Dev Burman was the one who first spotted Kishore Kumar’s talent. On his visit to the singer’s house, he heard Kishore imitating the yesteryear actor and singer KL Saigal, whom he considered to be his guru. Burman advised the aspiring vocalist to develop a style of his own, and the rest they say is history.

Singing in female voice: Kishore Kumar shared the screen space with Pran, Madhubala and Helen in 1962 film Half Ticket. Composer Salil Chowdhury wanted him and Lata Mangeshkar to sing a duet Aake Seedhi Lagi Dil Pe. Mangeshkar, however, was not present in town though the song still had to be recorded. Kishore then came up with the idea to record the song in both his own and in contralto (attributing to a female voice). Chowdhury loved the song and used in the film.

Also read: Legendary singer Kishore Kumar’s lesser known live performances

Tree is man’s best friend: Kishore Kumar had no friends and he reportedly confessed that he actually had conversations with trees. When a journalist ask him why he led a lonely life, he took her to the garden of his house and told her about the presence of a few trees and called them out by names.

Multi-lingual singer: Kishore Kumar sang in several languages, that include Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, Assamese, Kannada, Oriya and Bhojpuri.

Beware of Kishore: As mentioned earlier, Kumar was known for his terrific sense of humour. Reports say that he had placed a signboard on the door of his flat that read ‘Beware of Kishore’. Producer HS Rawail visited his house to pay some dues. When the former offered to shake his hands, Kishore da bit his palm. Rawail was initially taken aback by his behaviour but laughed when Kumar pointed to the signboard.

Your wish is my command:  According to TOI, a director went to court to seek a verdict that Kishore Kumar was supposed to follow his instructions. But his plan backfired when the singer came to know about it. He refused to get out of the car until the director ordered him to do so. In fact, during a car scene, Kumar continued to drive up to Khandala because the director forgot to say ‘cut’.

Also read: 7 hit songs of Mohammad Rafi that prove Bollywood owes its musical versatility to him

Skulls and bones: Kishore Kumar led a secluded life and hated giving interviews. He refused to give in to reporters hounding him for a conversation. In fact, it is said that the singer had skulls and scary decor and lighting in his room as means to drive away journalists.

Half Make-Up: Kishore Kumar was very particular about the fees he received for his work. He would not record the song unless his secretary confirmed to have received the remuneration. In one incident, he appeared on the set with make-up on only one side of his face. When questioned by the director, Kishore da replied, “Aadha paisa to aadha make-up”.

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