An Interesting Tale Of Two Legends – Salil da and Kishore da

by Arghya Dutta They were both considered to be the most talented and genius musicians India has ever produced… One born in 1923 and the other in 1929… One in Bengal and the other in Madhya Pradesh.. One was involved with peoples’ movement right from his college days whereas the other was more or less […]

by Arghya Dutta

They were both considered to be the most talented and genius musicians India has ever produced… One born in 1923 and the other in 1929… One in Bengal and the other in Madhya Pradesh.. One was involved with peoples’ movement right from his college days whereas the other was more or less immersed in the songs of K L Saigal in his youth… One was considered a cultural icon in Bengal and a strong vocal supporter of a particular political ideology in Bengal whereas the other was not even matured enough to understand politics… One was wholeheartedly into the IPTA movement, whereas the other hardly thought of anything than to meet his own idol K L Saigal in Bombay…

The former started his career as a poet and musician, particularly writing and composing mass-movement songs, the other started his “not-so-successful” career as a playback singer almost around the same time later on to become “more successful” as an actor for quite some time.. The former was Salil Chowdhury and the latter was Kishore Kumar…

One commonality they shared, their love and passion for music!! Which was, for both of them, a natural heritage and not an imposed one!!

They met for the first time in 1954, at the recording studio of Naukri-Bimal Roy venture-where Kishore was the hero and Salil was the music director… Salil never knew of Kishore and out of inquisitiveness, wanted to find how “capable” he was to carry out a song to be picturized on him only… Kishore could not impress him much.. which ultimately made Salil almost decide to go for Hemant Kumar to record the song.. Somehow, the interference of Ashok Kumar and Bimal Roy saved the day for Kishore, as he got ultimately the chance to sing the classic “Chhotasa ghar hoga” and two more numbers for salil, definitely with the latter’s reluctance

The start was not very enthusiasing… And perhaps, Salil, in his slow and steady progress in Bollywood, somehow forgot about that tall and lanky youth in the course, who had given out his best for Salil… But that commonality, the natural and god-gifted passion for music, was timed to meet again…

Salil did come to Kishore- only to hand over some stray numbers in between in Awaaz, Parivaar and Musafir…The “Parivar” number “Kuvein mein kood ke mar jana” is still considered to be one of Kishore’s comic best! Kishore, also, by that time realizing that the industry was really not taking him seriously as a singer, focussed more on his acting( as a comic hero!!).. Well, much to his surprise, Kishore found a big fan following for his kind of acting also!! And by 1958, he was the most sought-after star after Dilip-Raj-Dev!


[Salil da on Kishore – Half Ticket]

They again met..this time in 1962… as this was a movie again with Kishore in lead role, really don’t know what was going in Salil’s mind this time, but now he was ready with 4-5 comic songs for him, which was perhaps were not so great in quality but definitely very entertaining… Kishore left no stone unturned.. He sang in a child’s voice, his own voice, even both in male and female voice and did get some pat on back from Salil for that “aake seedhi lagi deil pe”, but really did not find his career both as a singer or as an actor getting any better…

The following years so a dip in both of their careers.. Kishore, troubled with the health of Madhubala and his ever-sliding acting career, went into an abysmal depth where he almost decided to retire in 1968.. Salil’s big patronage in the form of Bimal Roy was gone with the latter’s untimely demise, big projects were really not coming to him.. add to that his artistic difference with Mohd. Rafi, he was doing music without the most sought-after male voice in the industry, and his gems were also not getting noticed by their glitters~~


1970 – The year was good for both of them.. Kishore, after a long drought, got a big and ultimate hit in the form of Aradhana with which he was able to drive away everyone else from the top spot and acquire that most coveted place for him.. Salil, also, after quite some time, got a big place to showcase his talent in the form of “Anand” with superstar Rajesh Khanna… And Kishore, by that time, had already become the vice of RK!! But, the pair could still be not coupled!! Following a dispute with the movies director Hrishikesh Mukherjee( who originally comsidered Kishore as the lead role in Anand), Kishore went out of the project… That did not really bother Salil that much, I suppose, as his favourites Mukesh and Manna De delivered the goods for him.. But in 1971, that much awaited coupling happened… This time in a small budget movie of Gulzar called “Mere apne”.. By that time, Kishore had become so evident in the playback singing market, perhaps, Salil also did not want to stay out of it…. And they together created magic in the form of ” Koi Hota Jisko Apna”… Salil told after this song that it was the first time in 17 years that he realized how much potential Kishore had in his voice.. Well, that “natural sponteinity” to music of both of them were destined to meet, ain’t they??

