Popular As: Amirbai Karnataki
Birth: 1906
Death: 3rd March 1965
First Film: Vishnu Bhakti
Last Film: -
Work Span: 1934 - 1955

Amirbai Karnatki was famous as "Kannad Kokila". She was born in Bilgi Village, district Bijapur of Karnatka, in a lower middle class family. Of the five sisters Amirbai and Gauherbai earned fame and fortune. Amirbai complete her matriculation and came to Bombay at the age of 15. A representative from HMV was so impressed by her singing talent that he made her sing a Qawwali, which became very popular.

Her elder sister Gauher who was an actress, helped Amirbai get a role in a film called Vishnu Bhakti in 1934. Initially, she sang songs in films like Narsi Bhagat ('Deen Dayaal Sakal Dukh Bhanjan..'), Sardaar ('Ye Jagat Mohini Maaya..'), Darshan ('Shyam Kahan Soya Mera..'),etc., but, they failed to attain the success she deserved. In 1943, with the release of Bombay Talkies' Kismet, Amirbai became popular. She sang 'Ab Tere Siwa Kaun Mera..', 'Dheere Dheere Aa Re Baadal..', 'Door Hato Ae Duniya Waalon..' and 'Hum Aise Kismat Ka Kya Karen..', all the songs of Kismat became a rage and Amirbai became famous. The man behind the success was the great composer Anil Biswas. Kismat was a super hit and a fair part of the films success was owed to the vocal marvels of Amirbai.

S D Burman used her voice for his debut film Shikari (1946). He made her sing 'Har Din Hai Naya Har Raat Nirali Hai...'. It was a racy number of that time and Amirbai did some soprano too. The song was a hit and Amirbai rose to a new height. Later composer Shyam Sunder used her voice in Dev Kanya for the song ' Piya Milan Ko Jaane Wale Sambhal Sambhal Ke Chal...' which was again a super hit. Later C Ramchandra compsed 'Maar Katari Mar Jaana..' for the film Shehnai (1947) which created waves around the country. In the same year composer Khemchand Prakash came out with 'O Roothe huye Bhagwan Tumko Kaise Manaoon...' for the film Sindoor. It was a hit again. The year 1947 was the peak year for Amirbai's career. She gave memorable songs one after another.

She was initially known as a singing star but at the fall of her acting career she turned on to be a playback singer. She reached her peak through films like Bharthari, Caarwan, Aamrapaali, Shikari, Eight Days, Leela, Sindoor and many others. By this time Lata Mangeshkar became a rising star so Amirbai once again switched over to acting. In her second innings she mostly played character roles. She acted in films like, Kismat Ka Sitara, Lav Kush, Deewana, Veer Arjun, Aansoo, Subah Ka Taara, Dark Street, Jaadui Angoothi, etc. Amirbai also composed the music for Wahab Productions' Shehnaaz (1948). In same year she almost left Hindi cinema for Gujrati and Marwari films. She married Badri Kaanchwala, the editor of Paras.
She was quite popular with the film goers and even Lata Mangeshkar admired her talent a lot. Mahatma Gandhi was an ardent fan of her song 'Vaishnav Jan..'. She had a paralytic attack on 3rd March 1965 and she passed away just 4 days after the attack. She was cremated at her home town.

A cinema hall is still run in the name of "Amir Talkies" in the city of Vijayapura(Bijapur), by her family. 

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