August 4 is a red-letter day for music aficionados across the world because it was on this day, 92 years ago in 1929, that on a Sunday evening in Khandwa, Gauri Devi went into labour. Abhas was the youngest son of lawyer Kunjilal Ganguly and his wife Gauri, born after Kumudlal, Sati Devi and Kalyan. Today, the three boys are better known as Ashok Kumar, Anoop Kumar and Kishore Kumar, and while the eldest started out as an actor-singer in films like Jeevan Naiya and Achhut Kanya, it was Kishore who went on to establish himself as a legendary singer, also making a name for himself as an actor, writer, lyricist, composer, director and producer.
While all this is part of Wikipedia history, Anirudha Bhattacharjee who has three books to his credit—Gaata Rahe Mera Dil—50 Classic Hindi Film Songs, R.D Burman—The Man, The Music and S.D. Burman: Prince-Musician—and is working with Parthiv Dhar on a book on Kishore Kumar, has comes across something very interesting. The author informs that his Dadamoni had planning to launch Kishore as an actor with a remake of his 1936 cult classic, which revolved around a couple of star-crossed lovers separated by caste lines.
“Ashok Kumar had planned a remake of Achhut Kanya with Nalini Jaywant and Kishore Kumar in the lead ,” Anirudha surprises you. It’s another matter that the film eventually didn’t happen “because of copyright issues”.
Parthiv pulls out a rabbit from his hat too, revealing that Kishore had been a keen sportsman who had excelled in cricket and football while brother Anoop was good in hockey and cricket. “Double Olympian Akhtar Hussain, who represented both India and Pakistan in hockey, had been a part of their college hockey team,” he shares.
The one sport that Kishore never tried his hand at was swimming because he was allergic to water. “Once when he had gone for a college picnic and saw his friends frolicking in the water, he couldn’t resist the temptation and joined them. “Since he didn’t know how to swim, soon there was chaos as Kishore went under. His friends had almost lost all hope of saving him when a professor jumped to his rescue, giving him a fresh lease of life,” narrates Parthiv.
Those years at the Christian College in Indore proved to be both eventful and productive. “Kishore wrote and composed “Main hoon jhum jhum jhum jhum jhumroo,” when he was studying in college, sitting under a tamarind tree which grew in the campus. The film released in 1961, but the song was filed in 1946-’47 while “Paanch rupaiya baara anna” from the 1958 laugh-riot, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, was penned sometime in 1957-’58 and linked to his canteen credit,” adds Parthiv who boasts of an enviable collection of booklets and documentation on Kishore.
Anirudh who describes himself as an amateur musician and an avid Indian cinema buff, with an interest in puzzles and riddles, asks, “What is the claim to fame of the song “Qusoor aapka, huzoor aapka, mera naam lijiye na mera baap ka in Kishore Kumar’s life?” As you rack your brains, he answers with a laugh, “It was his last song as a bachelor. The very next day, Kishore came to Mumbai (then Bombay) and married singer-actress Ruma Guha Thakurta. The marriage was registered in 1950, they had a son, Amit Kumar, and divorced in 1958.
In 1960, Kishore married Madhubala, his leading lady in Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi and Jhumroo. It was a rushed affair because the actress had been diagnosed with a hole in her heart and he wanted to be with her when she travelled to London where she was planning to undergo a surgery. This shaadi ended with Madhubala’s untimely demise in 1969.
In 1976, he tied the knot with Yogita Bali, but this union only lasted two years. He then started seeing yet another actress, Leena Chandavarkar, whom he married in 1980.
Leena’s father was initially opposed to the match as Kishore was a thrice-married man who was more than 20 years older than her. “What song did Kishore sing to appease him?” Anirudha asks. Once again, you’re stumped and he grins, “Nafrat karne walon ke seene mein pyaar bhar doon.” Touche!
Kishore wrote and composed “Main hoon jhum jhum jhum jhum jhumroo,” when he was studying in Christian college, Indore, sitting under a tamarind tree which grew in the campus—Parthiv Dhar
What song did Kishore sing to appease Leena Chandavarkar’s father who was opposed to their match? “Nafrat karne walon ke seene mein pyaar bhar doon”—Anirudh Bhattacharjee