Kishore Kumar's Tragic Love Life

Kishore Kumar

Abhas Kumar Ganguly, better known by his stage name, Kishore Kumar, was the youngest of four siblings, Ashok Kumar, Sati Devi, and Anoop Kumar. As a chorus singer at Bombay Talkies and an actor in the film Shikari (1946), Kishore began his career in the film industry following in the footsteps of his brothers Ashok and Anoop.


In the span of four decades, Kishore Kumar gave us a treasure trove of songs. Infusing his music with a tinge of yodeling, Kishore was able to adapt his voice to whichever character he was working with and win the hearts of everyone he met.


Kishore Kumar's magnificent voice, and the capacity to condense an ocean of emotions into a song, made him one of the most famous singer-actors to this day.. It was a heartbreaking reminder of the coldness that hid behind his illustrious life, but Kishore Kumar's rendition of O Saathi Re, Tere Bina Bhi Kya Jeena brought him thunderous ovation. Even though Kishore was usually in the spotlight, his innermost feelings of loneliness and dissatisfaction were plain to see. It wasn't just that the singer-actor was involved, but he married four women who were all well-known in their professions at the time. 

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In 1950, Kishore Kumar married Satyajit Ray's niece, Ruma Guha Thakurta. Aside from acting and singing, Ruma was also a prominent socialist. The Calcutta Youth Choir was founded by her in 1958. Amit Kumar was born to the couple in 1952, after they wed in a lavish ceremony in Bombay in 1950. 


Soon after their marriage, there were reports of rifts between Kishore Kumar and Ruma, as the actor wanted Ruma to stay at home with their kid and take care of the household, but Ruma refused to give up her fame and potential. In 1958, eight years after their marriage, the couple mutually ended their relationship. He last appeared in 2006's The Namesake, an American film directed by Mira Nair. 

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In an interview with Pritish Nandy, Kishore Kumar revealed the reason for their split, saying: "She was a very talented person but we could not get along because we looked at life differently. She wanted to build a choir and a career. I wanted someone to build me a home. How can the two reconcile? You see, I'm a simple-minded villager type. I don't understand this business about women making careers. Wives should first learn how to make a home. And how can you fit the two together? A career and a home are quite separate things. That's why we went our separate ways." 


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Soon after his turbulent marriage ended, Kishore Kumar began courting Madhubala. In fact, he proposed to her in the classic Bollywood-ish style just as she was getting ready to fly to London for her treatment. He married Madhubala, soon after the latter’s divorce from Dilip Kumar. This led to the whole country erupting in a frenzy on the news of their marriage. This was because there were rumors that Kishore Kumar had converted to Islam in order to please Madhubala's family. 

Madhubala was rejected by Kishore Kumar's family even after their civil Hindu wedding.Madhubala was found to have a hole in her heart prior to her marriage. Despite the fact that their marriage lasted only a few years, they were able to coexist peacefully for the first few years before both succumbed to depression in the later years. Because Madhubala was confined to a bed and Kishore had to watch his beloved perish in front of his eyes, he felt compelled to help. 


Kishore had said in an interview with Pritish Nandy that:

"She was quite another matter. I knew she was very sick even before I married her. But a promise is a promise. So, I kept my word and brought her home as my wife, even though I knew she was dying from a congenital heart problem. For 9 long years, I nursed her. I watched her die before my own eyes. You can never understand what this means until you live through this yourself. She was such a beautiful woman and she died so painfully. She would rave and rant and scream in frustration. How can such an active person spend 9 long years bed-ridden? And I had to humour her all the time. That's what the doctor asked me to. That's what I did till her very last breath. I would laugh with her. I would cry with her." 


After Madhubala's death, Kishore Kumar found love in the arms of Yogeeta Bali, the niece of Shammi Kapoor's first wife, Geeta Bali. According to rumors, while filming Khwaab (1980) with Kishore Kumar, Yogeeta Bali fell head over heels in love with Mithun. After only two years of marriage, Yogeeta and Kishore Kumar were granted a divorce.


