- The miserly millionaire who made millions laugh! | The Real Kishore Kumar - [...] dear friend Bunny Reuben ( one of his “different” interviews with Kishore can be read HERE ). Very ...
Here comes one more fascinating interview of Kishore Kumar at a time of celebration, on occasion of our beloved Amit da joining the internet community. Launch of his own website www.amit-kumar.in & joining Facebook to interact with his fans. This post is solely dedicated to our dearest Amit da.
Again, this interview is of Prime Importance to those who want to study Kishore Kumar in-depth. A super one too. The way in which Bunny Ruben ( his earlier “interviews” of Kishoreda in Filmfare would be simply superb for those who missed them click here & here ) has put the matters, the use of language and stopping at the unknown pauses, not putting Kishoreda’s quotes but actually speaking Kishoreda’s mind in this article, leaving many mysterious incidents open to the public mental play, is simply fabulous. It would be worth delving into every point that the readers ponder on and wonder, WHY THIS MUST HAVE HAPPENED IN THIS LIFE ! 4 hours long interview culminated in this short writeup ! Wonder what is there MORE !!
The Loneliness Of The Long-Distance Laughter
- An interview with Kishore Kumar, by Bunny Ruben – Star & Style – Oct 16 1970
I’ve always had a very soft corner for Kishore Kumar. I have known him intimately since the mid-forties, when he had already graduated from singing to stardom, when the tensions were beginning to build up and his first marriage was heading for the rocks.
We used to meet frequently, and he had once told me:
“Nobody’s interpreted me more accurately in writing than you have.”
And then, from 1959 to 1970 we never met. True, living in the same industry we’d bump into one another here and there – at a playback-singing session, or whizzing past one another in Juhu somewhere. But for that full decade we never really got together.
Getting together after ten years seemed no different than before, and one was reminded of all the fantastic stories told about Kishore Kumar’s eccentricities. For our first meeting I was one hour late – so he had vanished when I did turn up!
For our second meeting, two days later, I was fifteen minutes early – and he again vanished !
Not a little annoyed, I drove away to a friend’s place in Bandra for a morning cup of tea, only to find a message relayed to me via a very circuitous route: “Kishore wants to meet you right away at Ashim Kumar’s house down the lane! He’s waiting there for you! He slipped away from his house because there were some other people coming at the same time whom he didn’t want to meet”!
How typically Kishore! Not a little relieved (I was dangerously close to the “Star & Style” deadline!) I raced back.
Looking out of the window, yelling and waving jocularly, he welcomed me. Then we were sitting on the divan and it didn’t seem like ten years any more, and I didn’t have to ask any more questions or “interview” him either, because it looked like he’d been waiting to meet me for a long time.
He admitted this breathlessly: “Off and on I’ve been wanting to ring you up. But you’ve been busy and I’ve been in a mess…And then, the other day, providentially you yourself rang up!”
He went on and on, talking, the pent-up emotions and frustrations of years pouring forth like the opened floodgates of a dam. And watching him, my mind went back over the years….
Kishore Kumar has had more ups and downs than any other personality in films. And his ups and downs have been more corroding because they have eaten as much into his private life as they have into his professional career. Comedy and buffoonery were the facades which Kishore Kumar built around himself long ago in order to keep everybody out. His amazing series of eccentricities, which eventually gained him the reputation of being the most unreliable and undependable artiste in the movieland, ultimately caused producers to shun him. So Kishore Kumar became a back number.
Then his private life grew more and more fraught with tensions and the rift between himself and his wife began to widen perceptibly, Kishore Kumar began to indulge in wilder and wilder eccentricities, playing all sorts of practical jokes on his producers, his colleagues, his friends, never attending shootings, and behaving generally more and more like a lunatic.
Kishore Kumar’s mental condition at this juncture was one of which only a remarkably strong-willed person could emerge. Inevitably, came separation, followed by divorce. Yet it was in this period, while he was undergoing a harrowing and critical phase of his life, that Kishore did some of the best work he has done on screen, not only as an artiste, but as an actor-producer as well. It was in this period that Kishore Kumar produced “Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi”, one of the very few genuine comedies made for the Hindi screen.
It is no use asking Kishore Kumar now as to what exactly were his feelings when he asked (the late) Madhubala to marry him. He himself would be unable to give a rational answer to this question relating essentially to the emotions.
Today, reflecting on the eight or nine years of his married life with Madhubala, Kishore confesses: “Emotionally speaking, I received more from her than I could give in return.”
