A Darker Truth

When anyone mentions Kishore Kumar today, one’s instant reaction is that he was a very famous comedian and then the second most popular reaction would be that he was a great singer. Must say, that is a lot to achieve in a single lifetime. But the truth is that is just the tip of the […]

When anyone mentions Kishore Kumar today, one’s instant reaction is that he was a very famous comedian and then the second most popular reaction would be that he was a great singer. Must say, that is a lot to achieve in a single lifetime. But the truth is that is just the tip of the iceberg. Kishore Kumar was a lot more than that.

Born in 1929 in a Brahmin family, no one had any idea that Kishore Kumar, born Abhas Kumar Ganguly, would ever become the mega star he grew to be. At the tender age of 19, he arrived in the city of dreams to try his luck. His brother Ashok was already an established film actor in Bombay. Naturally, Kishore Kumar too was nudged in the same direction. But what Kishore really wanted was to sing – he idolized Saigal Saab for his enchanting voice and tried to ape him. Though he had never received any training in singing, he went on to become one of the most famous singers the industry has ever seen.

Trying something new and excelling in it came naturally to Kishore. Due to his second wife -Madhubala’s heart condition, his acting career took a slump for 9 crucial years. But he saw this as an opportunity and created some really deep and meaningful movies in the time available.

As a film maker, Kishore’s style was vastly different from that of the jovial comedian that everyone saw. Being a realist to the core, his films were stark and naked – with a strong message and equally strong direction. Very to the point, it made quite a few people uncomfortable. He was labeled as an eccentric and his films were considered as not being commercially viable. But that’s exactly what they were not – he made those films not for main stream success, but for satisfaction.

One of his productions titled Door Gagan Ki Chaaon Mein features him in the title role. The story is that of a soldier, who is anxious to get home after a long and strenuous war only to see that his home has been torched to the ground and the only survivor of this catastrophe is his son who is so badly traumatized that he can’t speak. The movie is about the unspoken bond that the two develop between each other – one which starts of as slow and halting, but gradually becomes the epitome of love and devotion. The film also stars his son Amit and the duo has doe such a beautiful job – it is moving and brings tears to your eyes.

Then who can ever forget Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi – a light hearted comedy of errors which stars all the three brothers – Ashok, Kishore and Anup plus his second wife. In a hilarious and rib cracking comedy, Kishore has exhibited his versatility in direction – he showed everyone that he is not closed to anything.

It is really sad that of the 18 films that he made, only eight saw the light of day and even those were grossly under rated. When it came to expressing himself through films, Kishore Kumar let a deeper, intellectual side of him be seen. Unfortunately, not too many could see that part of him as they were too busy laughing at his antics in other films. If they would have made that effort, they would have seen another facet to this gem of a man.

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190 Blog Comments to “A Darker Truth”

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  1. Abhisek says:

    Kishoreda is ofcourse the king of all trades,the boss.THE GREATEST SINGER,ACTOR AND VERSATILE GENIUS IN THE UNIVERSE.He could modulate his voice,the expressions he had are best of all times.He sang each and every type of song in all languages.His range is best.Also his heroism in voice.

  2. Jane francis says:

    I’m an American relatively new to Bollywood music but the automatic affinity was for something I liked Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi. I had never seen anything like it! So here I am on this site dedicated to KK’s birthday and I’ve learned so much reading these comments. I want to comment on a much earlier opinion about the “inferior western music” used in modern Indian films today. I agree. It’s often irrelevant and this “music” honestly so easy to create. I know because I’m a composer and have loads of modern gadgets for making music on a computer. I don’t mean Kuch Kuch Hota Hai etc, but now that violence has become popular, the music seems to sink to an equally mundane level. Hopefully this will just be a phase. I have turned to older Indian movies because I often can’t stomach the western “in your face” idea of entertainment. If anyone has any classic movie recommendations please feel free to send them to me!
    PS Cheers to ALL brilliant Bollywood playback singers/actors!

