Rare vintage photos of legendary Indian actor & singer Kishore Kumar
Abhas Kumar Ganguly, better known by his stage name Kishore Kumar was an Indian playback singer, actor, music director, lyricist, writer, director, producer and screenwriter.
Kishore Kumar Biography
Abhas Kumar Ganguly (born 4 August 1929 – 13 October 1987), better known by his stage name Kishore Kumar was an Indian playback singer, actor, music director, lyricist, writer, director, producer and screenwriter. He is considered as one of the most popular singers of Indian film industry and from soft numbers to peppy tracks to romantic moods, Kumar sang in different genres but some of his rare compositions which were considered classics were lost in time. According to Ashok Kumar, Kumar's success lies in the fact that his voice used to hit the microphone straight at its most sensitive point.
Apart from Hindi, he sang in many Indian languages including Bengali, Marathi, Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, Bhojpuri, Malayalam and Urdu. He has also sung in private albums in several languages especially in Bengali. He won 8 Filmfare Awards for Best Male Playback Singer and holds the record for winning the most Filmfare Awards in that category. He was awarded the "Lata Mangeshkar Award" by the Madhya Pradesh government in the year 1985–86. In the year 1997, the Madhya Pradesh Government initiated an award called the "Kishore Kumar Award" as a contribution to Hindi cinema. Recently, Kumar's unreleased last song was sold for Rs 1,560,000 (1.56 million) at the Osian's Cinefan Auction, New Delhi in 2012.
Kumar was born in a Bengali family in Khandwa, Central Provinces (now in Madhya Pradesh) as Abhas Kumar Ganguly. His father, Kunjalal Ganguly (Gangopadhyay) was a lawyer and his mother, Gouri Devi came from a wealthy Bengali family and was a home-maker. Kunjalal Gangopadhyaya was invited by the Kamavisadar Gokhale family of Khandwa to be their personal lawyer. Kishore was the youngest of four siblings, the older three being Ashok (the eldest), Sati Devi, and Anoop. While Kishore was still a child, his brother Ashok became a Bollywood actor. Later, Anoop also ventured into cinema with Ashok's help. He graduated from Christian College, Indore.
After Ashok Kumar became a star of Hindi films, the Ganguly family visited Bombay (now Mumbai) regularly. Abhas Kumar changed his name to 'Kishore Kumar' and started his cinema career as a chorus singer at Bombay Talkies, where his brother worked. Kumar's first film appearance was in Shikari (1946), in which his brother, Ashok played the lead role. Music director Khemchand Prakash gave Kumar a chance to sing "Marne Ki Duayen Kyon Mangu" for the film Ziddi (1948). After this, Kumar was offered many other assignments, but he was not very serious about a film career. In 1949, he settled in Bombay. Kumar played the lead in the Bombay Talkies film Andolan (1951), directed by Phani Majumdar. Although he got some acting assignments with the help of his brother, he was more interested in becoming a singer. But Ashok wanted Kumar to be an actor like him. Between 1946 and 1955, Kumar appeared in 22 films of which 16 were flops and since he was disinterested in taking up acting as a career, he would find ways to be in the bad books of the director or producer, so that they throw him from their films. It was only after the success of films such as Ladki, Naukari, Miss Malaysia, Char Paise and Baap Re Baap that Kumar developed interest in acting seriously, which resulted in him having successful films as the lead actor between 1955 and 1966.
In initial days of his career, Kumar was deeply inspired by singer K. L. Saigal and imitated his style of singing in some of his early films. He had a great respect for poet and musician Rabindranath Tagore who influenced him in many ways.
He was an ardent admirer of Hollywood actor-singer Danny Kaye. He hung the portraits of all these three personalities at his Gouri Kunj residence and would bow respectfully before them everyday as a rule. In his later career, Kumar was also heavily influenced by playback singer Ahmed Rushdi and his liking towards Rushdi was to the extent that he paid him a tribute at Royal Albert Hall London by singing Rushdi's some of the songs.
Kumar used yodeling in many of his songs including Tum bin jaaon kahan, Zindagi ek safar hai suhana, Chala jata hoon and had become the essential feature of his singing which was inspired by Jimmie Rodgers and Tex Morton.
