Moments With Kishore…Feb 04
Thank you Leena ji for joining Facebook and moreover sharing some intimate views, anecdotes and photos on Kishore Kumar.Along with yours and Amit da’s entry into the scene, has brought back “life” to the bland/monotonous lives of we fans of the legend. This particular interview of Leena ji is so important, to look into the man called Kishore Kumar. Not only that, it gives indepth views on the person that Leena ji and Amit da, were, are. In this article, I was really fascinated by the strength and courage that Leenaji showed in life. The manner and dignity in which she has faced/embraced life is second to none. Also I was deeply touched by her description on Amit da , especially his relationship with Sumeet. Kishoreda’s relationship with Madhubala gives a new light to the rumours floating in the internet that he did not treat her well ( Madhur, Madhubala’s sister also recently in Sept 2011 Filmfare confessed that “After marriage “they” ( Madhubala & Kishoreda ) flew to London where the doctor told her she had only two years to live. But he ( Kishoreda ) never abused her as was reported” ) . Along with the earlier article of Leenaji ( can be read HERE ), serious people who want to study and/or present Kishoreda to the outside world, have to imbibe this article to the core. Only then real justice can be done to the topic called Kishore Kumar. Advance apologies for some omitted text, for the magazine pages that I had, were in poor shape
Movie – September 1990
AFTER FOUR YEARS OF SILENCE…..Leena Relives Her Moments With Kishore!
“ALL THOSE WHO LOVED ME LEFT ME.”
The day I met Leena Chandavarkar, I stopped believing in destiny.
For how could I possibly trust the wheel of fortune which had stopped the motion of this woman’s life? Which had run down and destroyed her past, the past that still haunts her, bothers her? “First it was Siddharth, then my mother, then my brother and then Kishoreda. All those who loved me, left me. One after the other,” is her sad lament. Yet, she stood alone, faced life. Accepted and withstood the whirlwind that kept on battering her, time after time.
Two years have passed since Kishore Kumar bid his last goodbye. But his presence, even the mere mention of his name, still enthralls her. It still brings back that giggly laugh. In fact, at times, she even scares you with her memories of him. “There’s this photograph of Kishoreda over my bed. It actually emotes. Sometimes it’s sad, sometimes angry, and sometimes it even smiles. Even Sumeet and Amit notice it at times.”
She’s not a star now. She’s not even in the news anymore. Then why am I doing an interview with her? That’s what I kept thinking before I met Leena. But those six hours that I spent with her, from seven in the evening till midnight, changed my whole thinking. As she brought back the fond memories of her days with Kishore Kumar, all of those years of silence came to an end. “The truth will always remain the truth. By trying to forget the past, I thought I was pushing it out of my life. But I was wrong.”
Yes, she was wrong. And I gave her the floor to set it all right.
” I often ask myself, why am I not upset with life? Why haven’t I lost faith in God. After all, I have nothing left. Except Kishoreda’s words. ‘If happiness hasn’t struck with you, sorrow won’t stay with you either.’ And perhaps that’s what keeping me going. Never let your defences down, was his policy. Never give up, is mine.
“A lot has been written about my marriage with Siddharth, a lot has been said. But I never spoke earlier. I was afraid that tomorrow Sumeet might read it and ask me about it. But now I am preparing him. I will tell him everything one day.
“When the Siddharth Bandodkar proposal came through, I was not in for marriage at all. But my parents were adamant. After all, he was the C.M.’s son. When I did meet him, I was attracted from the first day. He was so unlike the film people I knew. When I got married to him, I thought I was the luckiest woman on earth.
“But never I knew my happiness would be so short-lived. Just ten days of togetherness. Then on the eleventh’ day Siddharth’s death. It was certainly not murder like everyone said. There were these magazines and newspapers screaming, ‘Siddharth Bandodkar – Murder or Suicide?’ I wanted to protest but I was in no frame of mind to take action. I was too shaken up then. So my parents took me to my native place, away from everything. For almost a year. I was on sleeping pills. I reduced to half my size. My life had become a big zero.