  3. BOND007 says:

    One thing is for sure Popularity does not come without talent, there are no fools to make Kishore number ONE for 2 decades. He swept all good songs making Rafi to look his face in mirror twice before singing.

    Come on every actor/producer/director/music director wanted Kishore … WHY ? because had the talent and knew if kishore sings the song would be hit. And its true coz public demand. I am sure there might 10% of fools and not majority of Indians.

    Why Dev Anand /Rajesh Khanna/Amitabh/ and many young stars at that time wanted Kishore because he was good, I am sure they did not do a mistake by choosing kishore. They became Popular and to carry that image they wanted only Kishore to sing.

    Rafi supports I am sorry to say rafi was beaten from all ends by kishore, history cannot be redone, Kishore outclassed Rafi in all singing departments and that is why Kishore was number one for 2 decades till his death. I am sure after reading this you cannot deny the fact. If you guys still want to argue then I am really sorry its like ” What does Monkey know a smell of Jasime”. God has made few people whose brains cannot think or understand beyond its limit.

  4. Abhishek says:

    Kishoreda is the greatest all-round genius ever born.

  5. Mo says:

    We should be glad we were lucky to hear Kishore, Rafi, Lata, Mukesh and Asha.

  6. eskayes says:

    I am visiting this site after more than a year…And, what a pleasant surprise!!!..This place is rocking…

    I am an ardent Kishore fan and as such, I can find nothing wrong with his art and achievements….if what he could do and achieve were attainable by any lesser mortal…wishes would have been horses, as they say…

    Who is a better singer….Kishore or Rafi?

    I am not surprised at this debate at all….I have seen and even been part of several such discussions right from the days one started to appreciate hindi music…while the two were still around and panning out those memorable songs…I find nothing wrong with attempts to compare, they are bound to take place, it takes place in every walk of life…But to me, the fact is that this comparison is odious…both of them had their own realm of singing abilities…and so had some of the others like Manna Dey and Mukesh…anyway, this is not what I wanted to dwell on…

    What surprises me is the way some people have chosen to put down the other to accentuate their point…and there lies the crux of the issue…mark the words “accentuate their points”…it is only one’s limited horizons of mind and ability to synthesise a comprehension, that one would resort to something like this…that is to put down the other so that their point could be seen clear and loud…All I can say is if one unleashes the potential of one’s logic and expands the horizons of one’s mind, this discussion could be far meaningful and healthy…

  7. GM Ally says:

    I find all the argument regarding the comparisons between Mohammad Rafi and Kishore Kumar. KK came to prominnece ONLY after the so called decline of MR. Before that very few people took KK seriuosly perhaps not even KK himself. If he did become popular it was because the likes of Talat Mahmood Mukesh etc. were not around. KK WAS popular but that does not make him Great. McDonald is very popular but that does not make it cordon blue. If comparisons were to be made the whole aspect of issues should be taken into consideration not just a few moments in time.
    How many bhajans, how many ghazals, how many qawals so on and so on have bothe singers sung? Lets compare the songs themselves and see if there can be any similarities. Any Tom Dick and Harry can sing a lot of the most popular songs those two sang but when it comes to the real stuff this is where the difference makes itself apparent.
    KK’s Dukhi man mere was a nice and beautiful song and there are a few other songs which would rate very high. Mere naseeb mein aye dost tera pyar is another example but als for KK there were few and very far apart.
    Someone mentioned that KK sang from the heart, that may be so but MR sang from the soul. He was not the FAVOURITE of ALL the musician for nothing. I could mention MR’s songs that are as great today as they were 60 odd years ago but I would only ask that we must know what we are talking about before we start making comparison especially between two very different charcters.
    I await your responses.


