Very few people know that Ashok Kumar’s birth anniversary coincides with the day that his younger brother Kishore Kumar passed away. Today we think of the legendary Ganguly brothers and the bond they shared
Kishore Kumar Ganguly’s career started long after his elder brother Ashok Kumar Ganguly had already become a star. Ashok Kumar has said that when Kishore was very young his voice was coarse and he didn’t even know that Ashok was his brother. He would often wonder why his mother fed Ashok each time he came home from Mumbai. Slowly Ashok’s family started visiting Mumbai too, taking the young Kishore along.
In 1949, Kishore came to Mumbai from his native place in Khandwa, hoping that his elder brother and film star Ashok Kumar would introduce him to his idol – singer KL Saigal. He started working as a chorus singer with the then-flourishing Bombay Talkies. Kishore always harboured playback singing ambitions. But big brother Ashok wanted him to become an actor, like he was. He got Kishore a role in a film called Shikari where Ashok played the lead role. But Kishore continued to strive to get singing work. He finally managed to get a song in Dev Anand’s Ziddi (Marne ki duayen kyon mangu) and many offers started flowing in soon after. Kishore couldn’t contain his singing ambitions, despite the fact that the industry was lapping him up as an actor. He kept getting roles as lead actor and did some of them, even though he didn’t particularly enjoy it. His brother encouraged him to continue dabbling in both aspects of the movies.
The brothers worked together several times, once even adding the third sibling Anoop Kumar for the comic caper Chalti Ka Naam Gadi in the year 1958; the film also starred Madhubala, whom Kishore married. Ashok and Kishore also worked together later in Door Ka Rahi in 1971, in which Kishore sang the melancholic Panthi hoon main us path ka filmed on the two men. There was a very close bond between the two and they always stood by each other. Sadly, Kishore died on October 13, 1987, on Ashok Kumar’s birthday. The elder brother never celebrated his birthday after that.