Kishore Kumar - Personal Life

Personal Life

Kishore Kumar married four times. His first wife was Bengali singer and actress Ruma Guha Thakurta aka Ruma Ghosh. Their marriage lasted from 1950 to 1958.

Kishore's second wife was actress Madhubala, who had worked with him on many films including his home production Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958) and Jhumroo (1961). When Kishore Kumar proposed to her, Madhubala was sick and was planning to go to London for treatment. At this time, she didn't know that she had a ventricular septal defect (hole in the heart), and her father wanted her to wait and consult the London doctors first. Furthermore, at the time he was married to Ruma. After his divorce, because Kishore Kumar was Bengali Hindu (Brahmin) and Madhubala Muslim, they had a civil wedding ceremony in 1960. His parents refused to attend. The couple also had a Hindu ceremony to please Kumar's parents, but Madhubala was never truly accepted as his wife. Within a month of her wedding she moved back to her bungalow in Bandra because of tension in the Kishore Kumar household. They remained married but under great strain for the remainder of Madhubala's life. The doctors in London told Madhubala that she would not live for long. The marriage lasted for nine years, and ended with Madhubala's death on 23 February 1969.

Kishore Kumar's third marriage was to Yogeeta Bali, and lasted from 1976 to 4 August 1978. Kishore was married to Leena Chandavarkar from 1980 until his death. Kishore Kumar sired two sons, Amit Kumar (playback singer) with Ruma, and Sumit Kumar with Leena Chandavarkar.

Kumar is said to have been paranoid about not being paid. During recordings, he would sing only after his secretary confirmed that the producer had made the payment. Once, when he discovered that his dues hadn't been fully paid, he landed up for shooting with make-up on only one side of his face. When the director questioned him, he replied "Aadha paisa to aadha make-up." (Half make-up for half payment). On the sets of Bhai Bhai, Kishore Kumar refused to act because the director M V Raman owed him five thousand rupees. Ashok Kumar persuaded him to do the scene. But, when the shooting started, he walked across the floor and, each time he walked a few places, he said, Paanch Hazzar Rupaiya (five thousand rupees) and did a somersault. After he reached the end of the floor, he went out of the studio, jumped into his car, and ordered his driver Abdul to drive away. On another occasion, when producer R. C. Talwar did not pay his dues in spite of repeated reminders, Kishore turned up at Talwar's residence one morning and started shouting "Hey Talwar, de de mere aath hazaar" ("Hey Talwar, give me my eight thousand"). He did this every morning until Talwar paid him.

The film Anand (1971) was originally supposed to star Kishore Kumar and Mehmood Ali in the lead. Hrishikesh Mukherjee, the director of the film, was asked to meet Kishore Kumar to discuss the project. However, when he went to Kishore Kumar's house, he was driven away by the gatekeeper due to a misunderstanding. Kishore Kumar (himself a Bengali) hadn't been paid for a stage show organized by another Bengali man, and had instructed his gatekeeper to drive away this "Bengali", if he ever visited the house. When Hrishikesh Mukherjee (also a Bengali) went to Kishore Kumar's house, the gatekeeper drove him away, mistaking him for the "Bengali" that Kishore Kumar had asked him to drive away. Consequently, Mehmood had to leave the film as well, and new actors (Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan) were signed up for the film.

In spite of his "no money, no work" principle, sometimes Kishore Kumar recorded for free even when the producers were willing to pay. Such films include those produced by Rajesh Khanna and Danny Denzongpa. On one occasion, Kishore Kumar helped actor-turned-producer Bipin Gupta, by giving him Rs. 20,000 for the film Dal Mein Kala (1964). When actor Arun Kumar Mukherjee died, Kishore Kumar regularly sent money to his family in Bhagalpur. Mukherjee was one of the first persons to appreciate Kishore's singing talent.

Many journalists and writers have written about Kishore Kumar's seemingly eccentric behavior. Kishore Kumar had put a "Beware of Kishore" sign at the door of his Warden Road flat, where he stayed for some time while his bungalow was being done up. Once, producer-director H. S. Rawail, who owed him some money, visited his flat to pay the dues. Kishore Kumar took the money, and when Rawail offered to shake hands with him, he reportedly put Rawail's hand in his mouth, bit it, and asked "Didn’t you see the sign?". Rawail laughed off the incident and left quickly. Kishore Kumar was a loner, and in an interview with Pritish Nandy (1985), he said that he had no friends – he preferred talking to his trees instead. Once, when a reporter made a comment about how lonely he must be, Kishore Kumar took her to his garden. He then named some of the trees in his garden, and introduced them to the reporter as his closest friends.

According to another reported incident, once Kishore Kumar was to record a song for producer-director G. P. Sippy. As Sippy approached his bungalow, he saw Kishore going out in his car. Sippy pleaded him to stop his car, but Kishore only increased the speed of his car. Sippy chased him to Madh Island, where Kishore Kumar finally stopped his car near the ruined Madh Fort. When Sippy questioned his strange behavior, Kishore Kumar refused to recognize or talk to him and threatened to call police. Sippy had to return. Next morning, Kishore Kumar reported for the recording. An angry Sippy questioned him about his behavior on the previous day. However, Kishore Kumar insisted that Sippy must have seen a dream, and claimed that he was in Khandwa on the previous day.

Once, a producer went to court to get a decree that Kishore Kumar must follow the director's orders. As a consequence, Kishore Kumar obeyed the director to the letter. He refused to alight from his car until the director ordered him to do so. Once, after a car scene in Mumbai, he drove on till Khandala because the director forgot to say "Cut". In the 1960s, a financier named Kalidas Batvabbal, patently disgusted with Kishore Kumar's alleged lack of cooperation during the shooting of Half Ticket, gave him away to the income tax authorities. Kishore had to face a raid at his house. Later, Kishore invited Batvabbal home, tricked him by asking him to enter a cupboard for a "chat" and locked him inside. He unlocked Batvabbal after two hours and told him "Don’t ever come to my house again."

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