Musical Journey of Kishore Kumar, The Filmfare Favourite 

Here’s a compilation of Kishore da’s best hits.

3 min read
Celebrating Kishore Kumar’s Filmfare wins on his birth anniversary. (Photo courtesy: Bollywood Art Project; altered by<b> The Quint</b>)

Kishore Kumar’s musical journey started way before his Filmfare accolades trickled in and frankly, it simply surpassed them all. Although the awards came into being in 1954, the category of Best Playback Singer was introduced only in 1959. In fact, till 1967, both male and female playbacks competed in the same category. Kishore da’s first win came in 1970 with Roop Tera Mastana from the Rajesh Khanna-Sharmila Tagore starrer superhit, Aradhana (1969).

It All Began With Roop Tera Mastana From Aradhana (1969)


Kishore Kumar, Bollywood’s one and only all rounder, was a powerhouse of talent. Though it took him many years to realise his true calling as a playback singer, he made his mark in the industry on his own terms.

Remembering Kishore Kumar, the Filmfare favourite. (Photo: Twitter; altered by The Quint)
Remembering Kishore Kumar, the Filmfare favourite. (Photo: Twitter; altered by The Quint)

Dil Aisa Kisi Ne Mera Toda, Amanush (1976)

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Bollywood’s true all-rounder didn’t quite find his calling until fairly late in his career. Kishore Kumar never wanted to be an actor, but started out as one on the insistence of his elder brother Ashok Kumar. It was destiny really, because they’re no other way to explain his success as a singer.

Not only did Kishore Kumar not have any formal training in music, he also lacked the tonality a singer must have, as a child. Legend has it that Abhas Kumar Ganguly had a rather rough voice in his younger days. But as luck would have it, he happened to injure a finger and cried for days, as a result of which his vocal chords opened up.

Khaike Paan Banaraswala, Don (1979)

Story goes that this song was never meant for Don. It was in fact written for Banarasi Babu, a Dev Anand film. But the Amitabh Bachchan thriller was considered to be so gripping for its time that the film’s makers had to add a song to balance out the action. So the song was shot after the entire film had been canned to allow the audience a ‘toilet break’, as per actor Manoj Kumar’s recommendation.

As for its recording Kishore Kumar actually chewed paan and spat it on a plastic sheet to give the song a natural feel.


Hazar Rahein, Thodisi Bewafai (1981)

The 28th Filmfare awards celebrated the genius of Gulzar and Kishore Kumar with the haunting melody of Hazar Rahein Mud Ke Dekheen from the Rajesh Khanna-Shabana Azmi starrer Thodi Si Bewafai (1980). It was a big deal for this dark beauty to win alongside Hrishikesh Mukerjee’s upbeat comedy Khoobsurat, the new-age glam of Laxmikant Pyarelal’s music for Karz and Nazia Hasan’s seductive vocals winning the ‘Best Playback Singer Female’ award for Aap Jaisa Koi from Qurbani.

Ke Pag Ghunghroo Bandh Meera Nachi Thi, Namak Halal (1983)

There are many songs that bring out the eccentricities of Kishore Kumar, but this semi-classical number won him a Filmfare award too.


Agar Tum Na Hote (1984)

This soulful Kishore Kumar number had a bit of RD Burman’s trickery in it. The same melody was used in Humein Raston Ki Zaroorat Nahin Hai from Naram Garam (1981). Needless to say, Kishore da brought it to life and made it eternal.

Manzilein Apni Jagah Hain, Sharaabi (1985)

Kishore Kumar started out as a chorus singer in Bombay Talkies and sang his first as the lead for Ziddi in 1948. He copied KL Saigal’s nasal touch which didn’t get him many admirers as a singer, but it did bring along some comic role offers as an actor. This song fits the real life situation that Kishore da must’ve struggled with back then- Manzilein apni jagah hain, raaste apni jagah. After all, he always wanted to be a singer, but never an actor.


Sagar Kinare Dil Ye Pukare, Saagar (1986)

Kishore da’s Filmfare wins barely outline his genius. In fact it’s almost impossible to find a music lover who isn’t a fan of his versatile vocals. There’s no dearth of jukeboxes when it comes to the genre that is Kishore Kumar, but for now, sing along with his most celebrated numbers.

Humein aur jeene ki chahat na hoti,
Agar tum na hote, agar tum na hote
...Kishore da!

(This story is from The Quint’s archives and was first published on 4 August, 2015. It’s being republished for Kishore Kumar fans on the iconic singer’s birth anniversary.)

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