  8. Vinod says:

    hello everybody,

    I am sad to see some of the posts on this website. stop comparing these great singers. they were divine souls. the fact of the matter is each singer had their individual brilliance and greatness. as for kishore’s voice being hoarse, the person who has written it does not how to diffrentiate a voice. kishore was unparalled in voice modulation. plus he always added his own bit to a song to make it sound better. just listen to the song tum bin jaon kahan sung by rafi and kishore. the song sung by kishore is more popular. kishore was multi talented person. in the initial stages of his career he was more of actor singer. it was only after aradhana that he became a full fledged singer. Plus it was he who created super stars like rahesh khanna and amitabh. without his voice they would have been duds. tell me one song whic one can easily remember from a rajesh or amitabh film. stop comparing these great singers. they were the pillars of the film and music industry.

  9. A Singh says:

    >>He had completely dethroned rafi. Listen to the same song sung by both “tum bin jaaon kahan…”

    Because the Sad version of “Tum Bin Jaaon Kahan” sung by Rafi is unreleased but appears in the film. Possibly things could have been different if the sad version sung by rafi was also released.

    >>Asha & Rafi (Doosra Aadmi) where such a lovely song sung by KK &
    Asha is completely spoilt by rafi’s part in the end.

    Possibly you are refering to the song “Kya Mausam Hai”. First of all improve your knowledge. It is Lata not Asha. Secondly using Rafi was the end part which is totally different from the rest of the song is the music composers Rajesh Roshan choice. Why? Because the scale at which Rafi operated in that song, it was impossible for KK or any other singer to deliver.

  10. Vspi says:

    Monty & Binu, You guys get your facts right- Kishoreda was, is and wud remain the greatest singer this universe has ever or will ever create. When Kishoreda came on the scene in late 60s the industry was ruled by Rafi, Mukesh etc. and after that there was no stopping him. What with the gems that Kishoreda produced for S D Burman, Salil Chowdhry, Hemant Kumar, Pancham, Rakesh Roshan, Kalyanji Anandji, Bappi Lahiri etc.
    He had completely dethroned rafi. Listen to the same song sung by both “tum bin jaaon kahan…” and u’ll understand the diff or for that matter the song by Kishoreda, Asha & Rafi (Doosra Aadmi) where such a lovely song sung by KK & Asha is completely spoilt by rafi’s part in the end.
    Kishoreda apart from K L Saigal has been the only singer who’s died at his peak, the singer who wud command and get the highest price per song, He was the voice of the superstars (Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Randhir Kapoor, Dharmendra, Rishi Kapoor, Sanjeev Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Anil Kapoor et al) other singers wud’ve sung some of their songs, but their well known ones wud be only Kishoreda’s. Pancham the most loved, respected and remembered MD had majority of his songs sung by Kishoreda. Unlike others Kishoreda wud sing from his heart.

  11. binu nair says:

    Dear vinod

    Good one….u are right…. let mad fools see the light of the day and
    atleast dont compare singers…

    And what about Talat and Saighal ? great individuals and singers.
    hear them in a lonely room or at a hilly surrounding once and pls
    revert to me…

    binu nair binus2000@hotmail.com

  12. Vinod says:


    I don’t know if any one had approached kishore for singing qawwalis or ghazals. but why are we fighting for these great singers, when they never fought in their lifetime. in fact kishore had requested rafi to play back for him in some movies. when they had not egos why are we having one. they were both incredible singers with unforgetable numbers left behind. frankly I like both of them. and add mukesh,hemant kumar, and manna dey as well to that list.

  13. Shoeb says:


    Will you be able to add ghazals and qawwalis to this list to explain Kishore’s versatality and range? I don’t think so. So the argument is far from settled.

  14. Vinod says:

    i am not comparing any singers of the past. as for the present lot less said the better. Whether it is rafi or kishoreda, both have their own charm. As kishoreda is concerned, the versatility of the genius is unparalled. This is the truth. whether anyone likes it or not. Just listen to range of songs available. Be it emotional,comic,romantic,fun or any genre. The greatest aspect of all this is kishoreda was not a trained classical singer. And still this genius sang some of the most difficult ragas with complete ease. A fact that has been acknowledged by the great manna dey himself. Hope that settles the argument.

  15. Monty says:

    Rafiji’s voice is a pure gold, nothing can be changed.

