Amirbai Karnataki

Amirbai Karnataki

Full Name - Amirbai Karnataki
Born - 1906
Origin - Bijapur, Karnataka
Died - March 3rd, 1965, India
Genres - Playback Singing
Occupations - Singer
Instruments - Vocalist
Years Active - 1935-1961

Amirbai Karnataki was a renowned actress/singer and playback singer of the early days of Hindi cinema. It was because of her melodious voice that she was also referred to as Kannada Kokila. Mahatma Gandhi was a devoted fan of her song Vaishnav Jan To.

Early Life

Amirbai Karnataki was born in Bilgi village, Bijapur district in a middle class family. Of all her five sisters, Amirbai Karnataki and her elder sister Gauharbai earned fame and fortune. Amirbai completed her matriculation and then went to Bombay (Now Mumbai) at an age of 15.


A representative from the famous music company, HMV was so impressed by her singing skills that he made her sing a Qawwali, which became very popular. Her elder Gauharbai who was a senior actress helped Amirbai Karnataki get a film role in a movie called Vishnu Bhakti in 1934.

During her initial years as a singer, Amirbai Karnataki sang some of the songs and though she was recognized she could not attain the success that she has looking for since her childhood days. It was in 1943 a movie called Bombay Talkies' Kismet released and with it she achieved success.

The songs of Kismet became a rage and as a result Amirbai Karnataki became famous. The person behind her stupendous success was the composer Anil Biswas, the music composer for the film Kismet. In the starting phase of her career she was known as a singing star but at the decline of her career became a playback singer. By 1947, she reached the zenith of her singing career.

It was the same time that none other than the legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar was a rising star and as a result Amirbai Karnataki became an actor yet again.

In her later years, she mostly played lead roles but could not get much success. Amirbai Karnataki also composed music for Wahaab Pictures' Shehnaaz (1948). In 1948 itself, she almost abandoned Hindi cinema for Gujarati and Marwari films. Personal Life

Amirbai Karnataki married Badri Kaanchwala, the editor for the movie, Paras.


She suffered a severe paralytic attack in 1965 and died four days later. She was buried in her hometown. A cinema still runs in her name as 'Amir Talkies' in the city of Bijapur.

Amirbai Karnataki Songs