This post was most recently updated on October 8th, 2019
( 15.11.1949 – 30.11.2011 )
Manak was the youngest in his class. He completed his matriculation from the village school, where he was a keen field hockey player. He had an inclination towards singing from a very young age and was persuaded by his teachers to sing and perform on stage. In 1968, at only 17 years of age, he was given the chance to sing with Seema, a popular singer of that period.
Sadly Kuldeep Manak passed away on 30/11/2011
Kuldeep Manak was born in the village of Jalal in the Bathinda district. His father Nikka Khan, was a singer himself. Manak has two brothers: Siddqui, a devotional singer, and Rafiq, a tantric, who also hit the headlines for a while. Kuldeep Manak’s ancestors were the Hazoori Raagis (designated cantors) of Kirtan for Maharaja Hira Singh of Nabha. Manak studied under Ustad Kushi Mohammad Qawwal of Ferozepur. Manak later converted to Sikhism and he placed a Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji’s Saroop (copy) at his home.
He was married to Sarabjeet and had two children, a son Yudhvir Manak (married) and a daughter Shakti (married). Yudhvir is following in his father’s footsteps as an up-and-coming singer from Punjab. Manak was a heavy drinker since young age, he used to say his habit of drinking came from the people whose company he shared. Manak died on 30th November, 2011.
Manak left Bathinda and went to Ludhiana to pursue his career as a singer. He started singing with the duo Harcharan Grewal and Seema. When they came to Delhi, a music company official spotted Manak and asked him to record the song Jija Akhian Na Maar Ve Main Kall Di Kurhi (written by Babu Singh Maan Mararawala) with Seema. His first record features this song along with Laung Karaa Mittra, Machhli Paunge Maape (written by Gurdev Singh Maan). This record was a runaway success. He started an office at Bathinda along with writer Dilip Singh Sidhu, but did not stay there for long and returned to Ludhiana. The writer Hardev Dilgir (also known as Dev Thrikewala) spotted Manak at one of his live performances and penned Lok Gathavan (Folk/old Stories) for him.
His first album, ‘Teri Khatir Heere’, was released by HMV. In 1976 his first LP was released called ‘Ik Tara’. It included the songs ‘Tere Tilley Ton’, ‘Chheti Kar Sarwan Bachcha’ and ‘Garh Mughlane Dian Naaran’. Further albums included ‘Sahiban Da Tarla’ (1978), ‘Ichhran Dhaahan Maardi’ and ‘Sahiban Bani Bharaawan Di’ (1978). Many singers in Punjab take care in what they eat, be it hot, cold or pickle, Manak keeps an attitude of eat what you get and eats any type of pickle. Manak also tried to run as a member of parliament in Punjab and did not win.
The self proclaimed Crown Prince of Bhangra, Jazzy B said in the track “Jadu (Rambo)”: “Main Manak Da Chela, Dass Doon Aal Dawaale Nu, Meri Umar Vi Lagg Jey Jandu Littranwale Nu”. “I am Manak’s disciple (he is my Ustaad/Guru/Teacher), tell everyone and everything I hope that Jandu Littranwala (Lyricist) lives with my age added onto his (Paying homage).”
Jazzy B is a huge fan of Kuldeep Manak as are many other Punjabi artists, fans and admirers. Gurdas Maan paid tribute to Kuldeep Manak in his song “Pind Dian Galiyan” with line “Manak hadd muka giya naviyaan kaliyaan di..” roughly translated to “Kuldeep Manak broke all limits of traditional Punjabi Kali.”