- Was born in a well-to-do family, his father had held a very high position in a company based in Kanpur.
- Was the eldest among four brothers and one sister.
- Is the brother of the Bollywood actress Veena Kumari (aka Tajour Sultana) who won several Best Supporting Actress Awards for her roles in Bollywood films.
- Was a passionate singer and had decided to become like his idol Kundan Lal Saigal after his matriculation exams.
- Completed a diploma course in painting from Lucknow College of Arts after matriculation.
- Moved to Calcutta to pursue a career in singing at age 20 and auditioned for producer Kamal Das Gupta at HMV Music company, which secured him a debut role in film.
- Sang two songs that featured in a private album released by HMV company.
- Was engaged to a girl named Sayeeda in Kanpur but broke up with her after falling in love with the next-door Jewish girl Hannah Joseph in Kolkata.
- Married Hannah Joseph, who was rechristened as Rehana Ahmed.
- Made his Bollywood acting debut in Qazzak Ki Ladki (1937).
- Moved to Kanpur to become a singer after making a disc of his songs, but had to return to Calcutta at his producer's beck and call.
- Was terminated from his service at the film company in Calcutta following the partition of India in 1947, and moved to Mumbai in 1948 where he stayed at Hotel Evergreen in Khar.
- Being an accomplished painter, some of his works is seen in the opening background of the 1964 film Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Me.
- Gained recognition as a cop by his role in Ittefaq (1969) that garnered him a majority of roles as a police officer.
- Acted in the American TV series Maya (1967-68) and the English films Bombay Talkie (1970) and City of Joy (1992).