“Until four years later, when I met Kishore Kumar. He changed the course of my life. ‘You are still young. Why don’t you act in my film’? he asked me. But I was in no mental shape to work. He finally forced me to accept the offer. After that, he became a guru for me. I developed a kind of respect for him. Maybe that’s why I was very angry when he proposed to me. To his face I told him, ‘You’ve been married thrice. And all three times you didn’t get the right wife. What makes you think I’ll be the one?’ But Kishoreda was insistent. I knew I worshiped him. Maybe I loved him too but I was too scared to accept the fact. And then the day came when I finally said yes. My parents were aghast. ‘How can you marry him?’ they asked. But I had made up my mind. Just a day before our marriage, Dada Moni (Ashok Kumar) warned me, ‘His first wife ran away. The second one died. Third one ran away too. Now its your turn to die.’
“Our marriage took place in total secrecy. All the servants were given a day’s leave. They were told that a pooja was going to be held in the house. Even the watchman didn’t know about the wedding. The pandit came to our house in different disguise and he chanted the mantras in a low voice. No dholaks, no shehnai. Later when I asked him the reason for such secrecy, he said, ‘Simply, I felt like doing it that way.’
“Its really sad how each one of his wives left him when he needed them most. He was just twenty when he married Ruma Devi. (not clear text for a couple of sentences). And Kishoreda was very scared of her mother. He said she was a tyrant. Actually, it wasn’t he who left Ruma Devi for Madhubala. The fact is it was Ruma, at that time who wanted a divorce. When Madhubala proposed to him, he was shocked. But he eventually married her only because Ruma Devi had left him.
“Kishoreda thought that he had found the right wife in Madhubala. But he was wrong. Soon after the marriage, she started getting her attacks. The doctors said she would never be able to have a child. And that she has only eight year to live. Kishoreda was also warned not to have any physical relationship with her, as the excitement could be fatal to her. Madhubala wasn’t told all this so when Kishoreda began staying away from her, she thought he was losing interest in her. She started getting suspicious. She even called up Waheeda Rehman and abused her as she thought that Waheeda and Kishoreda were having an affair. Without his knowledge, she signed a film ‘Chaalaak’, opposite Raj Kapoor. But on the very first day of the shooting she fainted and had to be hospitalised.
“One day she told Kishoreda ‘Abhi to main ek haddi ban gayi hoon. You don’t like me anymore.’ Kishoreda felt sorry for her and he hugged her. A minute later, Kishoreda heard her moan. She had an attack and had to be hospitalised immediately. There, the heart specialist, Dr Vakil told Kishoreda, ‘You’re a murderer. If she dies, I’ll hold you responsible. If you can’t control your physical desires, keep a mistress.’ You know something, Kishoreda said, ‘If I had to go on like this with Madhu for a couple of years more, I would’ve become impotent!’
“I still remember his expression when he narrated her dying to me. He had come home early and she was sleeping in her room with a rug covering her face. When he pulled the rug away, he got the scare of his life. Her face was red with blood, her body looked as if an elephant had stepped on it. He touched her face and it collapsed. Yes, she was dead.
“Once again he was left all alone until Yogeeta came into his life. He had cast her for his film ‘Shabash Daddy’. She was very immature and she often complained about how her mother was forcing her to work in films. She was insecure, so when Kishoreda started being nice to her, she stuck to him. She forced him into marriage. ‘Marry me or I won’t give you dates for your film’, she threatened him. So they got married quietly, in someone else’s house. When her mother heard of it, she got mad. But it was too late. So when the two were going for their honeymoon to Lonavala, she insisted on coming along too. ‘What if she becomes a mother? What will happen to her career?’ she reasoned. In fact she accompanied them everywhere and it really became frustrating for Kishoreda. Moreover she even used to take money regularly every month from him. ‘Usually its the girl who pays the dowry. But in my case it’s ulta,’ he used to say. There came a time when he couldn’t take it anymore. Since they were living separately in any case he decided it was best to end the relationship.
“I don’t understand why (not clear text for a few words) couldn’t understand the man that was Kishore Kumar. I found the man so possessive. And that possessive feeling is so beautiful. It makes a woman feel wanted. Even when I was not working in films, when I was just a housewife, Kishoreda used to get very upset if I mixed around with any other actors. Once Jeetu and Shashi Kapoor came to our bungalow to meet Kishoreda. I was the hostess so I sat to chat with them when Kishoreda called me to other room. “Why are you sitting with them?’ he asked me. ‘Don’t you have any shame?’ I told him they were my friends. ‘So what?’ he said. And then he didn’t let me sit with them again.