  16. Sanjay says:

    hoarse is defintely not the right word to describe kishore kumar

  17. binu nair says:

    Bapan Jule 11 Post:
    Small children : age 5 years and below will believe your 1%
    story.. others will laugh.. and term you a real lunatic so do not
    repead this in an open forum…You may shout this in your bathroom
    it will not do you much harm…
    And know some facts about RAFI SAAB .. . he started singing
    from 1943 onwards up to 1980 that is 37 years…..
    your favourite singer of 99 percent was a comedian for the better
    part of this term….and he had a hoarse voice ….. hence had to
    wait for 27 years when Rafi saab shining like a meteor in the
    industry…. But your eyes are jaundiced and your views and
    ears prejudiced …. hence u will not accept these facts…..
    It is like playing a melodious tune before a buffaloe..
    binu nair

  18. myk says:


    Talking about Modern singers, IMO Rafi was the first modern singer then the rest followed. You mentioned the mid 60’s as the cut off line, before that just an example, S-J created waves of modern music and they changed the trend along with Rafi. After that (into the mid sixties), more modern music emerged and Rafi was again right there. After this the RD-KK partnership came in and that brought another change, and Rafi was right there as well.

    Its amazing that Rafi changed with the times for four plus decades, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s 70’s right into the 80’s, now that for me is MODERN.

  19. akmal jhangvi says:

    dear bapan
    you are absolutely right.
    get out rafi from history and india will fall down in seconds.
    if u excell kishore, no damage will be done.
    in paksitan, there is only rafi and lata are best sellers according to votings.
    there is no comparison with kishore and rafi.
    rafi was father and others are baby

  20. Bapan says:

    Rafi is not even 1% of Kishore Kumar.Kishoreda is better than Rafi in each and every department.Kishoreda was the no 1 singer from 1969 to 1987,also he is the greatest comic hero,genius of all times.

  21. binu nair says:


    Many facts taken together make up the t r u t h………

    Mohd Rafi SAHEB leads all the way in – any genre of songs from
    1946 on wards.. up to 1980…… Pl. check the all the facts .. . I am
    talking of playback singing…

    And censorship will not work here as you have suggested… above…

    Please win the debate by points…. and not by vague single point
    lines or words….

    Look forward to a healthy debate ….

    binus 2000

  22. Arindom says:

    Just going through the comparison… It is totally unfair.. They are two legends of two different gharans..Neither you can Ignore KK & nor Rafi.. & Surprise to see that nobody has ever soughting for the lyricist these two Maestro had at those time.. it is still remembered & without these unforgettable Lyrics Probably these two could not be there where they are today even long after their journeyto the eternal world..

  23. Bapan says:

    Kishoreda is the greatest singer.The most funny thing is that,whenever I write that Kishoreda is the greatest in http://www.mohdrafi.com ,they don’t have the guts to publish the truth.But the administrator here is much lenient.They must be careful and should delete the posts of brats like unknown 1 and Hussein Shekh.

  24. Manish Kumar says:

    Yet of course, just because I like Rafi more than KK, doesn’t mean I’d want to lose KK. I do love KK! Same with Asha Bhosle. Some of her duets with Rafi were inimitable.

  25. Manish Kumar says:

    “and then the list goes on…” I disagree. When I say that a modern singer today could be in the same league (but not as good) as past greats, I refer ONLY to Udit Narayan or Alka Yagnik. These two have been in the business since 1979 and have proven themselves time and time after again. As soon as you mention anyone else e.g. Abhijeet (love his personality and some songs but he is not as great as Udit or Alka Yagnik) then my statement even by me becomes rubbish.

    I do believe that Udit Narayan or Alka Yagnik can take an ordinary rendition and make it great with amazing voice and sheer magic. I loved Udit Narayan’s “Mai Yaha Hoon” from Veer Zaara or Alka Yagnik’s “Tu Shayar Hai” from Saajan. These guys aren’t as great as Rafi or Lata (who are like suns in just sheer output and dominance of career) but they are great nevertheless.

