Kedarnath Bhattacharaya (born 20 October 1957) popularly known as Kumar Sanu, is an Indian playback singer. He is known as the King of Melody in Bollywood. His voice and singing style are heavily influenced by singer Kishore Kumar. He is famous for singing thousands of Bollywood Hindi songs. Apart from Hindi, he has also sang in other languages including Marathi, Nepali, Assamese, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Manipuri, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Punjabi, Odia, Chhattisgarhi, Urdu, Pali, English and his native language Bengali, both in West Bengal and Bangladesh. He holds the record for winning five consecutive Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback Singer (1990–1994) along with Arijit Singh. For his contribution to Indian cinema and music, he was awarded the Padma Shri in 2009 by the Government of India. Many of his tracks feature in BBC’s “Top 40 Bollywood Soundtracks of all time”.
Early Life and Career
Kumar Sanu’s father, Pashupati Bhattacharya, was a vocalist and composer. His father’s village was in Hasara of Srinagar Upozila in Bikrampur (Now Munshiganj district), East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh). The two and Sanu’s elder sister lived in the Sinthee area of Calcutta (now Kolkata) near Biswanath Park.
Kumar Sanu started his playback career, as Sanu Bhattacharya. In 1986, he got Bangladeshi film Tin Kanya, directed by Shibli Sadiq. Sanu had his first major Bollywood song in Hero Hiralal (1989).
In 1989 September 23, Jagjit Singh introduced Kumar Sanu to Kalyanji in Vimal Bunglow, Mumbai. On their suggestion, Sanu changed his name from “Kedarnath Bhattacharya” to “Kumar Sanu” after his idol Kishore Kumar. Sanu then relocated to Mumbai, where Kalyanji-Anandji gave him a chance to sing in the film Jaadugar.
For the 1990 film Aashiqui, music directors Nadeem-Shravan got Sanu to sing all but one of the songs. He won the first of his record five consecutive Filmfare Awards as Best Male Playback Singer. His next Filmfare Awards came for songs in the movies Saajan (1991), Deewana (1992), Baazigar (1993) and 1942: A Love Story (1994). He won 5 back to back Filmfare awards for singing, between 1990 and 1994.
Kumar Sanu got his major break when Gulshan Kumar with music directors Nadeem and Shravan gave him chance to sing most of the songs of movie Aashiqui (1990), songs were recorded earlier for an album and later movie was made around the songs. The movie as well as the songs were a grand success. Thereafter, they worked together in many films, including Apmaan Ki Aag (1990), Saajan (1991), Phool Aur Kaante (1991), Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin (1991), Sadak (1991), Pyaar Ka Saaya (1991), Saathi (1991), Jaan Ki Kasam (1991), Deewana (1992), Dil Ka Kya Kasoor (1992), Jaan Tere Naam (1992), Sapne Sajan Ke (1992), Anaam (1992), Paayal (1992), Panaah (1992), Bekhudi (1992), Kal Ki Awaaz (1992), Dilwale Kabhi Na Hare (1993), Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke (1993), Sainik (1993), Junoon (1992), Balmaa (1993), Waqt Hamara Hai (1993), Rang (1993), Dil Tera Aashiq (1993), Tadipaar (1993), Sangraam (1993), Shreeman Aashiq (1993), Dhartiputra (1993), Kaise Kaise Rishte (1993), Aadmi Khilona Hai (1993), Divya Shakti (1993), Damini (1993), Dilwale (1994), Stuntman (1994), Aatish (1994), Salaami (1994), Chhoti Bahu (1994), Ekka Raja Rani (1994), Saajan Ka Ghar (1994), Kranti Kshetra (1994), Andolan (1995), Gaddar (1995), Barsaat (1995), Anokha Andaaz (1995), Saajan Ki Baahon Mein (1995), Zamaana Deewana (1995), Raja Hindustani (1996), Agnisakshi (1996), Majhdhaar (1996), Himmatvar (1996), Jeet (1996), Saajan Chale Sasural (1996), Pardes (1997), Naseeb (1997), Aa Ab Laut Chalen (1999), Sirf Tum (1999), Dhadkan (2000), Kasoor (2001), Hum Ho Gaye Aapke (2001), Ek Rishtaa: The Bond of Love (2001), Yeh Dil Aashiqanaa (2002), Ansh (2002), Haan Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya (2002), Dil Hai Tumhaara (2002), Tum Se Achcha Kaun Hai (2002), Dil Ka Rishta (2003), Qayamat (2003), Footpath (2003), Andaaz (2003), Indian Babu (2003), Hungama (2003), Sheen (2004), Hatya (2004), Gumnaam (2004), Barsaat (2005), Mere Jeevan Saathi (2006), and Sanam Teri Kasam (2009) . He has sung his most songs for them (293 songs).