Kumar starred in Bimal Roy's Naukari (1954) and Hrishikesh Mukherjee's directorial debut Musafir (1957). Salil Chowdhury, the music director for Naukari, was initially dismissive of Kumar as a singer when he found that Kumar had no formal training in music. However, after hearing his voice, Chowdhury gave him the song Chhota Sa Ghar Hoga, which was supposed to be sung by Hemant Kumar.
The commercially successful films of Kumar included Ladki (1953), Naukari (1954), Baap Re Baap (1955), Paisa Hi Paisa (1956), New Delhi (1956), Naya Andaz (1956), Bhagam Bhaag (1956), Bhai Bhai (1956), Aasha (1957), Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), Dilli Ka Thug (1958), Jaalsaaz (1959), Bombay Ka Chor (1962), Chacha Zindabad (1959), Man-Mauji (1962), Jhumroo (1961), Half Ticket (1962), Mr. X in Bombay (1964), Shreeman Funtoosh (1965), Ek Raaz (1963), Ganga Ki Lahren (1964), Hum Sab Ustaad Hai (1965), Haal E Dil, Pyar Kiye Jaa (1966) and Padosan (1968). As an actor, his best period was between 1954 and 1966. His onscreen pairing with actresses Mala Sinha, Vyjayanthimala, Nutan, Madhubala and Kumkum gave the biggest hits in his career.
Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), his home production, had the three Ganguly brothers and Madhubala in main roles. Kumar played a car mechanic who has a romance with a city girl; (Madhubala) with a subplot involving the brothers.
In the movie Half Ticket, for one of the songs – "Aake Seedhi Lagi Dil Pe" – the music director Salil Chowdhary had a duet in mind and wanted Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar to sing the song. However, since Lata Mangeshkar was not in town and Salil Chowdhury had to record that song before she could return, Kumar solved the problem by singing both the male and female parts of the song himself. The duet is actually for Pran and Kumar on the screen dressed as a woman. It just turned out to be fine as he did admirably well singing both in male and female voices.
Music director S. D. Burman is credited with spotting Kumar's talent for singing. During the making of Mashaal (1950), Burman visited Ashok's house, where he heard Kumar imitating K. L. Saigal. He complimented him and told him that he should develop a style of his own, instead of copying Saigal. Kumar eventually developed his own style of singing, which featured yodeling, which he had heard on the records of Tex Morton and Jimmie Rodgers. Burman kept making Kishore sing for Dev Anand from the 50s to the early 70s. S.D. Burman provided him the training and encouraged Kumar a lot, especially in the late 50s and early 60s, resulting in Kumar developing into a great singer in the future years.
S. D. Burman recorded Kumar's voice for Dev Anand's Munimji (1954), Taxi Driver (1954), House No. 44 (1955), Funtoosh (1956), Nau Do Gyarah (1957), Paying Guest (1957), Guide (1965), Jewel Thief (1967), Prem Pujari (1970), and Tere Mere Sapne (1971). He also composed music for Kumar's home production Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958). Some of their songs were; "Maana Janaab Ne Pukara Nahin" from Paying Guest, "Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke" from Nau Do Gyarah, "Ai Meri Topi Palat Ke Aa" from Funtoosh, and "Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi Si" and "Haal Kaisa Hai Janaab Ka" from Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi. Asha Bhosle and Kishore performed duets composed by Burman including "Chhod Do Aanchal" from Paying Guest, "Ankhon Mein Kya Ji" from Nau Do Gyarah, "Haal Kaisa Hai Janaab Ka" and "Paanch Rupaiya Baara Aana" from Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi and "Arre Yaar Meri Tum Bhi Ho Gajab" from Teen Deviyan (1965).