And they went on… 1972 saw “Anokha Daan” with two typical Salil compositions of Kishore- “Humrahi manzil ke” and “Ati ghir ghir sawan ke”… 1972 also saw “Annadata”, considered to be the best of Salil in 70s, where, apart from Lata’s “Raat ke Saye Ghane” and “Nisidin Nisidin” and Mukesh’s “Nain hamare saanj sakare”, Kishore delivered two most difficult chord progression and complex note changing numbers in the form of “Champavati” and “Guzar Jaye Din”… well, the latter did take KK also 5 takes, but at least, he could do it, which according to Salil “could not have been done by anyone else”…

But, there were differences… Kishore, known for his eccentricities, were not available many times Salil called him..

While making “Anand Mahal”, Salil called Kishore, to which Kishore could not respond… So, Salil put him out of “Chhoti si Baat” project… Kishore went to show his dissapointment, to which Salil gave him the project of Jeevan Jyoti in 1976… A brilliant rendering of “Maujon ki doli”( a remake of Salil’s 1963 composition for Lata- Keno kichhu katha) just proved their distinct similarity of music which bound them again and again.. One was always ready to come up with sinoseudal changes in notes and the other responding to them with equal flair…

They again created beautiful melodies called “Mil gayi achanak mujhe har khushi” in 1978 in Agni Pareeksha and “Shono Shono Go shobe” in Kavita in 1979.. But the gap was widening… Kishore, was now the most expensive and most demanded singer, whereas Salil was still there, still enchanting thousands of people with his complex chord progressions and peculiar notes, but somehow, more constraint to low-budget affairs…


As a tribute to their creativity, the last magic they created called “Mone Pore Shei Sab Din”( Man Kare Yaad Woh din in Hindi) still takes us to the immortal memory of both these legends, who were like sorcereors’ stones, all the 30 times they came together, they stroke 24 carate GOLD!

“Baharon ki doli leke kitna bhi chahe yeh mausam saje…
Tere bin basant bhi patjhar lage….”

(picture courtesies: Derek Bose’s and Vishwas Nerurkar’s books on Kishore Kumar)

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35 Blog Comments to “An Interesting Tale Of Two Legends – Salil da and Kishore da”

  1. S Kundu, Kolkata says:

    Grateful to you for such a valuable article. I was really looking for this. It was very unfortunate that these two greats did not produce more gems. It is very surprising that a person like Salil could not spot the talent in KK earlier which SD could. He used to make opportunities to get KK sing for him. Anyway, whatever these two greats have left, take us to another world.

    Thanks very much and request, pl. keep posting such articles.

  2. Bikash Paul says:

    Salil Chowdhury and Kishor Kumar both highly regarded Anil Biswas

  3. pravin R.Gosavi says:

    k.k. is golden voice singer

  4. Avinash says:

    Thanks for posting such an informative article . I feel nostalgic, thanks for taking us down memory lane…regards,

  5. Dear Arghya,

    Very interesting read.

    For the past 40 years I have been a great fan of Kishore Kumar who is probably the most talented singer the world has ever produced. Its unfortunate that international recognition to him is not as much as he deserves. If only Hindi was as well known as English the world over, he could have easily outshadowed Elvis Presley, Beatles and Michael Jackson.

    I also sing professionally and many of his numbers and have a huge collection of his songs–and have also diarised many of them alphabetically. Apart from that I love Neil Diamond and Engelbert songs.
    Nice knowing you.
    Warm regards,

    satish sharma

  6. Arghya says:

    Respected Shikhaji,

    Take warm regards from this little music lover.. Both in terms of age as well as knowledge, I am nowhere close to you and I take your compliments as a token to keep my energy to go on. I fel proud to get wishes from a family member of a legendary composer towards my endeavours.

    You are right about the reactions Rafians give to Anilji.. I, myself was an evidence in all those happenings, when me(a Rafi admirer as well as a Kishore fan), was there in, around a year back.. In fact, Mr. Binu Nair and a Sandeep Nadkarni’s comments on Anil babu and Salilda were the biggest reasons for me to step down from that forum and greatly abominate those people who term themselves as music lovers and I still stand by that decision of me..