Sanu has sung songs of various genres with Anu Malik. It was Malik who made Sanu sing his first western-style song “Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhe”, from the film Baazigar (1993). Some other achievements of the combo are Chamatkar (1992), Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayee (1993), Sir (1993), Imtihaan (1994), Vijaypath (1994), Main Khiladi Tu Anari (1994), Naaraaz (1994), Yaar Gaddar (1994), Hum Hain Bemisaal (1994), Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1994), Naajayaz (1995), Gundaraj (1995), Hulchul (1995), Akele Hum Akele Tum (1995), Diljale (1996), Sapoot (1996), Daraar (1996), Chaahat (1996), Virasat (1997), Hamesha (1997), Dil Kitna Nadaan Hai (1997), Judwaa (1997), Tamanna (1997), Duplicate (1998), Kareeb (1998), Soldier (1998), Iski Topi Uske Sarr (1998), Hum To Mohabbat Karega (2000), Ajnabee (2001), Aan: Men at Work (2003), Ishq Vishq (2003), Fida (2004) and No Entry (2005). In 2015, they were again back with songs in Dum Laga Ke Haisha
Sanu started his work with Jatin–Lalit on the 1992 film Khiladi. From then on he provided his voice for hit movies including Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992), Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1993), Boy Friend (1993), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Khamoshi (1996), Yes Boss (1997), Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai (1998), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha (1998), Ghulam (1998), Dil Kya Kare (1999), Khubsoorat (1999), Sangharsh (1999), Yeh Hai Mumbai Meri Jaan (1999), Vaastav (1999), Sarfarosh (1999) and Flames- Term 2 (The Timeliners Originals) (2019). He has sung a total of 137 songs for them.
Sanu worked for Himesh Reshammiya, for all title tracks of TV serials which Reshammiya produced. All the title tracks were sung by Sanu, and then in his debut film as a music director, Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya and further for many other films such as Kurukshetra, Yeh Hai Jalwa, Humraaz, Kahin Pyaar Na Ho Jaaye, Hello Brother, Bandhan, Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge, Jodi No.1, Uljhan, Footpath and Taarzan: The Wonder Car.
Beginning with “Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaye” in the movie Jurm (1990), Sanu’s collaboration with Rajesh Roshan produced one hit after another. Significant movies include Karan Arjun (1995), Sabse Bada Khiladi (1995), Papa Kehte Hai (1996), Dastak (1996), Koyla (1997), Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai (2000), Kya Kehna (2000), Karobaar: The Business of Love (2000) and Aetbaar (2004). Kaun Sachcha Kaun Jhootha 1996.
Kumar Sanu has rendered his voice for some of Viju Shah’s greatest compositions. Vishwatma (1992), Mohra (1994), Tere Mere Sapne (1996), Gupt (1997), Aar Ya Paar (1997), Beti No. 1 (1999), Bulandi (2000), Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat (2001) and Kasam (2001) are some of their notable albums. Ravan Raaj: A True Story
Kumar Sanu has recorded over 150 songs with Anand–Milind. Breaking away from his romantic image, he has sung peppy numbers for the duo, his most famous ones being for actor Govinda. He worked with the duo and successfully delivered hits such as Trinetra (1991), Jigar (1992), Bol Radha Bol (1992), Insaniyat Ke Devta (1992), Ek Ladka Ek Ladki (1992), Suryavanshi (1992), Hasti (1992), Giraft (1992), Platform (1992), Raja Babu (1994), Suhaag (1994), Jai Kishan (1994), Coolie No 1 (1995), Hero No. 1 (1997), Gair (1998), Chal Mere Bhai (2000), Army (1996), Lootere (1993), Gopi Kishan (1994) and Rakshak (1996).