As a singer, Kumar's work as singer with many music directors in this period includes "Ye Raatein Ye Mausam" and "Hum Toh Mohabbat Karega" from Dilli Ka Thug, "Piya Piya Mora Jiya" from Baap Re Baap, "Hello Hello Ji" from Bombay Ka Chor, "Micheal Hai Toh Cycle Hai" from Bewaqoof, "Ae Haseeno Nazneeno" from Chacha Zindabad, "Zaroorat Hai Zaroorat Hai" from Manmauji (1961), "Likha Hai Teri Ankhon Mein" from Teen Deviaan, "Suno Jaana Suno Jaana", "Pyaar Baatke Chalo" and "Kya Teri Zulfein Hai" from Hum Sab Ustaad Hai, "Khoobsurat Haseena" from Mr. X in Bombay, "Gaata Rahe Mera Dil" from Guide (1965), "Sultana Sultana" from Shreeman Funtoosh, "Machalti Hui" from Ganga Ki Lahren, "Mera Dil Meri Jaan" and "Pyar Ka Jaahan Hotel" from Jaalsaaz and "Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechara" from Jewel Thief (1967).
Music director C. Ramchandra also recognized Kumar's talent as a singer. They collaborated on songs including "Eena Meena Deeka" from Aasha (1957). Kumar's work includes "Nakhrewaali" from New Delhi (1956) by Shankar Jaikishan, "C.A.T. Cat Maane Billi" and "Hum To Mohabbat Karega" from Dilli Ka Thug (1958) by Ravi, and "Chhedo Na Meri Zulfein" from Ganga Ki Lahren (1964) by Chitragupta.
Kumar acted in and composed the music for Jhumroo (1961), and wrote the lyrics for the film's title song, "Main Hoon Jhumroo". Later, he produced and directed Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein (1964). He also wrote the script and composed music for the film, which is about the relationship between a father (Kumar) and his deaf and mute son (played by his real-life son (Amit Kumar).
After 1966, as an actor, Kumar built up a notoriety for coming late for the shootings or bunking them altogether. His films flopped frequently after 1965 and he landed in income tax trouble.
In 1968, Rahul Dev Burman worked with Kumar on the soundtrack of the film Padosan (1968), in which Kumar sang "Mere Saamne Wali Khidki Mein" and "Kehna Hai." Padosan was a comedy featuring Kishore as a dramatist-musician, Mehmood as a Carnatic music and dance teacher, and Sunil Dutt as a simpleton named Bhola. Kishore's character was inspired by his uncle, Dhananjay Bannerjee, a classical singer. The highlight of the film was a musical, comical duel between Kumar, Sunil Dutt and Mehmood: "Ek Chatur Nar Karke Singaar."
In 1969, Shakti Samanta produced and directed Aradhana. He sang three songs in the film; "Mere Sapnon Ki Rani", "Kora Kagaj Tha Ye Man Mera" and "Roop Tera Mastana". Shakti Samanta suggested that Kumar sing the other songs too. When the film was released, Kumar's three songs established him as a leading Bollywood playback singer. Kumar won his first Filmfare award for "Roop Tera Mastana".
From the 1970s and throughout 1980s, Kumar sang for Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Jeetendra, Sanjeev Kumar, Dev Anand, Shashi Kapoor, Mithun Chakraborty, Vinod Khanna, Dilip Kumar, Shammi Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Rajiv Kapoor, Aditya Pancholi, Naseeruddin Shah, Sanjay Dutt, Sunny Deol, Anil Kapoor, Rakesh Roshan, Pran, Sachin, Vinod Mehra, Rajinikanth, Chunky Pandey, Kumar Gaurav, Sanjay Khan, Feroz Khan, Kunal Goswami, Govinda and Jackie Shroff.
Kumar sang the most songs in his career for Rajesh Khanna. Kumar sang 245 songs picturised on Rajesh Khanna across 92 films, which is an unbeaten record for singer-actor combination. Kishore sang 245 songs for Rajesh Khanna, 202 for Jeetendra, 119 for Dev Anand and 131 for Amitabh.
S. D. Burman and Kishore continued with music including "Phoolon Ke Rang Se" and "Shokhiyon Mein Ghola Jaaye" from Prem Pujari (1969), "Aaj Madhosh Hua Jaaye Re," "Khilte Hain Gul Yahan" and "O Meri Sharmilee" from Sharmilee (1971), "Meet Na Mila" from Abhimaan (1973), and "Jeevan Ki Bagiya Mehkegi" from Tere Mere Sapne (1974 film) (1974). In 1975, S. D. Burman composed his last song for Kishore, "Badi Sooni Sooni Hai" for the film Mili.
