Kuldeep Manak was born on 15th November 1949 in the village of Jalal, district Bathinda, Punjab to Nikka Khan. Kuldip Manak came from a family with music background as his father Nikka Khan was a singer, and his ancestors were hazoori raagis of Kirtan for Maharaja Hira Singh of Nabha.
Kuldeep Manak went to school in his village, Jalal. During his school days, he was called Manka by his friends, later altered to Manak by then chief minister of Punjab – Pratap Singh Kairon. According to Manak, Pratap Singh Kairon even requested to change is name in school registers, making the name Kuldeep Manak as his official name.
Manak was in 9th grade at 17-years of age, when he recorded is first duet song (Jija Akhian Na Maar Ve Main Kall Di Kurhi) in 1968 with Surinder Seema. Thus, marking the start of Manak’s career as a professional singer. After the success of his duet with Surinder Seema, Manak went on to record his first solo song entitled Maa Mirze Di Boldi.
Later, Kuldeep Manak moved to Ludhiana from Jalal in 1971-72 and released an EP (extended play) in 1973 titled Punjab Dian Lok Gathawan composed of four songs – Jaimal Phatta, Teri Khatir Heere (kali), Dulleya Ve Tokra Chukayeen Aanke, and Raja Rasalu. All of these songs were penned by Dev Tharike Wala (Hardev Dilgir).
After the success of first four Lok Gathawan, Manak released another Lok Gathawan album in 1974 which was composed of songs such as Gorakh Da Tilla and Allah Bismillah Teri Jugni. Later in 1976, he released his first LP (long play), Ik Tara, featuring hit songs like Tere Tille Ton, Cheti Kar Sarwan Bachcha, Garh Mughlane Dian Naaran, and more.
Ik Tara album was named after the distinct sound of Manak’s tumbi – one stringed instrument.
According to Manak, Teri Khatir Heere established him in the Punjabi music industry and Tere Tille Ton made Manak – Kalian Da Badshah. Upon establishing his name as one of the best Punjabi singers during his time, Manak went on to release back to back albums until 1985.
Most of his songs are written by Dev Tharike Wala, and were an important part of his life, according to Kuldeep Manak. As mentioned by Dev Tharike Wala, his songs such as Tere Tille Ton were best sang by Kuldeep Manak.
As shared by Dev Tharike Wala in one of his interviews that, once the duo (Kuldeep Manak & Dev Tharike Wala) were in a studio to record the song Tille Waleya Milade Jatti Heer Nun, and Surinder Kaur (Koel of Punjab) was also present in the same studio, as she heard Manak singing the song she was thrilled to meet him personally, and she invited both of them for dinner. During the dinner at Surinder Kaur’s residence, she requested Manak to sing Tille Waleya Milade Jatti Heer Nun, and Manak sang the song for Surinder Kaur about nine times repeatedly.
Then she asked Dev Tharike Wala to write the same song for her, as she wanted to record the song, afterwards Dev Tharike Wala penned her a similar version of the song, which was entitled Tille Waleya Milade Ranjha Heer Nun.
Kuldeep Manak’s songs such as Yaaran Da Truck Balliye in Lambardaarni (movie) were a massive hit in the Punjabi film industry which established him as one of the primary contributors for the success of movies during that time, leading Manak to produce and act in his own films.
According to Kuldeep Manak, his favourite among all of his songs is – Maa Hundi Ae Maa Oh Dunian Waleyo.
Below are some of the best songs by Kuldeep Manak:
Maa Hundi Ae Maa
Goli Maaro Banauti Yaar De
Mirza Yaar Bulaonda Tere
Ik Kudi Koonjh Wargi
ਦੋ ਮੰਜਿਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਜੋੜ ਸਪੀਕਰ ਲੱਗਣੇ ਨੀ
ਜਿਹੜੇ ਵਾਜੇ ਵੱਜ ਗੇ ਮੁੜ ਓਹ ਵੱਜਣੇ ਨੀ
ਮਾਣਕ ਹੱਦ ਮੁਕਾ ਗਿਆ ਨਵੀਆਂ ਕਲੀਆਂ ਦੀ