The untimely demise of actor Inder Kumar, who succumbed to cardiac arrest at a ripe young age of 43 on Fri 28th Jul, 2017 exposes Bollywood’s dark underbelly, which is lined with countless stories of despair born out of professional disillusions. According to friends Inder Kumar, the late actor – producer who had rubbed shoulders with Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar & Sanjay Dutt on screen in the early 2000’s, was battling with severe alcohol & substance abuse even as he underwent treatment for depression. However, his current wife, Pallavi Sarraf, who oversaw the last rites on Fri evening, asserts that he had been working on 2 comeback films – Who Is The First Wife Of My Father? and a bilingual Krina, wasn’t depressed at all. “He went away too early, too soon,” she said.
In 1995, at 22, Inder Kumar left Kolkata with little money and no familial support to chase his Bollywoodian dreams. He bunked with 4 aspiring actors in Lokhandwala, dashing from 1 audition to another for 2 months. Then, Dhirubhai, an executive producer with Times Music, cast him in a number of music videos and after 6 months, introduced him to his filmmaker friend Mahesh Kothare who was working on the Hindi remake of his Marathi hit Maza Chakula. Inder Kumar was signed opposite Ayesha Jhulka.And Masoom was a surprise hit.
While shooting for his 2nd film, Ghoonghat, he impressed Chinni Prakash with his dance moves and the choreographer extended his portions in all the film’s tracks. Tirchi Topiwale (1998) brought him close to Monica Bedi. They attended Bollywood soirees together and developed a circle of mutual friends who would come to Inder Kumar’s aid in later years. One of them was Pro Raju Kariya who had worked as Inder Kumar’s publicist cum manager till 2009. He’d also given his blessings to the marital alliance between Inder Kumar & his daughter, Sonal Kariya. “He was like a son to me. He’d call me baba,” said an emotional Raju Kariya.
Inder Kumar also caught the eye of Salman Khan and they bonded over films, fitness & food. Salman got him a role in Kahin Pyaar Na Ho Jaaye & then a part in buddy Sanjay Dutt’s Baaghi in 2000. A year later, they reunited for Tumko Na Bhool Payenge. Around this time, filmmaker – siblings Saeed Mirza & Aziz Mirza paired him with Isha Koppikar in Ek Tha Dil, Ek Thi Dhadkan. “The film never saw the light of the day but Inder Kumar & Isha Koppikar started dating each other and were soon inseparable,” informed Raju Kariya.
Inder Kumar was on the rise when a knee injury in 2002 triggered a downward spiral. While filming Partho Ghosh’s Maseeha, Inder Kumar insisted on doing his own stunts much against the advice of action directors Ravi Shinde & S Kamoo. A miscalculated jump from a helicopter damaged both his knees and he couldn’t walk for almost 6 months. “He only resumed work after 2 years and in Bollywood out of sight is out of mind. Everyone forgot Inder Kumar, so did Isha Koppikar,” Raju Kariya reminisced.
The long period of inactivity took the actor to a psychiatrist’s door. He was put on anti – depressants. Inder Kumar then moved in with Raju Kariya & his daughter Sonal Kariya and they began to look after him. “I was surprised when he told me that he wanted to marry Sonal because I’d assumed he was still seeing Isha Koppikar,” Raju Kariya. admitted.
On 2nd Oct, 2003, Salman Khan hosted the wedding party at Sea Princess Hotel. Ronit Roy who had replaced Inder Kumar as Mihir Virani in Ekta Kapoor’s small screen serial Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, stayed close to him throughout the night.
Soon after, Sujit Guha offered Inder Kumar the Bengali thriller, Agnipath. The film tanked, so did Ek Aur Amar Premm. The disappointments led Inder Kumar to substance abuse and Sonal Kariya filed for divorce. “Inder Kumar saw their daughter Khushi for the last time at the final court hearing in 2005. Sonal Kariya moved to Nagpur with her daughter and never returned,” Raju Kariya sighed.
Back on his own again, Inder Kumar learnt that Sahil Khan had bagged a parallel lead in Sohail Khan’s Aaryan and went to the Khans. He tried hard but the film flopped. In the end, only the industry friends & well – wishers like Rahul Prakash & Keshav Arora remained by his side. Inder Kumar’s day would begin with a drink and he’d smoke 2 – 3 packets of cigarettes through it, informs a friend
2 years later, in 2007, at a Holi party at filmmaker Sanjay Gupta’s residence, he tried to rekindled his romance with Isha Koppikar. But they broke up again and Isha Koppikar went on to marry a restaurateur Timmy Narang in 2009 while Inder Kumar suddenly announced that he was marrying a Punjabi model & actress Kamaljeet Kaur. The same year, Salman Khan gave him 1 last break in Prabhudheva’s Wanted. The film was a blockbuster and Salman Khan was back. But Inder Kumar was still stuck with small budget films. His 2nd marriage with Kamaljeet Kaur too ended after 2 months.
He found love for the 3rd time in 2013, when he met Pallavi Sarraf, a model, at a party. They got married after a year of dating each other and had a daughter a year later. Inder Kumar thought it was the right time to turn a producer.
But on 25th Apr, 2014, he was arrested after a model accused him of rape & assault. He was charged under Sections 376 for rape, 324 for causing grievous hurt & 506 for criminal intimidation. On 9th May, 2014 medical reports supported the woman’s claims but Inder Kumar equivocally denied the allegations, arguing that it had been a consensual relationship. Pallavi Sarraf vouched for her husband but Inder Kumar was found guilty.
There is also a flip side to it. On 25th April 2014, Inder Kumar was arrested by the Versova police, after a 22 years old female model & aspiring actress registered an FIR alleging that he had raped & assaulted her with a promise of role in movies. Inder Kumar had claimed it was a consensual relationship and she was seeking a revenge after he ended the fling and went back to his wife. People of Bollywood distanced themselves from him and he was left with no friends, money or career when his daughter was only 15 months old. He was charged under sections 376 (rape), 324 (causing grievous hurt) & 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code. Under the Indian law even the consensual sex in a long – term fling can be claimed as rape by the woman, as the law says “consensual sex is rape when a man knows that he is not the husband of woman”, which High Court observed is misused as a form of revenge by the jilted female lover to accuse the men of rape. On 9th May, 2014 the police asserted that the medical reports supported that the woman had been raped as well as assaulted. Inder Kumar denied the allegations saying that he had had a consensual relationship with the woman. His wife Pallavi defended him fiercely in public with the statement that he slipped by having a consensual fling and during the 2 days during which the woman accused him of rape the claimant was freely moving in & out of her apartment alone in a cheerful mood to order food & buy alcohol to party at home with Inder Kumar, who later on apologized for leaving his wife for a short fling and he returned to his family. Subsequent to that, Inder Kumar was granted bail on 10th June, 2014. And the woman who accused him was arrested by police on 1st Aug, 2014 in an unrelated case for robbing her sister’s residence in the same locality of jewellery worth INR 10 lakh.
After being in jail for 5 months Inder Kumarwas granted bail on 10th Jun, 2014. “It was during this time that all the friends he’d made during his association with Monica Bedi came in handy and he came out of the jail looking fitter & better.
Excited about his upcoming releases, he had called me last week to say that it had been a long time since we met. “Come, let’s party” he urged. We had plans of a reunion on 3rd Aug, 2017. But the party, like his dreams to become a star, will remain unfulfilled,” sobbed Raju Kariya.
When last heard he was also working on a film called Phati Padi Hai Yaar. Oh! How symbolic.