Today, on 4th August, Kishore Kumar’s birthday I bring to you a collection of relatively unknown trivia about the Enigmatic genius.
Childhood: Kishore Kumar (Dada) on seeing his brother Ashok Kumar’s (DadaMoni) movie where he was beaten up quite a few times told Dadamoni that he has to fight more as he has lost lot of fans in Khandwa. He learnt yodeling by listening to his other brother Anoop Kumar’s Austrian records.
While Dadamoni had taken classical training from Saraswati Devi, Dada was self trained. He said he could do little else beside sing and as he was not good in studies he used to compose different tunes for different subjects He gave the example of a tune for a para on Malthusian theory of population.
The accident: As a child Dada had a hoarse grating voice jokingly called a broken bamboo by family elders. He however was committed to singing and kept on doing so. His favourite prank was to disturb the things his mother had neatly piled up. One day his mother was chopping vegetables and the young boy banged into the chopper and one of his tiny toes fell apart. Without surgical facilities or painkillers he was in constant pain and cried non-stop for more than 20 hours a day which continued for a month while the wound gradually healed. Miraculously his voice cleared and became melodious.
College Days: Dada took admission in a prestigious college in Indore after his matriculation. As he had acute stage fright he used to sing from behind the curtains. When he left for Bombay he owed Rs 5.75/- to his college canteen which inspired the “Paanch Rupaiya Baarah Aana” song in his “Chalti ka Naam Gaadi”
His Likes and dislikes: Dada, a great fan of Topol saw had seen the movie Fiddler on the roof more than 100 times and the stage show consecutively 4 times in London. He even went to meet him and took his autograph. Topol presented Dada a copy of his autobiography, Topol by Topol while Dada presented him records and cassettes of his songs.
Dada’s dislikes were telephone calls, tax problems, cigarette smoke, alcohol and the studio routine. He himself never smoked or drank. He never socialized and had very few friends. His best friends were the plants in his garden, each lovingly named by him.
Dada and Acting: Dadamoni wanted him to be an actor like himself. However Dada hated being an actor, so much so that he later confessed to Pritish Nandy in an interview that he used to deliberately muff up his lines so that he wont be selected as an actor. Later he liked singing for himself only. The turning point for his singing for others was after Kalyanji told him that why does he want to slog in the sun instead of singing in AC comfort.
Dada as hero, others as singer. As an actor, Dada had various other singers sing for him such as Rafi, Manna Dey, C. Ramchandra, Mahendra Kapoor and S. D. Baatish . Curiously the song “Aankhon ko Mila yaar se” from “Bhagam Bhag” had both Rafi and SD Baatish singing for Kishore- in the same song
Dada’s uprightness was evident when he refused to play to the tunes of a political party by singing at a Congress rally in Bombay at the “request” of Sanjay Gandhi. Information and Broadcasting Minister VC Shukla banned his songs (unofficially) but Dada became even more popular.
He is also perhaps the only producer-director who warned his distributors not to touch his films because they may not run as even he didn’t understand what he had made!