Kishore Kumar: A Versatile Maverick
Kishore Kumar is synonymous to India’s Golden Age of music. Decades after his demise, his tunes continue to haunt the ordinary music lover, who is swayed by the rhythms created by this artist par excellence, writes Sharad Dutt.
The legendary artist Kundan Lal Saigal belonged to the first generation of singers. Saigal had the largest fan following across the country and one such ardent fan was a young lad in Khandwa, a small town of Madhya Pradesh. He would buy Saigal's records and started singing Saigal songs at the tender age of five. He was none other than the irrepressible Kishore Kumar.
Abhas Kumar Ganguly was born on August 4, 1929, to Kunj Lal Ganguly and Gauri Devi. Youngest among his siblings – Ashok Kumar, Sati Devi and Anup Kumar – his name Abhas was changed to Kishore Kumar at the advice of an astrologer. In the words of Ashok Kumar, "As a child, Kishore's voice was shrill. At the age of ten, came a turning point. Once, when his mother was chopping vegetables, he rushed into the kitchen and hurt his foot resulting in a finger falling apart. Kishore suffered immensely and would cry the whole day and night for a month. It was a blessing in disguise as the constant crying metamorphosed his shrill voice and it became melodious. I myself joined Bombay Talkies as an actor-singer. Whenever I came to Khandwa, he would sing Saigal songs at my request. He charged others four annas but surprisingly he charged me one anna for my songs." Kishore's love for singing affected his studies. After passing his Intermediate, he left for Bombay to meet his hero KL Saigal, but Saigal passed away on January 18, 1947.