    You are so true about “Fareb”(1953).. Anil babu could have easily handed over some hummable numbers to Guru-who was hardly 24 year old then- and make an allbum. In stead, he gave him a “Husn bhi hai udaas udaas” and gave him 48 hours of time to perfetionize that! Gave him one of the best duets with Lataji of all time(yes, considering very well the duets the Burmans composed for them)- “Aa mohabbat ki basti basayenge hum”.. Just a question to you, I see in that song, both the antaras for Lata and Kishore been composed in different ways by Anilda.. Any particular reason for that? or just it fell in lin with the overall composition? And, finally, “Mere sukh dukh ka sansa”- I mut say, Anil babu, Khemchand Prakashji and Ramchandra Chitalkar- as the three earliest recognizer of Guru.s potential alongwith Dada Burman…

    We had a brief disussion yesterday, if you remember.. It would be a big pleasure from this small music lover, if we can continue sharing each others views.

    Hearty welcome to this forum and again a heartful of thanks for this privileage..


  7. Dear Arghya,
    Just had occasion to read yr article in the process of discovering myself pleasantly on the Internet. Didn’t know how and why and when I was featured there and was curious to know whom I had ‘met in Delhi.’
    Well to answer yr question, I run a society in memory of my father Anilda and we just celebrate old music vide stage shows highlighting songs thematically. I am happy to say that thanx to us now film music is becoming immensely popular and much heard and frequently staged in the capital, the official keeper of the classical forms.
    Happily, my father it was who had immense faith in Kishoreda’s ability to render serious songs when many considered him to be a comic and non-serious singer. The songs he gave him to sing in Fareb are a testimony to that faith. Do write something about this if you can. We used to be neighbours in Juhu, by the way.
    Much has been writen about my father’s ‘antipathy’ to Mohd. Rafi which was overplayed in the media many years ago. However, baba utilised individual talent where he thought it appropriate and without prejudice. Most of the maestros of that time did too. The above incident is an instance in context. So it really is infuriating whn some fans blindly rave about the singers and criticise MDs. believe me, they knew what they were doing.

  8. Raja Adhya says:

    My Faourites Are – Koi Hota Jisko Aapna(MERE AAPNE),Mann Kare Yaad Woh Din(AKHRI BADLA)..Though Love All Songs Of This Combo.

  9. Debasis Dutta says:

    Dear Mr Arghya,

    It is indeed a great piece of information about these two great musicians (a singer and a composer). Pl provide similar information about RD-KK combo, if you have.

  10. arghya says:

    There is an unreleased Salil-Kishore song from the unreleased movie Zindagi Ek Jua.. The song is “Zindagi jua hai jeet haar kar ke jee le”..

    I have uploaded this rare gem here:

    Do listen.. It is a delight for all the fans of these two musical genius..

  11. Chirantan Brahmachari says:

    In my small capacity I am a singer by hobby.Kishor da has given,besides Rafi saab,Mukeshji and all others,me the immense pleasure in singing different songs while in different moods.KOI HOTA ,JISKO my all time favorite.Mere mehboob qayaamat hogi,aaj ruswa teri galiyon mein
    mohabbat superbly rendered with the utmost feelings by him.And just look at RIMZIM GIRE SAWAN,SULAG SULAG JAAYE MAN…!
    Lastly,this article comparing and showing their(with Salil da)association is very interesting.

    God manifests itself through such performers and gives us fuel to move on with the life with zeal!

    May God bless HIMSELF/HERSELF !

  12. Ajay says:


    It’s a good article….Keep it up…We wanated to highlight more about KK with other music directors..specially from you.

    Chhota Sa Ghar Hoga Badalon Ki Chhaon Main …Is my personal favorite song of KK-SC..

  13. arghya says:


    The song is “Jeena to hai par ae dil kahan”- as correctly mentioned by you.. Also, the MD is also Rahul Dev Burman.. The movie to which the song belongs is Daulat Ke Dushman(1981)..The first two line of the song has a typical resemblance with “Chand Mera Dil” whcih Pancham used a few years earlier in Hum Kisise Kam Nahi(1977), only the “meter” or the “pace” of the tune changed.. Listen both the songs carefully, you would find a great manifestation of a tune by another genius- R D Burman..

  14. prosenjit says:

    Hi Yogendra,

    The opening lines are

    “jeena to ha..per aae dil kahan” . I think this was composed by Panchamda

  15. KKKLAN says:

    KK is the best singer.

  16. Yogendra Khokhar says:

    I have considered myself one of the greatest fans of Kishore da but here i found that i have to know more about the great man and his songs. The Rabinder sangit,in particular is amazing and kishore’s voice makes it so special.My personal favourite since childhood is “chingari koi bhadke”. I think this is the best ever film song.Any way,can anybody tell me the opening lines and film name for a song having line as “naaraz koi na koi meharban…………,are baithun to nahi milti hai zamin main udna chahun hai door asman”.