Kumar Sanu has worked with almost all composers of his generation along with the composers of earlier and later era – Naushad, Kalyanji-Anandji, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Sardar Malik, R.D.Burman, Jagjit Singh, Ram-Laxman, Ravindra Jain, Usha Khanna, Bappi Lahiri, Hridaynath Mangeshkar, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Ilaiyaraaja, A. R. Rahman, Aadesh Shrivastava, M.M.Keeravani, Vishal Bhardwaj, Uttam Singh, Dilip Sen-Samir Sen, Nikhil-Vinay, Sajid-Wajid, Sandeep Chowta, Raju Singh, Altaf Raja, Sanjeev-Darshan, Ismail Darbar, Anand Raj Anand, Daboo Malik, Sukhwinder Singh and Vishal–Shekhar – to name a few of them.
Sanu has composed music for various Indian films. Utthaan and Yeh Sunday Kyun Aata Hai are most remarkable among them. Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Anuradha Paudwal, Sapna Mukherjee, Alka Yagnik, Sonu Nigam, Sadhana Sargam, Sudesh Bhonsle, Shaan, Shreya Ghosal, Hema Sardesai, Sunidhi Chauhan and many more lent their voices for his music. “Yeh Kaisa Utthhan Hai” (sung by Asha Bhosle and Sonu Nigam in two different versions) and “Jisne Sapna Dekha” (sung by Sanu himself) are critically acclaimed. He sang the title song for the TV show Yeh Duniyan Gazab Ki, with singer Udit Narayan.
In 2017, Sanu along with Sadhna Sargam sung for the title track of 19s Story based TV Series “Yeh Un Dinon Ki Baat Hain” and also appeared as a part for cameo in it. In 2019, he made a little singing for the Star Plus’s “Kulfi Kumarr Bajewala”.
Other than singing and composing music for films, he has also shown interest in producing films. In 2006, he produced his first Hindi film Utthaan. Currently, he is working with a fellow producer, Rakesh Bhhatia on a new project named Yeh Sunday Kyun Aata Hai. The film is based on the lives of four children who live in the streets of Mumbai and polish shoes at a train station in order to earn their livelihoods. The film will feature Mithun Chakraborty in a leading role. Recently, Sanu sang for a Bangladeshi Bengali film Hason Raja, which was directed by a UK-based filmmaker Ruhul Amin. This movie was never released. He also has composed for some Bengali movies; Amrita and Tobu Aporichito.
Sanu was on the panel of judges on Sony TV for Waar Parriwar, a reality show based on the bringing together of a singing gharana (family of singers) and on Zee Bangla TV in a music reality show called Sa Re Ga Ma Pa – Vishwa Sera. In 2012, he judged the Zee Bangla musical reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa – Gane Gane Tomar Mone. At present, he is one of the judges on the Bengali version of the popular musical reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L’il Champs.
Recently he recorded an album named Hum aur Tum. He also recorded a Spanish song for an album. He has also the record for the most recordings of songs in a single day, 28 songs. He also made special appearances as an actor in the movies Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain (1999) and Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015).
Sanu is a trustee and Brand Ambassador of Bishwa Bandhan, a foundation for cerebral palsy.
Sanu opened a primary school, Kumar Sanu Vidya Niketan, for underprivileged children in Karol Bagh, Delhi. The students are given uniforms and books free of cost.
