Unfortunately for poor Ashok Kumar, his brother Kishore died on his birthday. After which Ashok stopped celebrating his birthday. I didn’t stop celebrating it, but I will acknowledge Ashok’s wishes by also putting up a post in honor of Kishore’s death. And also, I am still really sick and a Kishore themed post seems like something I can do without thinking too much.
Kishore started out as an actor, back when all actors also sang their own songs. Not because it was considered artistically more valid or anything, just because technology wasn’t there yet. According to urban legend, that is also why the trope of love songs talking place near trees came about, because they would hide the microphones in the trees. I’m not sure if I believe that, because couldn’t you just as easily hide the microphone in a sofa cushion? But it is what the legend says.
(KL Saigal, Kishoreda’s mentor, singing a song in which the microphones were probably hidden in pillars, not trees)
Once playback technology became more popular, Kishore was one of the few stars who continued to do their own singing, because his voice was just that good. Eventually, he stopped acting entirely, and just sang. While he had been a successful actor, especially in light comic roles, he became an all time great singer.
(Kishore doing his own playback singing, and serenading his future wife Madhubala)
He was also an all time great husband, marrying 4 times, each time for love. His first wife was a fellow Bengali, and a fellow actor turned playback singer, Ruma Guha Thakurta. They divorced with minimal hard feelings after 8 years and one child, and both went on to promptly marry someone else.
Kishore married Madhubala, beautiful and tragic Madhubala. She had just had her heart broken by Dilip Kumar, and Kishore cheered her up and made her smile again. And then shortly after marriage they discovered she literally had a broken heart, a hole in her heart which was slowly killing her. Kishore’s family never fully accepted her and they were never able to live together. But Kishore bought her a house and hired a nurse and made sure her last years were as happy and comfortable as possible.
Kishore’s next marriage was the only one to end with hurt feelings. But not because of anything Kishore did. His wife, Yogeeta Bali (Geeta Bali’s niece), had an affair with Mithun Chakraborty 2 years into their marriage and left him for Mithun. Kishore refused to sing for Mithun after that (understandably). Mithun and Yogeeta are still married and have children.
(Mithun and Yogeeta. My goodness he was handsome! I kind of can’t blame her)
And finally, at age 51, he married 30 year old Leena Chandavarkar. She had been married once before, an arranged marriage to a politician’s son who died of an accidental gunshot wound days after their wedding (knowing Indian culture, I think it is a good bet that at least some people considered Leena “unlucky” after that). Her family didn’t approve, but she married Kishore anyway and remained married until his death 7 years later.
She still lives in his house, with his son Amit from his first marriage, who calls her “Mother”, and Amit’s mother (now widowed from her second husband). Amit carried on his father’s legacy, and now is a playback singer himself.
(Full family affair, Amit and Kishore dueting on the soundtrack and Ashok Kumar onscreen)