  17. Partha S. Bhattacharya says:

    Dear Arghya ,
    After going through the articles written by you , I must say tht you have the knowledge and depth about a man named Kishore Kumar . The name is just a Power House which generated the most top rated songs as ever . Till date we have not got any replica of our beloved Kishore Da , and we will never get also . We are in a close community and trying to take the community Called ” FANS OF KISHORE KUMAR GANGULY ” as far as possible . The full credit goes to you and I must say that , you are doing an excellent job . We , the “Fans Of Kishore Kumar Ganguly” will be with you always . Thanks a lot for such a nice article .


    Partha Da

  18. arghya says:

    Helllo Singh saab..

    Thank you so much sir for your compliments.. As for Salilda, there was a uniform distribution of his numbers among male singers always and there was never a clear cut preference among male voice for him.. Mukesh sang 26 songs for Salilda, a few less than Kishore.. Maximum songs went to Manna De(62, including hindi and bengali and some malyalam also, i suppose).. Manna sang 62, Hemant sang around 40(mainly bengali, around 20 of them), Kishore 30, Mukesh 26, Rafi 20 and later Yesu sang around 20 songs for Salil..

  19. A Singh says:

    Hello Arhgya Ji,

    Very well written artcile. Going through the article what I could conclude is slight mismatch of compatibility between KK and Salil da. Other wise we could expect more gems from KK-Salil combo. I believe similar is the case between Rafi and Salil, hence we don’t see many songs from this combo as well.

    Perhaps Salil Da has used Lata and Mukesh maximum in his compositions. In the 50s and 60s Salil has used Talat also equally well.

  20. Debjyoti says:

    Kishoreda-Salilda combo is indeed one of the most versatile pair of all times in terms of quality of songs.In the film Aawaz,Kishoreda sang the song arra ram where he produced the voice of donkey.Kishoreda is the only singer who could produce voices of many other animals and many other pecuiliar sounds also,apart from his trademark world famous yoodling.I remember a famous bengali song of this pair from film Kabita where also Kishoreda had done the voices of many animals.That was an extremely tough song called suno suno go sobe.The combo worked for the first time in the film Naukri(Kishoreda was the hero)where guru sang 3 brilliant songs.Half Ticket is one of my fav films,Kishoreda entertained us brilliantly there and sang some great rhythmic songs for Salilda,including the historical aake sidhi where he sang in both voices because Lataji was not present to sing the female part.In Parivaar he sang kuven pe kudke which no other singer could have sung.In Musafir Kishoreda sang munna bada pyara for Salilda.In mere apne he sang one of the greatest songs of all times,the semi classical koi hota.Even Salilda was very impressed.The Kishore Kumar solo and duet in anokha dhan created ripples in the sea of music.And who can forget gujar jaye din from Annadat,an extremely togh and hit song.The song maujon ki doli from Jeevan Jyoti is also one of my fav songs.The song ranjhe ki ankhon is also a soothing number.Then came agniparikha and finally ankhri badla,where he sang the everlasting melody man kare yaad and a duet with Lataji,o mere sathi re.The bengali version of these 2 songs were eually hit songs.Both these 2 legends had given some of the greatest melodies working together.

  21. Asif Ali (PAK/RWP - 03005284510) says:

    cheel-cheel Chillaa Ke Kajri Sunaaye
    jhoom-jhoom Kauvaa Bhi Dholak Bajaaye arrey, Vaah Vaah Vaah

    Was great composition also sung by tremendusly by Abhas Kumar(Kishore Kumar).

    aaake sidhee lagee dil pe jaise katariya, o sanwariya oye hoye
    o teree tirchhee najariya aa
    le gayee meraa dil teree julmee najariya, o gujariya oye hoye hoye
    o jane saree nagariya

    Also a great job done by both legendery masters.

  22. arghya says:


    Thanks dear for the compliments,,

    Regarding singing, Kishore came to Bombay to become a “playback singer” only and started his career in 1946 as a playback singer only,, Initially, he was a chorus singer under the troop of Saraswati Devi- a renowned music director of that era,, Then SD Burman and Khemchnad Prakashji saw his talent and started giving singing assignments to him,, Khemchandji’s untimely death in 1950 was a major setback, in my opinion, to Kishore’s playback career,, Anyways, when he saw there were very few takers for his “open throated” and “sponatenous” singing in that era, under his brother ashok kumar’s insistence, he started trying his luck in acting,,

    And surprisingly, he got more appreciation in acting than singing!! so, he wholeheartedly switched over to acting until 1969, when the Burmans proved to the world again, what a great and versatile singer Kishore was!!

