Do they yodel in India ?: Kishore Kumar

27 April 2008

This blog is dedicated to yodel, all the yodels from around the world. So here we begin.

Yes, they yodel in India, in Bollywood movies, the biggest film industry in the world, where songs and music are predominent.

Kishore Kumar (1929-1987) was one of these playback singers in the Indian film industry, as well as an actor, producer, composer among other things. He didn’t have a formal training in singing and first copied other singers but after advice of the composer and music director S.D. Burman, he tried to develop his own style. Beside a wonderful voice, yodelling became his trademark.

How did he discover yodel ? It’s not usual in India. Here’s the story: his brother Anoop went to Austria and bought some records with yodels there. One day when Anoop went home, he heard yodelling in the house and tought somebody was playing his records… but it was Kishore who had learned how to do it. Like Bart Plantenga says in The Rough Guide to Yodel: “Kumar had no professional vocal training – he just winged it, lending his yodelling an untutored abandon and avian robustness, as he mixed odd babbling jazz-scat, bird calls and Western-style yodel flourishes into the rhythms.”

The first song, Thandi hawa yeh chandni suhani comes from the 1961 film Jhumroo, a sad love story set in a hilly region of India, where Kishore Kumar actually plays the part of Jhumroo.

Chala jata hoon was sung in Mere Jeevan Saathi, a 1972 film that tells the story of a doctor who is caught up with his past (but that’s only the beginning of the story, Bollywood movies are known for their complicated stories). There is no real yodel in this song but a lovely falsetto voice.

Kishore Kumar – Thandi hawa yeh chandni suhani

Kishore Kumar – Chala jata hoon

And as a bonus, the first song as seen in the movie:


  1. Kishore Kumar was a rare singer. You can compare him with any other virtuoso of the modern-day history, and he will surely not disappoint you with kind of talent he had. Yodelling was merely a small part of his array of skills. Check out the following songs where he yodels yet again:


    There are several other songs where he very briefly yodels, or dose something alike:

    In fact, yodeling seemed to fit naturally in the kind of voice variations he used to do. For example, he has sung several songs as if humming/ whispering (I’m unable to get the right phrase right now):

    He does the same again at the beginning of this song, but more significantly he painfully laughs, setting up the mood of whole song:


    There are many other songs where he made very funny sounds. But then, he was like this at the personal level as well.

    Check out my own blog entries about Kishore Kumar below:


  2. Thanks a lot for these links !

  3. There is more yodelling by Kishore Kumar in the following song from the movie Jhumroo, in case you missed it out:


  4. Here is a funny song. Kishore Kumar sang both as a male and a female.


    I recently compiled a series of youtube videos of live Kishore Kumar shows. You can watch how restless and electrified he comes out as a performer. And most of these were recorded only a couple of years before his died in 1987 at the age of 58. Most of the times you may find him attempting to make audiences laugh and entertain instead of trying to prove out being a great singer. His personal life used to be like this too; many called him a crazy fellow.


    Interestingly, he started taking playback seriously only after his acting career was almost over in the late 60s (that is when he may have been 40). “Jhumroo” comes from an early era. His singing post 70s is far more better, with better recording facilities available in Bollywood by then. Many critics began calling him a Midas singer thereafter. You may listen to some of his scores by clicking compilations in “My Collection Of Kishore Kumar Songs” in the right navigation bar on my weblog.

  5. […] look, they even have a blog dedicated to […]

  6. yodeling in India first done by Mohammad Rafi.

    Unse rippie tippie ho gayi (Geeta Dutt, Rafi)
    1957 Film: Agra Road.

    Hello Sweety Seventeen (Asha, Rafi)
    1959 Film: Doctor Z.

    O chale ho kahan suno (Rafi)
    1962 Filme: Reporter Raju

    But as yodeling is not such big deal. many other singers can do that. So Rafi didn’t tried to make this item as his trademark in india. Later Kishore kumar used it in many songs beautifully. and people thinks that only Kishore was the pioneer of yodeling in India. Just want to clear this misconception. For me Rafi was the greatest ever playback singer india has ever produced.

    • You need not bring the rivalry which never existed between the two maestros in every field. If yodeling was that easy anyone could have done it. Even Rafi Saab did basic yodeling, and for your information the first proper yodel I can think of is “Aati hai yaad humko January February” from Muqaddar (1950) sung by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle, which happened to be their first duet together as well. Even “Ekdo teen char” from the same movie has some yodeling. But in Kaneez (1949), Kishoreda did yodel in the song “Duniya mein ameeron ko” which was primarily sung by Md. Rafi and SD Batish. The dates are way ahead of the dates in which Rafi saab did yodel.

    • oye, chup kar apni bakwas. jab rafi kachha pahan kar ghumta tha ,tab kishoreda ne apna pehla song gaya tha, 1940,kismat

  7. […] name and a Tamil comedian J P Chandrababu as having introduced yodeling in India. I found this page too. It is general perception that it was Kishore Kumar who started yodeling in playback singing […]

  8. hello.
    Thought of posting a link of my father Mr Archie Hutton , yodelling for Malayalam movie( Love in kerala )released in 1968 for the Ace music director M.S Baburaj. he’s now 83 yrs young , living in Calicut , kerala .by the grace off god, he’s musically active and even plays the Slide guitar ( hawain guitar) . cheers 🙂



  9. Kishore- a flat singer whom any singer with basic knowledge can sing.

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