Kishore Kumar Marriage: Fourth Time’s The Charm

Kishore Kumar always maintained a sense of awe and deep admiration when it comes to yesteryear Hindi and Bengali singer K.L. Saigal. Kumar would spend hours imitating Saigal in order to attain the same pitch and frequency as his role model. It is no wonder that when Kumar began his career in showbiz, he loathed acting so much that he would always look for means and excuses to find a getaway. Singing is what he truly loved, and it is exactly what he did after giving acting a pass. In spite of not receiving any formal music training, Kishore Kumar is regarded as one of the finest singers ever to grace Indian cinema; perhaps best remembered for his signature outbursts of yodeling.

When it comes to matters of the heart, Kumar married four times, all of whom were actresses. Interestingly, his first wife is still active in cinema even today. So who were the four women in Kishore Kumar’s life? Let’s dive right in.

From Abhas Kumar To Kishore Kumar

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Kishore Kumar was born Abhas Kumar Ganguly on 4th August 1929 in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh. Kumar was one among the four children of Kunjalal Ganguly, the personal lawyer of Khandwa’s royal family, and Gouri Devi, who hailed from a wealthy Bengali family. Kumar received most of his education in Khandwa and completed his higher studies in Indore. He was still young when his eldest brother Ashok Kumar, made a breakthrough in cinema, and his other brothers soon followed suit.

Kumar arrived at Mumbai in the early 1940s, and with the help of his eldest brother who already a star, managed to find work as a chorus singer. On the behest of his brother Ashok Kumar’s recommendation, Kishore Kumar made his debut in films in the year 1946 with the film Shikari in which his brother played the lead role. His singing debut was with the film Ziddi (1948), and he went on to make a debut as the protagonist with the film Andolan (1951). By late 1950s, Kishore Kumar was an established actor, and a popular personality.

Kumar is regarded as one of the few actors of that era who would act and sing in the same cinema for the same character. By early 1960s he shifted focus on playback singing, and was one of the favourite singers of music director S.D. Burman. In spite of making appearances in some films in 1960s and 1970s, he predominantly remained a singer, and continued singing till his death in the year 1987 at the age of 58.

The First Marriage

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Kishore Kumar tied the knot for the first time in the year 1950 to Ruma, a Hindi and Bengali film actress. They had a son in the year 1952, whom they named Amit Kumar. Kumar and Ruma’s marriage is considered to be an arranged one, and it is said that Kumar’s flirtatious ways led to its breakdown. By 1958, Kumar was romantically involved with actress Madhubala, and therefore in the year 1958, Kumar and Ruma divorced. Ruma later remarried Arup Guha Thakurta, and continued to work in films, where she is still active presently. Their son Amit Kumar, went on to become a playback singer like his father, and is still an active singer today.

Marriage Number Two – Marrying Madhubala

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By the late 1950s, Kumar had acted in a substantial number of films with Madhubala, and the pair soon began an off-screen romance. Madhubala was earlier romantically involved with Dilip Kumar, and since their relationship did not work out, she was left heartbroken and distressed. It is said that she had a fling with Kishore Kumar just to make Dilip Kumar jealous, and make him realise that she can have her very own admirers. Kumar and Madhubala had a court marriage in 1960 much to the opposition of their respective families. For this reason, they had two weddings, one as per Islamic traditions (for Madhubala’s family), and another following Hindu rituals (for Kishore Kumar’s family). Kishore Kumar even changed his faith for Madhubala, and renamed himself Karim Abdul.

Madhubala was suffering from a cardiovascular problem – she was born with a hole in her heart. Kumar was aware of the fact when he married her. Madhubala’s problem intensified by early 1960s, which left her bedridden by mid-1960s. The prolonged terminal illness of Madhubala would often be the cause of various arguments between the couple, and their marriage soon turned sour and stormy. Madhubala even left Kumar’s place by mid-1960s to live in her maternal home, where she remained his bedridden wife till her death in February 1969.

Going For A Third Wedding

Kumar’s third marriage was a short-lived one and came as a surprise to many. Kishore Kumar tied the knot for the third time in 1976 to actress Yogita Bali, the niece of actress Geeta Bali and wife of actor Shammi Kapoor. Yogita Bali was more than 20 years younger than Kumar, and it is not known how and where the couple first met. Speculation is that the age difference took its toll on their relationship, and by 1978, a mere two years after tying the knot, the couple had separated.

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In a later interview, Kishore Kumar shared that Yogita was not exactly serious about marriage. “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.”

Yogita Bali fell in love with the actor Mithun Chakraborty in the year 1980, and soon filed for a divorce from her estranged husband. The divorce decree was granted the same year, and Yogita then went on to tie the knot with Mithun Chakraborty, with whom she had a successful marriage.

The Fourth And Final Wedding

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Kishore Kumar’s fourth marriage came as an equal surprise as his third one, and once again the primary reason was the age difference between him and the lady. Kumar got espoused for the fourth time to actress Leena Chandavarkar in the year 1980. Leena was about 21 years younger to Kumar, and she was earlier married to a certain Siddharth who belonged to a prominent political family. Unfortunately, Siddharth died in an accident just few days after their marriage, which left Leena completely bereft. Kumar and Leena happened to cross paths, and Kumar was touched by her story, and immediately proposed that the two marry. While Leena was ready for it, her parents in Dharwad, Karnataka vehemently opposed the union owing to the fact that she was much younger than Kumar, in addition to which the older man had already been married thrice.

Kishore Kumar, not one to back down, went all the way to Dharwad to convince Leena’s parents. Apparently, he even staged a light-hearted dharna (protest) and sang songs to convince Leena’s parents who finally caved in. Kumar got married to Leena in 1980, and the couple had a son, Kumar’s second child, whom they named Sumit Kumar.

Kishore Kumar and Leena Chandavarkar remained in a strong matrimonial bond till Kishore Kumar’s untimely death in the year 1987. Kumar passed away on 13th October 1987 due to heart attack.

The Unmatched Legacy

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Kishore Kumar’s death came as a shock to his fans, and friends within the industry. He left a legacy in the cinema world that few singers have ever managed to match, and despite being an untrained singer, Kishore will be remember for the outstanding command he had on his vocals. Needless to say Kumar left a vacuum, and his shoes are too big to be filled by anyone else. He was, in a true sense, one of the singing legends of Indian cinema, and will continue to live in hearts of his admirers, dare we say, forever.

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