R.D. Burman recorded several songs with Kumar in the 1970s, including "O Maajhi Re" from Khushboo, "Yeh Shaam Mastaani" and "Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai" from Kati Patang (1971), "Raat Kali Ek Khwab Mein Aayi" from Buddha Mil Gaya (1971) and "Chingari Koi Bhadke", "Kuch To Log Kahenge (Amar Prem)", "Zindagi Ke Safar Me Guzar Jaate Hain Jo Makam" from Aap Ki Kasam ( 1974), "Aaaane Wala Pal" from Golmaal ( 1980), "Hume Aur Jeene Ki Chahat Na Hoti" from Agar Tume Na Hote ( 1983), "Raha Pe Rahete Hai" from Namkeen (1985) and "Jab Bhi Koi Kangana" from Shaukeen (1987). Although he was not formally trained in classical music, R.D. Burman often had Kumar sing semi-classical songs, such as "Humein Tum Se Pyaar Kitna" from Kudrat and "Mere Naina Saawan Bhadon" from Mehbooba.
R.D. Burman recorded several duets pairing Kishore with Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar, including "Panna Ki Tamanna" and "Bahut Door Mujhe" from Heera Panna (1973), "Neend Chura Ke Raaton Mein" from the film Shareef Budmaash, "Mujhko Mohabbat Mein Dhoka" and "Kisise Dosti Karlo" from Dil Deewana, "Dhal Gayi Rang" from Heeralal Pannalal, "Ek Main Hoon" from Darling Darling, "Rimjhim Gire Sawan" from Manzil, "Kya Yehi Pyaar Hai" and "Hum Tum Se Mile" from Sanjay Dutt's debut film Rocky (1981), "Jaan-e-Jaan Dhoondta" from Jawani Diwani, "Kahin Na Jaa" and "Kaho Kaise Rasta" from Bade Dilwala, "Sun Zara Shok Haseena" and "Kharishoo" from Harjaee (1982), "Waada Haanji Waada" from The Burning Train and "Kaisi Lagrahi Hoon Mein" from Jhuta Sach.
Apart from the Burmans, Kumar worked with other famous music directors too. The composer duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal (L-P) composed many songs sung by him, including "Mere Mehboob Qayamat Hogi" from Mr. X in Bombay, "Mere Naseeb Mein Aye Dost" from Do Raaste, "Yeh Jeevan Hai" from Piya Ka Ghar, "Mere Dil Mein Aaj Kya Hai" from Daag, "Nahi Mai Nahi Dekh Sakta" from Majboor, "Mere Diwanepan Ki Bhi" from Mehboob Ki Mehndi, "Naach Meri Bulbul" from Roti, "Chal Chal Chal Mere Haathi" from Haathi Mere Saathi and "Tu Kitne Baras Ki" from Karz. L-P also worked with Kishore and Mohammed Rafi on duets for the films Zakhmee, Dostana, Ram Balram and Deedaar-E-Yaar. L-P composed "I Love You (Kaate Nahin Katate Yeh Din Yeh Raat)" for Mr. India (1987), a duet with Kishore and Alisha Chinoy. Salil Chowdhury recorded songs SUCH AS "Koi Hota Jisko Apna" from Mere Apne and "Guzar Jaaye Din Din" from Annadata. Ravindra Jain recorded "Ghungroo Ki Tarah" and the duets "Le Jaayenge Le Jaayenge" from Chor Machaye Shor and "Tota Maina Ki Kahani" from Fakira. Shyamlal Mitra recorded a duet of Kishore with Asha – Sara Pyaar Tumhara for the film Anandshram.