Sanu had multiple hit duet numbers with singers Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Anuradha Paudwal, Alka Yagnik, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Sadhana Sargam, Alisha Chinai, Sunidhi Chauhan, Sapna Mukherjee, Poornima, Sapna Awasthi, Hema Sardesai, Shreya Ghoshal, Akriti Kakkar, Monali Thakur, Neha Kakkar, and others. Sanu also multiple duets with his daughter Shannon K, pop singer and songwriter, who has launched her career in the United States in 2017.
Sanu is also credited with the highest number of version songs and male duet hits with the finest singers of 1980s and 1990s. Some of the notable songs are as follows:
Kumar Sanu returned to playback singing in 2012. He made a comeback at the urge of composers Sajid–Wajid. Sajid-Wajid gave him “Chammak Challo Chhail Chhabili” – Rowdy Rathore, a wedding song with Shreya Ghoshal. In 2015, Kumar Sanu replaced Lata Mangeshkar as the background voice of Yash Raj Films logo for the film Dum Laga Ke Haisha. This was the first time in YRF’s 45-year history that Lata Mangeshkar’s voice was replaced.
He joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2004 in a ceremony headed by then Party President Venkaiah Naidu, but he later resigned to concentrate on singing. He rejoined BJP on 2 December 2014, inducted by Amit Shah.
Wife, Children and Family Life
Kumar Sanu had two marriages; the first was with Rita Bhattacharya, and the other one with Saloni Bhattacharya. In between this, he had the shortest fling with actress Kunika Lal as he found himself more interested in Meenakshi Seshadri.
Kumar Sanu had two marriages; the first was with Rita Bhattacharya in the late 80s and the other one with Saloni Bhattacharya which was a stable one. In between this, he had the shortest fling with actress Kunika Lal as he found himself more interested in Meenakshi Seshadri. Having said that, it was always the other woman because of which Sanu disrupted the current stable relationship. Let’s take a look at what went wrong in his first marriage and how he proceeded further.
Kumar Sanu married Rita Bhattacharya during the mid-80s. It is said that the two knew each other from their Kolkata days and Sanu got her to Mumbai while he went to make his career in the Bollywood industry and got married. They were blessed with their first son Jessy in 1988, thereafter, with two other sons named Jeeko and Jaan.
Life was good and they had a small happy family. During this time, Sanu was climbing the success ladder and received a lot of name and fame. It was in 1993 when the trouble started cropping in when Sanu got involved with lesser-known actress Kunika Lal having the shortest fling of the time.
Going ahead, Kumar found himself more attracted towards Meenakshi Seshadri, being well paid and most appealing Bollywood actress of the 90s era. It was during the premiere show of Mahesh Bhatt’s film Jurm that they first met. The movie’s famous song Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaaye was picturized on Meenakshi and was sung by Sanu.
With her beauty, Sanu was completely bowled over. It was then, they started dating each other. They kept their relationship under the wraps for around three years but it was during 1993, Sanu’s wife, Rita smelled something fishy through Sanu’s interview given by his secretary. She mentioned:
“Kumar has many ‘girlfriends’ and for now he is dating the popular actress Meenakshi Seshadri”.
On confronting, Kumar denied it initially but eventually accepted his affair with her. This was followed by an ugly legal scene. Thereafter, in the year 1994, he was divorced with Rita while she retained the custody of their three sons where Kumar had accessed the rights to his children only by paying a fixed alimony per month.
Kumar Sanu’s second wife Saloni Bhattacharya
During this time, Kumar and Meenakshi relationship suffered harms due to the unpleasant divorce charge and later, Sanu got separated from Meenakshi also. After splitting with both (Rita and Meenakshi), finally, Sanu tied the knot with Bikaner girl, Saloni Bhattacharya whose part of the family lived in London. The happy couple was blessed with two daughters, Shannon and Ana.
They stay with their mother in London, being their permanent base. Following the footstep of her father, the eldest daughter, Shannon also released her English music album in the year 2014 in the UK.
Kumar Sanu’s net worth as of 2022 is estimated at around $2 million – $10 million.