Kuldeep Manak was an Indian folk singer who is popularly known as “Kaliyan da Baadshah” in Punjab. He was the master of a musical instrument called the Tumbi. In 1976, he became the first Punjabi artist to record LP (long play) with HMV. In the era of duet performances, Kuldeep Manak preferred to perform solo on stage and gave many big hit shows in his career. He died of pneumonia complications in November 2011 in Ludhiana.
According to some sources, Latif Mohammed Khan was born on Thursday, 15 November 1951 (age 60 years; at the time of death), whereas some other sources say that he was born on 15 November 1949 (age 62 years; at the time of death) in the village Jalal, district Bathinda, Punjab. He completed his education at a government high school in Jalal. This is the place where his headmasters Kashmir Singh and Lal Singh Brar encouraged him to become a singer and appointed Ustad Kushi Mohammad Qawwal of Ferozpur to teach him the art of music. While attending a tournament at the govt. high school, the then chief minister of Punjab Sardar Partap Singh Kairon got impressed by his voice, and it was Sardar Partap Singh Kairon who named him “Kuldeep Manak.”
Height (approx.): 5′ 3″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Kuldeep Manak belonged to a “Mirasi” family. Mirasis are considered traditional dancers and singers in the north west parts of India and Pakistan.
Parents & Siblings
Nikha Khan (also known as Nikha Singh)was the father of Kuldeep Manak, who himself used to do kirtan and sing rags. Kuldeep Manak lost his father at a very early age. His mother’s name is Bachan Kaur, died on 13 June 1979. He had two brothers, Siddqui who was a devotional singer, and Rafiq, a tantric, who was booked in a molestation case in 2003. He had two sisters as well, who moved to Pakistan at the time of partition and died there.
Wife & Children
Kuldeep Manak married Sarabjeet Kaur on 18 September 1975 and had a daughter, Shakti Manak, and a son, Yudhvir Manak, with her. His son, Yudhvir Manak is also a singer in the Punjabi music industry.
Though he belonged to a Muslim family, he was a preacher of Sikhism. As his grandfather, father, and uncles were the Hazoori Ragis for the Maharaja Hira Singh of Nabha, and they had Prakash of the holy book “Guru Granth Sahib” at their home, so Kuldeep Manak inclined towards Sikhism. In an interview, he talked about his religious views and said,
Since childhood, he has seen his parents at the service of Guru Granth Sahib, that is why he became preacher of Sikhism.”
To pursue a career in singing, Kuldeep Manak moved to Ludhiana from Bathinda and started singing with Harcharan Grewal and Surinder Seema. When he was 17 years old, he got a chance to record a duet with the famous vocalist Surinder Seema for the first time, and that record turned into a huge success. “Maa Mirze di Boldi” was the first folk song sung by Kuldeep Manak. In 1973, he recorded “Punjab Dian Lok Gathawan” as his first EP under HMV. He worked with Amarjot Kaur for almost four years and in 1983, recorded an LP with her; from which the songs “Ik Mai Hova Ik Tu Hove” and “Lae Gya Meri Jind Kadh Ke” were the most popular.
Later, in 1974, he recorded the album named “Allah Bismillah Teri Jugni”, which was a great hit of that time. His famous Kali “Tere Tille Ton” was part of his first LP, “Ik Tara”, recorded with HMV.
Kuldeep Manak and his nephew started performing on stage when they were studying in school. He was influenced by the Dhadis (a type of musical tercet or quartet) to sing in a high-pitched voice. In his career, he performed on many stages in India as well as abroad. He told in an interview that the biggest gathering of 12-13 lakh people that he ever witnessed was at his village, Jalal, where he landed the stage on a plane along with the DGP KPS Gill. He said whenever he performed at Gadri Babe de Mela, there was always a huge crowd.
Kuldeep Manak sang many hit songs for many Punjabi films such as “Sathon Nae Majhin Chaar Hundian” from the film Saidan Jogi (1979), and “Yaaran Da Truck Balliye” from the film Lambardaarni (1980). In 1981, he produced a Punjabi film, “Balbiro Bhabi;” he also acted in the film, but after this movie, he decided to never act in any film again. In an interview, he said
He faced a huge loss in this movie and he will never act again. He will consider singing a song in movies rather than acting.”
In 1996, as an independent member, Kuldeep Manak contested the Lok Sabha election from Bathinda. He received 23,090 votes but lost the election.
In an interview, he said that he decided to join politics to do something for the singer fraternity because the murder of singer Dilshad Akhtar had deeply saddened him.
Kuldeep Manak revealed in an interview that he was booked in a murder case in 1971 and was kept and tortured in police custody for three days. According to Manak, he was booked after false allegations were made against him in connection with the case.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- He was awarded the best singer award by the Bhasha Vibhag Punjab (Language Department of Punjab).
- He was awarded Life Achievement Award by the TV channel ETC Punjabi.
On Wednesday, 30 November 2011, Kuldeep Manak passed away at a local hospital, DMC, in Ludhiana. He was suffering from a prolonged illness and had pneumonia complications in his last days. The last rites were performed at his birthplace, village Jalal, on 2 December 2011.
- His nickname was “Ladha.”
- Kuldeep Manak’s friends used to call him “Latif Mohammed Manaka” in school.
- Kuldeep Manak’s headmasters Kashmir Singh and Lal Singh Brar bore the expenses of his school fees.
- Manak believed that all the fame he earned was the blessings of the seer in his village who was suffering from Leprosy and Manak used to serve him daily.
- Apart from the title “Kaliyan da Baadshah,” Kuldeep Manak also earned the title “Lok Gayaki Da Baadshah.”
- Kuldeep Manak was famous for his beard style- a French-cut beard.
- Kuldeep Manak was known for singing in different pitches and tones. He was also called the high-pitched singer.
- He was very inspired by the work of legendary playback singer Mohammed Rafi.
- Kuldeep Manak was known for his drinking habit, and he reportedly used to consume alcohol before every performance.
- He always started his stage show by singing “Vaar Banda Singh Bahadur.” Banda Singh Bahadur was a Sikh warrior and commander of the Khalsa army.