Stories of this period of his life are harrowing and painful to listen to. Fleeting moments of happiness interspersed with long periods of misery, mental torture, tensions and quarrels- and the oppressive fear of the inevitable was always there, haunting him as much as it haunted her.
“She told me right in the beginning,” Kishore confessed. “She said: ‘You know I have an incurable heart condition. And yet you want to marry me?’ She made no bones about it.”
The marriage was doomed to tragedy from its start. They lived separately- Kishore with his mother at his Juhu bungalow; and Madhubala with her father and sisters in Bandra. As her condition progressively deteriorated, she needed him to sit by her side constantly.
Inevitable, his work started becoming erratic again, and his attendance at the studios irregular. The career-graph was plummating again, and that perverse streak in him which always seems to get the upper hand over Kishore in times of crisis, accentuated the plunge towards the back-benches again.
“I am a man with a past,” Kishore observed reflectively. “I have suffered emotionally more than anyone else I know of. Even Dada Muni confessed it recently when I told him that I had undergone more experiences of life than he had. He agreed that, yes, it was so.
“I am lonely – terribly lonely. But yet, I feel free at last. I feel empty, drained of all emotions. Yet I feel free. I long to get married again. Then I shy away from it. I see myself with a strange girl and in the middle of a conversation if she sees that faraway look in my eyes, she’ll know I’ve gone back into the past again….
“Its just no good.
“And yet, there are well-meaning friends, close and intimate ones like Sachind-da (S.D. Burman), who keep persistently trying to do match-making for me!
“Once I told Dada of this mad idea I had….Tell me-” he went off at a tangent, “do you think I’m crazy?” I shook my head – “No!” – and he went on:
“Well, I had this crazy notion, that I’d go and search in an orphanage somewhere. I’d look for a girl who didn’t know I was Kishore Kumar, a girl who has no father, no mother, no relatives at all – and I’d marry her!
“No, it’s just no good…”
He went off at a tangent again.
“You must come and see my shows sometimes!” he was growing enthusiastic now. “Do you know, there was a time when I was young and so shy I suffered mortally from stage-fright! The thought of going on stage to sing made me want to die! I guess I’ve become ‘besharam’ (shameless) now. I’ve seen so much of life, so much of death, so much of the insides of people’s hearts and souls, that nothing bothers me any more.
Really, you must come and see me sometime!”
Watching Kishore on the stage today is an invigorating and hilarious experience. The man knows his audience. He knows how to hold them entranced. See his ebullient antics his uninhibited singing, his gags, and you will not imagine how much of life this man has experienced.
“And the credit for this goes to Dada Muni,” confesses Kishore. “Work! You must work!’ he would keep dinning into me. And when I got into that big trouble with the Income-Tax Department there was no other go but to start working again, and keep on working.”
Back To Work
Today, most of Kishore Kumar’s work is meant solely to earn enough money to pay off his Income-Tax liabilities. Not caring to examine these matters for years, his liabilities went on mounting until they reached the astronomical figure of thirteen lakhs of rupees! And he was arrested.
Elder brother Ashok Kumar came to the rescue. “He gave a guarantee for those thirteen lakhs,” Kishore said. “And how many people are there in the world who’d do that?
“So I made up my mind that I’d live up to his expectations of me. I went back to work – singing playback like mad, giving shows like mad! I’m paying the money at the rate of twentyfive thousand a month!”
What all Kishore Kumar spoke to me that day – he spoke continuously for nearly four hours: about his emotional affairs, his state of mind, his life with both wives, the last few days of Madhubala, his grown-up son Amit (who has worked in “Door Ka Rahi”), his newly-found female friends and admirers (one of whom even talked him into visiting a psychiatrist!), his stage-shows, his persistent disinclination to act in films, his desire to marry again yet his curious avoidance of it – all this and much more provides fascinating material for a book, not a mere magazine interview. And perhaps, who knows, Kishore Kumar and I might yet around to writing his life-story one day…
But the fact remains: here is a near-genius of the entertainment world Here is a man whose enormous talent has been frittered away and sometimes even prostituted, by himself. Here is a man who has gone through endless tragedy, seeking himself and not finding what he sought.
What remains now is loneliness. It is the loneliness of the long-distance laughter, the laugher who had laughed over the distance of two decades and who, despite a broken heart, faces the third decade with that crazy grin on his face and a hit-song on his lips.