|Native name||ಅಮೀರಬಾಯಿ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕಿ|
Bijapur (now Vijayapura), Karnataka, India
|Died||3 March 1965
Amirbai Karnataki (c. 1906 – 3 March 1965) was a famous actress/singer and playback singer of the early Hindi cinema and was famous as Kannada Kokila. Mahatma Gandhi was an ardent fan of her song Vaishnav Jan To.
Amirbai Karnataki was born in Bilgi town, District of Bijapur in Karnataka into a middle-class family. Of all of her five sisters, Amirbai and her elder sister, Gauharbai, earned fame and fortune. Amirbai completed her matriculation and went to Bombay at the age of fifteen.
Amirbai was a talented singer and actress who was fluent in Kannada (mother tongue) and Gujarati languages. 'Mahre te gamray ek baar aawjo' is one of her famous Gujarati songs from the film 'Ranrakdevi' with music composer Avinash Vyas. A representative from HMV Label music company was so impressed by her singing talent that he made her sing a Qawwali, which became very popular. This qawwali song was for film Zeenat (1945) by film producer-director Shaukat Hussain Rizvi. Her elder sister, Gauherbai, was an actress and helped Amirbai get a role in the film Vishnu Bhakti in 1934.
Initially, Amirbai sang songs in films, but they failed to attain the success she desired. In 1943, with the release of Bombay Talkies' Kismet (1943 film) (1943), she achieved popularity: the songs of Kismet became a rage and Amirbai became famous. The man behind the success was the composer Anil Biswas. She was initially known as a singing star, but at the decline of her career she became a playback singer. She reached her career peak by 1947.
After 1947, Lata Mangeshkar became a rising star, so once again Amirbai switched over to acting. In her later years she mostly played character roles. Amirbai also composed music for Wahab Pictures film Shehnaaz (1948). In the same year she almost left Hindi Cinema for Gujarati and Marwari films. One of the famous film magazines 'Film India' had mentioned in one of its articles that at that time in the 20th century when other singers used to get Rs. 500 for singing a song, Amirbai used to get Rs. 1000 per recording.
Amirbai's married life was full of ups and downs. Her first marriage was with the film actor Himalayawala. He was a well known actor for playing villainous roles in the movies. He used to beat Amirbai frequently after marriage and spent most of her earnings for his personal leisure. Amirbai had to put a fake smile on her face while performing as an actress and even while singing in studios. Famous gujarati writer Bhai Ranjan Kumar Pandaya has mentioned Amirbai's married life struggles in detail. He says that Amirbai's elder sister Ahilya Bai, yearning for justice, one late night went to the famous gujarati lawyer Chelshankar Vyas. She told Vyas that Himalayawala took a handsome amount and Amirbai's car in return for a divorce. And the very next day, he has even kidnapped her publicly from a recording studio. He has entangled her in a room and is repeatedly beating her. Even police was with Himalyawala. Chelshankar Vyas, taking into account all these allegations, decided to help her. He used his societal status and judicial understanding and finally got Amirbai get rid of Himalayawala. In the year 1947, when India got partitioned between India and Pakistan, Himalayawala went to Pakistan and earned himself a good reputation as a talented actor. Here in India, Amirbai got married for the second time with Badri Kaanchwala, the editor of Paras, who was a supportive husband.
Some of her hit film songs
- "O' Jaanay Waalay Balamwa Laut Kay Aa Laut Kay Aa"
- "dheere dheere aa re, baadal" , from film Kismat (1943)
- Priya madhuvanadali, it's a Kannada song sung by Amirbai which is so popular in all over Karnataka even today.
She had a paralytic attack in 1965, died just four days later and was buried in her hometown. A cinema hall still runs in the name of 'Amir Talkies' in the city of Bijapur by her family.
- Amirbai Karnataki https://sapnaonline.com/ameerbai-karnataki-rahamath-tarikere-pallava-prakashana-9789381920275-1621001] Author- Rahamat Tarikere,Publisher- Pallava Prakashan,2012
- Amirbai Karnataki https://web.archive.org/web/20150104195857/http://www.bookganga.com/eBooks/Books/details/4960116951099938816?BookName=Ameerbai-Karnatki] Marathi translation by- Prashant Kulkarni,Publisher- Granthali, 2014
- http://www.womenonrecord.com/music-makers/artists/zohrabai-amirbai-rajkumari, Profile of Amirbai Karnataki on womenonrecord.com website, Retrieved 20 May 2016
- http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0154026/soundtrack?ref_=tt_trv_snd, Soundtrack of Amirbai Karnataki on IMDb website, Retrieved 20 May 2016
- http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037213/soundtrack?ref_=tt_trv_snd, Soundtrack of Amirbai Karnataki on IMDb website, Retrieved 20 May 2016
- http://www.citwf.com/person239755.htm, Amirbai Karnataki filmography on Complete Index To World Film (C.I.T.W.F.) website, Retrieved 20 May 2016
- Amirbai Karnataki at the Internet Movie Database, Filmography of Amirbai Karnataki, Retrieved 20 May 2016