Kishore Kumar later revealed that their marriage was a joke. "That was a joke. I don't think she was serious about marriage. She was only obsessed with her mother. She never wanted to live here." A closer source revealed that Kishore Kumar said, "But that's because she says you would stay up all night and count money. ‘Do you think I can do that? Do you think I'm mad?’ Well, it's good we separated quickly." 


In an interview with Pritish Nandy, Kishore Kumar discussed his fourth marriage to Leena Chandavarkar and remarked, "In contrast to most people, Leena is a unique individual. The fact that she's an actress makes her similar to the others, but it doesn't make her the same. She's been through a lot in her life. She's been there, done that. Things in your life alter once your husband is shot dead. You've got a handle on things. You've come to terms with the fleeting nature of everything. Now I can truly say that I am content."


Despite being a sought-after actress, Leena Chandavarkar married Sidharth Bandodkar at a fairly young age (Chief Minister of Goa). Leena was only 25 when tragedy struck and she was left a widow. Her first husband Sidharth Chandavarkar was a huge fan of Kishore Kumar. “If Kishore proposed, would you marry him?” Sidharth had asked Leena the question when visiting Lonavala. "I said 'never'," she later revealed. She had no idea that years later, Kishore Kumar would marry her as his fourth wife.



According to Leena Chandavarkar, who recalled their first meeting in 1979, "One day, his driver Abdul came home, gave me his number and asked me to call him. When I called him, he, at once, picked up the phone and said, 'Leena! I've been waiting to hear from you'. Every morning he'd call me and without introducing himself start talking. He'd make me laugh. My father began noticing a change in me. I didn't fall in love with him instantly but I felt protected when I was with him. He was kind to his staff. I'd wonder why he was called kanjoos. There was no chichorapan (frivolousness) about him. He didn't drink. But yes, he didn't like his women working. I liked the child in him who rejoiced in the rain, who felt excited about nature. His world was a world of dreams. Once he went to a bazaar in Delhi. There he saw masoor ki dal. Immediately he said, 'Let's go to Musoorie!' I loved this gypsy life. I was in need of such a life." 


In an interview, Leena Chandavarkar admitted that 'one must never say never' after she had previously stated that she would never accept Kishore Kumar's proposal. Kishore sang the song “Mere Dil Me Aaj Kya Hai” one day, but Leena didn't recognize his hint for marriage when he sang it. 


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Leena had reminisced about it, saying:"A few days later he said, ‘If you ever think of settling down again, please consider my proposal’. I was shocked and told him that marriage may be a ‘casual’ thing for him but I had not yet forgotten Siddarth. He said, ‘Achcha cancel it!’ After that he never mentioned marriage. It was only professional talk between us." 


Leena Chandavarkar had gone on to explain how she became insecure after falling in love with him. "Kishore ji never said the words 'I love you' to me once in my life. He explained that it's something that needs to be experienced rather than explained. Even in his movies, he was never excessively sentimental. In the course of adoring him, I began to feel insecure. Girl fans would smooch him and leave their lipstick smudges on his face during his concerts. 'Lagaam,' he called me."


Leena Chandavarkar was quoted as saying the following on the day of Kishore Kumar's death and his final words before he breathed his last:"On the morning of October 13 (the day he passed away in 1987), he looked pale and as though in deep sleep. As I went near him, he woke up and asked, ‘Did you get scared? Today is my holiday’.” That day he had several meetings at home. During lunch he told me that we’d watch the film River of No Return in the evening. A little later, I heard him move furniture in the next room. When I went to see what was happening, I saw him lying on the bed. Nervously he said, ‘I’m feeling weak’. I ran to call the doctor. He got angry and said, ‘If you call the doctor, I’ll get a heart-attack’. Those were his last lines. His eyes were wide open and he was breathing out. I thought he was fooling as usual but that was the end." 


When Pritish Nandy pressed Kishore Kumar on the subject of his four marriages, the singer responded, "Because I like being left alone." 


Everybody in the town was stunned by Kishore Kumar's sudden death. Even though he was an unstoppable creative force, his troubled marriage grounded him in the harsh realities of life. Kishore Kumar, on the other hand, will always be a legend. The wonderful music he composed and left behind for us will live on in the hearts of future generations as a constant reminder of his legendary status.

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