Khayyam recorded many of Kishore's duets with Lata Mangeshkar, including "Hazaar Raahein" from Thodisi Bewafaii and Aankhon Mein Humne Aapke Sapne Sajaye Hain, Chandani Raat Mein Ek Bar. Hridaynath Mangeshkar recorded Zindagi Aa Raha Hoon Main from Mashaal. Kalyanji Anandji recorded several songs with Kishore including Zindagi Ka Safar and Jeevan Se Bhari Teri Aankhein, from Safar, O Saathi Re from Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, "Pal Pal Dil Ke Pas" from Blackmail (1974), "Neelle Neele Ambar Per" from Kalkar ( 1983) and "Pal Bhar Ke Liye" from Johny Mera Naam.
Kishore also worked with other composers including Rajesh Roshan, Sapan Chakraborty and Bappi Lahiri. Kumar sang "Bhool Gaya Sab Kuchh" (duet with Lata Mangeshkar) and "Dil Kya Kare Jab Kisise" for Rajesh Roshan's film Julie. Their other songs include "Yaadon Mein Woh" from Swami, "Chhookar Mere Man Ko Kiya Toone Kya Ishaara" from Yaarana the mesmerizing "Kaha Tak Ye Manko Andher Chalenge" from Baton Baton Mein, "O Yara Tu Yaro Se Hai Pyar", and "Laharon Ki Tatah Yaadien" (1983) and Kahiye, Suniye (duet with Asha Bhosle) from Baton Baton Mein. Bappi Lahiri also recorded many songs with Kumar, including Pag Ghunghroo Bandh from Namak Halaal (1982), Manzilen Apni Jagah Hai from Sharaabi (1984), "Chalate Chalte Mere Ye Geet Yad Rakhana" from Chalte Chalte (1975) and "Saason Se Nahi Kadmose Nahi" from Mohabbat (1987) and duets with Lata Mangeshkar such as "Albela Mausam" and "Pyar Ka Tohfa" from Tohfa (1984). The Kishore and Bappi pair also recorded hits in Bengali, including "Chirodini Tumi Je Amar" from Amar Sangi (1987) and "E Amar Gurudakshina" from Gurudakshina (1987). Another Bengali musician was Ajay Das, who composed many hit songs in Kumar's voice. He also recorded a duet song Hello Hello Kya Haal Hai with Asha Bhosle for Naushad in 1975 for the movie Sunehra Sansar, the only song of Kishore. He also worked with music directors Basu and Manohari Singh for duets such as "Wada Karo Jaanam" and "Dariya Kinare" for the film Sabse Bada Rupaiya and "Aa Humsafar" for the film Chatpatee.
During the Indian Emergency (1975–1977), Sanjay Gandhi asked Kishore to sing for an Indian National Congress rally in Bombay, but he refused. As a result, Information and broadcasting minister Vidya Charan Shukla (1975–1977) put an unofficial ban on playing Kumar songs on state broadcasters All India Radio and Doordarshan from 4 May 1976 till the end of Emergency.
Kumar produced and directed some movies in the late 1970s and early 1980s; Pyar Zindagi Hai, Badhti Ka Naam Dadhi (1978), Sabaash Daddy, Zindagi (1981), Door Wadiyon Mein Kahin (1980) and Chalti Ka Naam Zindagi (1982)—which was his last appearance as an actor. Kumar's son Amit Kumar became a Bollywood singer in the 1974 with the song "Apne Bas Ki Baat Nahi", composed by Kumar for the film Badthi Ka Naam Daadi. Amit Kumar became popular with success of the song "Bade Achche Lagte Hai". Kishore continued singing for several actors even in 1980s. Kumar performed stage shows right from 1969 to earn money to pay his income tax arrears. Kumar stopped singing for Amitabh Bachchan in the year 1981, after Bachchan refused to appear as a guest in the film Mamta Ki Chhaon Mein, which Kishore produced. Kishore declined to give voice for Amitabh in Naseeb, Coolie, Mard and Desh Premee. Kishore said he would give his voice to Randhir Kapoor in the film Pukar. Since Kishore shared good rapport with R. D. Burman, he agreed to sing in Mahaan, Shakti and Bemisal. Later, Kishore called a truce by singing for Amitabh in a solo song in Shahenshah and later in Toofan. Kishore sang the song "Mera Geet Adhura Hai" for his production Mamta Ki Chaon Mein and picturised the song on Rajesh Khanna. Kishore had directed the film, but died in 1987 and Rajesh Khanna helped Amit Kumar in releasing the film in 1989. He also temporarily stopped singing for Mithun Chakraborty after Yogeeta Bali divorced him and married Chakraborty. However, he later sang for Chakraborty in Surakshaa in the 1970s, and in the 1980s in many films, including Boxer, Jaagir, Fareib and Waqt Ki Awaz.