“Another time we had a small party and Amitabh had come for it. Now whenever Amitabh meets a close friend, he has this habit of hugging that person. So when Amitabh hugged me tight, you should have seen Kishoreda. Smoke came out of his ears, he was so furious. That night I got a real firing. I really used to get angry with him at times like these, but at the same time I felt good too because that was his love speaking. When I worked opposite Rajesh Khanna for ‘Mamta Ki Chhaon Mein’, Kishoreda didn’t allow me to even hold Rajesh’s hand.
“I remember when Jeetendra approached me to work in his film ‘Sarfarosh’. In front of Jeetu, Kishoreda said okay. So I went and signed the contract. When I told him that I’d signed the film, he got angry. ‘But you yourself said yes in front of Jeetu,’ I argued. ‘Yes, but that was only to please him. You should’ve known that I didn’t want you to work with him,’ he shouted. All through the week he was upset, he kept sulking with me. And just when I had a chance to manao him, the outdoor stint for Madras came up. He didn’t want me to go, but I told him that I had to since I was under contract. When I was in Madras he used to call me every half an hour. I would be in the midst of a shot when a message would come that he was on the line. And he had only this to say, ‘How are you? Keep your distance from Jeetu.’ In the hotel where I was staying the telephone operators must have had a great time listening to our conversations. Even when I returned, he didn’t recover. When I started telling him about my trip, he got so angry that he screamed, ‘From today onwards I am not going to sing any songs for Jeetu, come what may.’ Another day, Prasan Kapoor, Jeetu’s brother, came over to ask me for my dates and you know what Kishoreda told my brother Anil to tell him? He said, ‘Tell Prasan that she won’t shoot from now on. She has gone mad.’
“But Kishoreda was not an eccentric. He just wanted to project that image to everyone. I remember, once we had gone to Dharwad for a show. We were sitting in our bungalow garden when we saw a mob of fans coming towards us. They just wanted an autograph from him, but he was not in the mood. ‘I’ll drive them away,’ he said. And you know what he did? He stood up, made obnoxious faces at them, jumped in front of them and started screaming loudly. Imagine what would happen to you if a star does that in front of you. Obviously, you’ll think he’s going mad and you’ll run away from there. Well, that’s exactly what they did. He was relieved. He didn’t like crowds, he preferred being alone. He was happiest when nobody recognised him.
“You won’t believe it, one day he put a cloth over his eyes and went for a recording. ‘So that I won’t see the bad things in life,’ he reasoned when I asked him. Whenever we went abroad, he behaved in a similar manner. We were in a small town in London once and he actually danced across the road. He used to have bets with Amit. One day Amit challenged him to sit in the middle of the road. And Kishoreda actually did that. At times like these it used to be very embarrassing for me and Amit. We used to hide ourselves and pretend that we were not related to him at all. Once he started singing loudly on the streets. Seeing him, another local guy joined him. After a while Kishoreda realised that the other guy was heavily drunk and it was only then that he ran away from there. He hated drunkards.
“If he was possessive about me, I will say I was over-possessive. ( some text not clear so omitted a few lines ). I had become too dependent on him then. I did whatever he told me to. For him I quit films, for him I cut off my relations with my parents. And after all this, I couldn’t afford to lose him. Not at any cost.
“What is my relationship with Amit? Ever since I came to this house, I’ve been like his friend. Even when Kishoreda was with us, we were quite close. You know, we used to gang up against Kishoreda and play pranks on him. It was fun. Amit is so much like his father. Both of them never thought twice before they did anything. Like today, he shouted at the servants and they walked out of the house. But men like Amit are born only once in a lifetime. When he was a kid, he never saw his parents happy together. ( some text not clear in one sentence) In such an atmosphere, any other guy would’ve gone astray. But Amit maintained a balance. When I married Kishoreda, in the beginning he was a little aloof with me. But he never objected to his father’s decision. He knew what his father had gone in his earlier relationships. He knew that his father needed emotional stability.
