Amirbai Karnataki (1906-1965)
Amirbai Karnataki (born around 1906, died March 3, 1965) was a famous actress/singer and playback singer of the yesteryears and was famous as Kannada Kokila. Mahatma Gandhi was an ardent fan of her song Vaishnav Jaan.
Amirbai Karnataki was born in Bilgi village, District of Bijapur in Karnataka into a lower middle class family. Of all of her five sisters, Amirbai and her elder sister Gauherbai earned fame and fortune. (But according to some sources, Amirbai was elder to Goharbai Karnataki.) Amirbai completed her matriculation and went to Bombay at the age of fifteen. 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 Gauherbai was an actress and helped Amirbai get a role in the film Vishnu Bhakti in 1934. She worked in many films throughout 1930s and 1940s including Bharat ki Beti (1935), Prem Bandhan (1936), Narsi Bhagat (1940), Darshan (1941), Bharat Milap (1942) etc.
She also gave playback in many films, and with the success of Bombay Talkies’ Kismet (1943) she became one of the most sought after singers of the 40s. She continued to act and sing until the arrival of playback singer Lata Mangeshkar. With the rising popularity of Lata in late 40s, Amirbai singing career started to go downhill and she limited herself mostly to acting. In the second phase of her acting career, she was mostly cast in character roles.
Amirbai also composed music for Wahab Pictures’ Shehnaaz (1948). In the same year she almost left Hindi Cinema for Gujarati and Marwari films.
In 1930s, she was associated with, and probably married to, Himalaywala (famous Pakistani villian); some sources claim that he was abusive to her. Later, she married Badri Kaanchwala, the editor of Paras. She had a paralytic attack in 1965, died just four days later and was buried in her hometown (Source – Wikipedia)