    That, in a very very brief nutshell, different transitions of Kishore’s career from singer to actor to again a singer!!

  23. SAYAN SARKAR says:


  24. arghya says:

    And “Chhoti Si Baat” was indeed a great piece of work from Salilda,, In fact, all his works have fascinated me always,, Even his last movies like “Jeena Yahan” had superb motivational songs like “Hum nahi dukh se ghabrayenge” which we used to sing in the school in chorus..

  25. arghya says:


    It was not the “dissapointment” on the compositions,,, Kishore felt Salil was not happy with him for not giving dates previously to “Anand Mahal”,, But that he kept within himself,, It is only his secretory who met Salil Chowdhury once expressed how Kishore had felt about the whole thing,, Salil was immediately ready to understand the “dissapointment” of Kishore in that sense and took him in his next project without fail,,

    “Dissapointment” was in that sense,, Sorry, if that word was ambigous in the article:))

    Thanks Manishji..

  26. Manish Kumar says:

    “So, Salil put him out of “Chhoti si Baat” project… Kishore went to show his dissapointment”

    Dear Arghya, can you please clarify that above line? Surely Kishore wasn’t disappointed with the compositions of Choti Si Baat, was he? That was an excellent by Salil Choudhury.

  27. arghya says:

    Hi Sid,,,

    Ya,, as far as “productivity” ratio is concerned, not only Kishore, Salil’s productivity with all the male singers are whoppingly high,, Looking at his association was never “over the board” for any male singer in terms of quantity, he did brilliant balancing act in terms of using singers,, Mukesh sang only 26 songs for Salilda, but they were all “creme-da-le-creme” for Mukeshji,, Same for Kishore, Salil “explored” new dimension in Kishore’s voice in temrs of his range, his low notes, his switching of notes with spontaneity,, As Salil said “Kishore’s range was so big, I never used to think before composing anything for Kishore”,,

    Composers like Salilda, Madan Mohan etc. always remained “underrated” in this commercial industry of Hindi Cinema,, But they rule in the hearts of all the music lovers!!!

  28. sid says:

    its great how kishore finally impressed salil. my mother listened to those songs and said she loved them. I like salil chowdhry’s music and sad that kk couldnt sing with him in anand due to the touchy hrishi da dont u think so?
    Fav song is o sajna from salil.. it could have been a better combo than rd kk who were sometimes inconsistent imho..

    well those r my thoughts 🙂

  29. arghya says:

    Hello Ashish sir,
    Thank you so much,, By the way, what is Mrs. Vohra doing nowadays??

    Anil Biswas was a class composer of his own!! I really admire his spirits as a music director- uncompromising, firm and uncommercialized,, He rather opted to step out of the industry than to dilute his music in the rat race..

    A true music lover very identical to the spirits of Shree Pankaj Kumar Mallick or his brother-in-law Shree Panna Lal Ghosh!!

  30. ashish kapoor says:

    dear arghya, good article.
    i wish people at this site would write more about kishore da rather than having comparisons. i met anil biswas’s daughter. she lives in delhi. her name is shikha biswas vohra. her tel no is 09811555570.
    ashish kapoor, 09810087414, 09212587414,

  31. arghya says:


    Thank you so much for your compliments,, Salilda indeed is one of my three most favourite composers,,

    This is a small tribute to both of them from a small fan like me,,



  32. Praveen Natarajan says:

    Great article!!!
    Salilda has always been one of my favourite composers… each of his compostions are complex creations that only a sheer genius can think of…
    Add to that, Kishoreda’s breathtaking voice and style!!!
    Isn’t that a lethal combination now?

  33. paramjeet says:

    Nice article..
    When we talk about Kishoreda, some genuine contributors to his career generally falls out of discussion, Salilda is one of them,Salilda, I think was the most underrated music director of that period, talentwise very high but backup and luck factors kam tha thoda.salilda ke bhakton ko bhi achha lagega itni achhi article padhke

  34. Sanjay Kumar Das says:

    Thanks Arghya Da!!!!! You have done a great job… I proud of You to feel as my friend and also as a Gurubhakt…. Thanks a lot… Carry on Dear……

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