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About Kishore Kumar
Known for his comic roles in Indian films of the 1950s and for his expressive and versatile singing voice, Kishore Kumar (born August 4, 1929, Khandwa, British India —died October 13, 1987, Bombay [now Mumbai]), a leading Indian actor, singer, composer, and director. He lent his voice to a number of top screen actors throughout a career spanning nearly four decades.
In the present-day state of Madhya Pradesh, Kumar was the youngest child of an established Bengali family. While he was still a teenager, his elder brother Ashok Kumar was the reigning star of the Bombay Talkies film studio, where he worked as an occasional chorus singer. While the younger Kumar’s heart lay in singing, he made his acting debut in the nondescript film Shikari in 1946. His stardom as a singer-actor was propelled by the 1951 release of Andolan, which ultimately helped him escape his brother Ashok’s shadow.
At the beginning of his career, Kumar primarily appeared in slapstick comedies, where his ability to sing and act was evident. The role was played by him in both Bimal Roy’s Naukri (1954) and Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Musafir (1957), which dealt with the issue of unemployed youth seeking a job in order to support his family. It was in the film New Delhi (1956), in which Kumar portrayed a Punjabi North Indian pretending to be a Tamil South Indian in order to rent a room in the capital, that Kumar reached his peak as a comic actor. In Chalti ka naam gaadi (1958; “That Which Runs Is a Car”), which starred three brothers—Ashok Kumar, Anoop Kumar, and Kishore Kumar—as three brothers who are threatened by two women to end their bachelorhood vows.
Dev Anand, a leading actor of the 1940s, relied on Kishore Kumar to sing the songs he produced for him. Kumar sang mainly for Anand for the next two decades, and their partnership created musical goldmines in Munimji (1955), Funtoosh (1956), Nau do gyarah (1957), and Jewel Thief (1967). In 1969, Kumar’s career reached a new peak: the film Aradhana catapulted Rajesh Khanna to stardom, and Kumar became the Hindi film industry’s leading playback singer. The position was held by Kumar until his death.