In the mid-1980s, Kishore sang for Anil Kapoor in Kapoor's debut film as a leading man, Woh Saat Din and also recorded for Mr. India. (1987) the song "Zindagi Ki Yahi Reet Hai Haar Ke Baad Hi Jeet Hai". He sang duets with Alka Yagnik such as "Tumse Badhkar Duniya Mein Na Dekha" for Kaamchor in 1982, "Humnashi Aaake from Ek Daku Saher Mein" and sang "Teri Meri Prem Kahani" in Pighalta Aasman.
He had recorded the duets "Kaho Kahan Chale" for the film Bulundi, "Pyar Ka Dard Hai" from Dard and "Tum Jo Chale Gaye" from Aas Paas, a few days before his heart attack in 1981. He suffered his first heart attack on 24 January 1981 in Kolkata in the noon hours and within a gap of another four hours, suffered his second heart attack. The first solo song sung by him, after recovery from his two attacks was "Mere Sang Sang Aya" from Rajput (1982) and the duet with Asha – "Mausam Bheega Bheega" from Gehra Zakhm.
By September 1987, Kumar had decided to retire as he was unhappy with kind of songs and tunes being made by music directors and was planning to return to his birthplace Khandwa.
On 13 October 1987—his brother Ashok's 76th birthday—he died of a heart attack in Bombay at 4:45 pm. His body was taken to Khandwa for cremation. Kumar had recorded his last song, "Guru Guru"—a duet with Asha Bhosle for the film Waqt Ki Aawaz (1988) composed by Bappi Lahiri for Mithun Chakraborty and Sridevi—the day before he died. His song "Pal Bhar Ke Liye" from the film Johny Mera Naam (1970) was used in an episode of The Simpsons titled "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore". His songs have been featured in several films, including Such a Long Journey (1998) and Side Streets (1998). Sony TV organised the television singing contest K For Kishore to search for a singer like Kumar.
Kumar's unreleased song was sold for Rs 15.6 lakh at the Osian's Cinefan Auction, New Delhi in 2012, the highest price bid for any Indian singer. The song was "Tum hi to woh ho", written by Kulwant Jani with music by Usha Khanna. This was for a film called "Khel Tamasha" by Rakesh Kumar, which never got made. The song was recorded just three days before his death in October 1987.
In 1996, nine years after his death, Kumar's vocals from the song Saala Main Toh Saab Ban Gaya were used in the movie, Raja Hindustani and picturised on Aamir Khan. Kumar originally sung it for Dilip Kumar and it is from the film, Sagina.
In his memory, the government of Madhya Pradesh has set up a memorial on the outskirts of Khandwa. It is open to public and has his life sized statue in a lotus-shaped structure. It also houses a mini-theatre and museum dedicated to him. On his birth and death anniversary each year, a function is held and many fans participate. The mini-theatre also screens his films on these days.
Kumar married four times. His first wife was Bengali singer and actress Ruma Guha Thakurta aka Ruma Ghosh. Their marriage lasted from 1950 to 1958. His second wife was actress Madhubala, who had worked with him in many films including his home production Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958) and Jhumroo (1961). When Kumar proposed to her, Madhubala was ill and was planning to go to London for treatment. She had a ventricular septal defect (hole in the heart), and he was still married to Ruma. After his divorce, the couple had a civil wedding in 1960 and Kumar converted to Islam and reportedly changed his name to Karim Abdul. His parents refused to attend the ceremony. The couple also had a Hindu ceremony to please Kumar's parents, but Madhubala was never truly accepted as his wife. Within a month of their wedding, she moved back to her bungalow in Bandra because of tension in the Kumar household. They remained married, but under great strain for the remainder of Madhubala's life. Their marriage ended with Madhubala's death on 23 February 1969.