    India is very lucky to have a long rich tradition of amazing vocalists and I try to appreciate what we have. If I ever liked Mohd Rafi, it was never because of his legendary status but more because his voice was so amazing (among other things). It is inappropriate to compare or put a price on a legend because his niche is irreplaceable and thus you can’t put a price on it (no one could have replaced Mukesh but IMO he wasn’t a versatile singer).

    Yes, Asha Bhosle was a great singer highly trained, very versatile, legend. How many female singers had the guts to do a mirror qawali with Rafi in HKKN or do Kishore’s yodel in Sharabi? However, her intrinsic voice is not one of my favorites. That’s very important, however subjective it may be. I like Alka Yagnik’s voice better and feel that if Alka Yagnik had been around in the times of Asha’s MDs, she would have fared better too. That’s just me.

  26. Messi says:

    Yes Manish,

    Udit is one of the bests in current generation. I like Kay Kay, Kailash
    Kher, Abhijeet and then the list goes on. But now a days songs are first
    then the singers. They don’t have capabilities to make a good song a
    great song but old singers had.

  27. Messi says:

    Hehehe !!! it seems unknow1 prefers sonu over kishore. whatta choice.
    I can accept someone prefers rafi over kishore or mukesh over rafi
    but sonu over kishore ?

    whatta choice !!!

  28. binu nair says:

    Anuj : Pl. dont use works like cowdunge to writers here; it shows
    your class and your lack of arguments…..
    Please prove by statistics without losing your cool…..

  29. Rajesh says:

    Kishore Kumar is GOD,there is no doubt in it.I am his blind fan,like millions of others.He was,is and will remain the greatest singer,entertainer,live performer and comic hero of all times.

  30. Manish Kumar says:

    One thing more I wanted to say is that the “modern” era is now dying, we’re really hitting the “western era” where we just copy the inferior music of America (mind you, I was born and raised in USA but my origins are from Banaras) and have random, trashy MTV music videos incoherently in the middle of a movie (was there ever a song in Sholay that didn’t fit with the story?).

    The modern ERA is over and it is a threat to KK amongst the next generation. Of course his everlasting voice will remain for over a 100 years, but it will not always get the same due appreciation it deserves.

    The last great modern singer was Udit Narayan (remember his career started 29 years ago). The modern era in my terms was from 1965-200?. That’s a long period. I’ll miss it. I hate today’s songs like “Dus Bahane.”

  31. Manish Kumar says:

    You guys lured me into making comparisons here when it shouldn’t be here. I’m at fault but only partially. Any way, I’ll stop comparisons now and try to remember.

    I think you’re right to say that KK is more popular among the youth. IMO, the mid mid 60s was a border between classics versus “modern songs”. “Modern” songs did not require TRADITIONAL background in classical music and this is the era that KK hit the waves.

    KK is still popular today because he was the first modern singer. I’m more familiar with 1980 Rafi than peak Rafi because 1980 Rafi like KK had become modern (he was so versatile). Additionally, the compositions of RDB were excellent and modern. Finally, KK was THE VOICE for a superstar still ACTIVELY KNOWN today by fans – Amitabh Bachchan. People still remember Bachchan and so immediately they must remember KK. Its’ funny that in so many Amitabh Bachchan movies the song itself gets at least a third of the trailer – some movies KK made famous, not AB. The two needed each other.

  32. unknow1 says:

    Dear Anuj,
    I don’t know which shop u r speaking about,I think u can get more Sonu cassettes than KK.Lata Ji got Bharat Ratna award and Mohd Rafi God award.(how)why u kk fan don’t want to KK has Bharat Ranta award!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Lata ji was a good singer where is she now?because that she had award from human but Mohd Rafi got award from the God because when u went from this world he was at top that is the God award to Mohd Rafi

  33. Monty says:

    Unbelievable that Kishore Kumar was greatest than Rafiji, Lataji and/or Ashaji, doesn’t exist at all.