“But it was only after Sumeet’s birth that we really became close. My mother died in an accident and before I could recover from that shock my brother too expired. I became depressed and I neglected Sumeet. Kishoreda was never around, he was working all the time. That’s when Amit took over the care of Sumeet. While I stayed at my maike, it was Amit who looked after my son. From changing his nappies to singing songs for him, Amit has done everything for him. As a result, today Sumeet doesn’t eat his food till Amit comes home. They’re so close to each other. Amit always tells me, ‘I see my baba in Sumeet’.
“I remember, since Sumeet was having his breakfast and he kicked his plate in anger. I shouted at him and slapped him hard. Amit, who was sitting next to him, got very angry with me. ‘You (some text/words not clear so omitted) get out out of this house,’ he shouted. I looked at Kishoreda who was also sitting at the same table. He glared at both of us but didn’t say anything. Of course, Amit later came to my room and started pressing my feet. As for Kishoreda, I realised later that he was caught between two sides. He didn’t want to show his son that his wife was important nor did he want his wife to feel neglected. So he simply kept quiet.
“Amit & Kishoreda shared a strange relationship. Amit was extremely scared of him. And as Kishoreda hated people who drank, Amit could never consume liquor in front of his father. So he’d have his drinks in the bathroom instead. But once Kishoreda caught him. He didn’t fire him. Instead he told him, ‘You are a good singer. But you will never reach great heights because you don’t have discipline. You don’t know how to treasure your voice.’ And that’s exactly what’s happened. Amit has not reached where he could have, only because he never took his career seriously.
“You know, I’m sure Kishoreda knew when he was going to die. That morning, thirteenth of October, he called up Dada Moni, Danny and a whole lot of friends. ‘I’m going to give you a big surprise,’ he told them all. In fact, just the night before, Dada Moni had come to our house with a video cassette of ‘The River Of No Return’, ‘See it tomorrow’, he told Kishoreda. But Kishoreda flatly refused. ‘Not tomorrow. Kal meri chutti hai,’ he said. And none of us really realised what he meant.
“On that morning itself he told me, ‘If anything happens to me, if I die, take me to Khandwa. Don’t keep me in Bombay. If you keep me here, friends, enemies will come, and on the face, they’ll cry and cry. But inside they’ll be happy, thinking, achha huaa saalaa mar gayaa.’ He was also very sarcastic about Doordarshan. ‘Why did I ever sing all those gloomy songs?’ he moaned. ‘I’m sure when I die they’ll play the same songs over me.’ And believe me, that’s exactly what happened.
“That same evening when I entered his room with his tea, he looked very uneasy, so I called the doctor over. While the doctor was examining him, I went to the other room to get something. When I came back, ‘He’s dead’. ‘Dead? I thought to myself. How could he do such a thing in my absence? How could he cheat me like this? I didn’t even cry at that time. I just had a very dizzy feeling, as if I was drunk or something. At that moment I felt I was going insane. But there was no reaction on my face. Only then I came back to my senses. It was as if I had returned from the verge of insanity.
“As Kishoreda had wished, we took his body to Khandwa. And believe me, there was a crowd of around five lakh people there. His fans had come from as far as Delhi, Meerut and Gwalior to pay their condolences. In fact, when we were taking the body to Khandwa, we stopped at Harda at a petrol pump. Believe me, there was this fan of his who became hysterical. ‘You promised to come to visit us, but we don’t want you in this state,’ he shouted, looking at the coffin. At that moment I said to myself, I was crying because I was his wife, but why was this man crying? He was not even related to him in any way.
“You know, without Kishoreda, life is not the same anymore. Amit and myself watch Kishoreda’s films till three in the morning at times. I will say, I’m living only for Sumeet, otherwise there’s no purpose. And Sumeet cannot live without Amit. We’ve all become inter-dependent. Kishoreda’s sudden death has left a deep impression on my mind. I mean, now I feel any moment could well be my last. Earlier I had so many expectations from life. Not now. Today, I’m alive but I’m not living life. Sometimes Sumeet gets up in the night and asks me to tell him a story. I can’t because I’m really bad at it. Then he starts crying and says, ‘Dada always used to tell me a story. When will he come back?’
“Kishoreda is dead, but I know he’s watching us all from up there. I don’t know how, I don’t know when, but I’m sure he is going to come back to me one day. I’m sure he will. And I’m waiting…..”
- Vipli Varde