Kishore's third marriage was to Yogeeta Bali, and lasted from 1976 to 4 August 1978. Kishore was married to Leena Chandavarkar from 1980 until his death. He had two sons, Amit Kumar with Ruma, and Sumit Kumar with Leena Chandavarkar.
Kumar is said to have been paranoid about not being paid. During recordings, he would sing only after his secretary confirmed that the producer had made the payment. On one occasion, when he discovered that his dues had not been fully paid, he appeared on set with makeup on only one side of his face. When the director questioned him, he replied "Aadha paisa to aadha make-up." (Half make-up for half payment). On the sets of Bhai Bhai, Kumar refused to act because the director M V Raman owed him ₹ 5,000. Ashok Kumar persuaded him to do the scene but when the shooting started, Kishore walked a few paces and said, Paanch Hazaar Rupaiya (five thousand rupees) and did a somersault. After he reached the end of the floor, he left the studio. On another occasion, when producer R.C. Talwar did not pay his dues in spite of repeated reminders, Kumar arrived at Talwar's residence shouting "Hey Talwar, de de mere aath hazaar" ("Hey Talwar, give me my eight thousand") every morning until Talwar paid up.
The film Anand (1971) was originally supposed to star Kishore and Mehmood Ali in the lead. Hrishikesh Mukherjee, the director of the film, was asked to meet Kishore to discuss the project. However, when he went to Kumar's house he was driven away by the gatekeeper due to a misunderstanding. Kumar—himself a Bengali—had not been paid for a stage show organized by another Bengali man and had instructed his gatekeeper to drive away this "Bengali", if he ever visited the house. Consequently, Mehmood had to leave the film as well, and new actors (Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan) were signed up for the film.
In spite of his "no money, no work" principle, sometimes Kumar recorded free even when the producers were willing to pay. Such films include those produced by Rajesh Khanna and Danny Denzongpa. On one occasion, Kishore helped actor-turned-producer Bipin Gupta by giving him ₹ 20,000 for the film Dal Mein Kala (1964). When actor Arun Kumar Mukherjee—one of the first persons to appreciate Kishore's singing talent—died, Kumar regularly sent money to Mukherjee's family in Bhagalpur.
Many journalists and writers have written about Kumar's seemingly eccentric behavior. He placed a sign that said "Beware of Kishore" at the door of his Warden Road flat. Once, producer-director H. S. Rawail, who owed him some money, visited his flat to pay the dues. Kumar took the money and when Rawail offered to shake hands with him, reportedly Kishore put Rawail's hand in his mouth, bit it and asked "Didn't you see the sign?". Rawail laughed off the incident and left quickly. According to another reported incident, once Kumar was due to record a song for producer-director G. P. Sippy. As Sippy approached his bungalow, he saw Kumar going out in his car. Sippy asked Kumar to stop his car but Kumar increased his speed. Sippy chased him to Madh Island where Kumar finally stopped his car near the ruined Madh Fort. When Sippy questioned his strange behavior, Kumar refused to recognize or talk to him and threatened to call the police. The next morning, Kumar reported for the recording session. An angry Sippy questioned him about his behaviour the previous day but Kumar said that Sippy must have dreamt the incident and said that he was in Khandwa on the previous day.
Once, a producer went to court to get a decree that Kumar must follow the director's orders. As a consequence, he obeyed the director to the letter. He refused to alight from his car until the director ordered him to do so. After filming a car scene in Bombay, Kumar drove until he reached Khandala because the director forgot to say "Cut". In the 1960s, a financier named Kalidas Batvabbal, who was disgusted with Kumar's alleged lack of cooperation during the shooting of Half Ticket, reported to the income tax authorities, who raided his house. Later, Kumar invited Batvabbal to his home, asked him to enter a cupboard for a chat and locked him inside. He unlocked Batvabbal after two hours and told him, "Don't ever come to my house again".
Kumar was a loner; in an interview with Pritish Nandy (1985) he said that he had no friends—he preferred talking to his trees instead. Once, when a reporter made a comment about how lonely he must be, Kumar took her to his garden, named some of the trees there and introduced them to the reporter as his closest friends.