  34. binu nair says:


    Dear : Please wake up… U r in your dreammmmm..s

    mohd rafi and lata are the best in the business; KK is a
    late comer in to big time singing; and rafi – lata will rule
    music hearts till the last day long since we are all gone…

    binu nair

  35. Anuj says:

    Rafi,Lata,Asha were good singers,but Kishore Kumar is the greatest.You can check in any music shop,you will see Kishore’s cds and cassettes sell much much more that all Rafis and Latas collectively.A huge majority has accepted that Kishore Kumar is the best,Rafi’s and Lata’s popularity is in decline,while Kishoreji’s popularity remians intact and will remain intact forever.

  36. Manish Kumar says:

    I disagree with the opening of the article. KK is MUCH MUCH MORE famous as singer than as actor. Also, KK >>> Asha. KK’s version of O Saathi Re, Zindagi Ek Safar, etc. Lata ~ Rafi > KK >>> Asha

  37. A Singh says:

    Another master piece from LP for KK is the song from ‘Mr India’, ‘Zindagi Ki Yahi Reet Hai Haar Ke Baad Hee Jeet Hai’. The song was released just a months before his death, conveying a message to world the one should be disheartened in life due to failures because there is always success to follow after that. So one should always keep trying never give up in life.

  38. binu nair says:

    Dear Anuj…

    Above is your personal view which we do not agree to…

    Rafi & Lata will remain the “biggest and greatest singers”
    of the hindi playback scene… A huge majority accepts this..

    And, then comes Asha & Kishore……..

    Kishore Kumar we love as an actor, comedian, SINGER &
    some times putting in a few good lyrics and tunes…

    In short Jack of all trades….. and a very gifted and rare singer,
    I bet.

    binu nair….

  39. Anuj says:

    Undoubtedly Kishore Kumar is the all time greatest singer.

  40. Anuj says:

    Movies acted by Kishoreji were all time hits,you cowdunge Monty.Kishoreji is much much greater than Rafi,Lata,Asha.People of all generations like one singer only,that’s Kishoreji.Kishore Kumar’s populaity is so high,that no one can reach it or have reached it ever.Administrator,remove the above comment.

  41. Tim says:

    I love Kishore Kumar’s movies and like to listen to his songs. I like the films where Mohammed Rafi has sung and love to listen to his songs. Well, I would like to love Kishore Kumar’s songs. However, like others, I do not liken one to another, just like to listen to what I love and what I like. No one of their likes will ever be born. Hope you will like this.

  42. Monty says:

    This is not true, KK can’t be greater than Rafiji, Lataji or Ashaji. Agree, KK was a good singer, but not the best. Further more, movies he acted were boring and storyless.

  43. Anuj says:

    Kishoreda is the all time greatest-much much greater than Rafi,Lata,Asha and all.His popularity is phenomenon.His directed films were too good.

  44. unknow1 says:

    A singh I gree with u that LP gave master piece to KK and they gave to Mukesh,Lata and many other and best was with Mohd Rafi as I think…..

  45. Ramesh says:

    A true genius and an allrounder as a film maker.
    For varitey of reasons he was always under estimated-appreciated.

  46. Messi says:

    Nice Article. One info, I think Kishore Saheb came to bombay at 18 and not 19.
    Am I right ?

    Yeah Monty, you are right. Both Rafi and Kishore were legends of Indian Cinema.

  47. A Singh says:

    Kishore Kumar is a perfect Leo, who are born fighters. Despite all the ups and downs KK excelled in all fields. The song “Ruk Jaana Nahi Tu Kabhi Haar Ke” portrays KK’s own struggle the best. LP give KK a master piece, which is remembered till date.

  48. Monty says:

    KK was a legend, but Rafiji was a legends legend.

  49. Anuj says:

    Kishore Kumar-the greatest of all.

  50. Bandita says:

    Kishore Kumar was a great film director.His film Door Gagan ki chaon mein did great business,was a super hit and it also won few awards,including an international one.

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