Meena Kumari (1 August 1932 – 31 March 1972)-The Tragedy Queen of Bollywood
Meena Kumari is regarded as one of the greatest actresses to have appeared on the screens of Hindi cinema. During a career spanning 30 years from her childhood to her death,
Meena Kumari's grandmother, Hem Sundari Thakur (Tagore) was the daughter of the Rabindranath Tagore's younger brother.She was married into the Tagore family but She became widow at an early age, after she lost her husband named Rev Bill, she was compelled to give up all her rights to the family name or property by her in-laws.
Meena Kumari was born with the birth name Mahjabeen into the family of Ali Bux and Iqbal Begum on 1 August 1932/33.Little mehjabeen embarked on her acting career at the age of six, she was immersed in work over next four years, as child artist mostly in Vijay Bhatt productions Leatherface (1939), Pooja (1940), Nai Roshni (1941), Bahen (1941), Kasauti (1941) and Garib (1942).Vijay Bhatt became her mentor and, on the sets of Ek Hi Bhool (1940), rechristened Mahjabeen as Baby Meena.
More films followed for baby meena Pratiggya (1943), Lal Haveli (1944).She became heroine at the age of 14,Bachhon Ka Khel(1946) was his first film as heroine.Same year her another film Duniya Ek Sarai (1946), Piya Ghar Aaja (1947) and Bichchade Balam (1948) performing with credit and winning recognition from all in the industry.
The phase continued with several hits on the box office, including some mythologicals and fantasies Veer Ghatotkach, (1949)Shri Ganesh Mahima (1950), Magroor, (1950) Hamara Ghar, (1950) Anmol Ratan, (1950) Sanam, (1951) Madhosh, (1951) Lakshmi Narayan,(1951) Hanuman Patal Vijay, (1951) Tamasha (1952) and Aladdin Aur Jadui Chirag (1952).
On 14 February 1952 Meena Kumari age 19 and Kamal Amrohi age 34 secretly married in a simple 'Nikah' Cermoney, in the presence of a Qadi and Kumari's younger sister Mahaleka(madhu). The marriage was kept secret from family and media.Though Kamal Amrohi was already married and had three childrens.
1952 was a milestone in the life of meena Kumari,she not only married that year but also she got stardom with the release of Baiju Bawra. Meena Kumari won the first ever Filmfare Best Actress Award for Baiju Bawra on 21 March 1954 at the Metro Theatre in Bombay.The film celebrated diamond jubilee. The film was a musical, set up in Mughal India of 16th Century, with classical Hindustani melodies set by Naushad Ali.
1953: Parineeta based upon the 1914 Bengali novel by Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay directed by Bimal Roy, starting Ashok Kumar got Kumari the second Filmfare Best Actress Award. Film Do Bigha Zamin directed by Bimal Roy it was celebrated as the first Indian film to win the International Prize at Cannes in 1954.
1954: Baadbaan directed by Phani Majumdar, it had a stellar star cast of Meena Kumari,Dev Anand, Ashok Kumar and Usha Kiran, it was the first ever film in India to have been produced by a workers’ cooperative. Film Chandni Chowk directed by B. R. Chopra in 1954 classic Muslim social drama film, it was Chopra's second directorial venture also a big success at the box-office.
1955: Azaad directed by Sriramulu Naidu S.M, Kumari pranced gaily with Robin Hood Dilip Kumar, it was the top grossing Hindi film in the year of its release and one of the biggest hit film in the decade. Hit songs from the movie include 'Aplam Chaplam' sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Usha Mangeshkar, and 'Na Bole Na Bole' sung by Lata Mangeshkar.
In 1956 her 3 films did silver jubilee,B R Chopra's Ek Hi Raasta,Bandhan with Pradip Kumar and Memsaab with Shammi Kapoor.Another film with kishore Kumar as Hero "Naya Andaj" was a musical hit with famous songs like "Meri neendon mein tum" sung by Kishore Kumar
1957: Film Sharada directed by L.V. Prasad was Meena Kumari first venture with Raj Kapoor for Meena Kumari it was a difficult role to essay and had been refused by all leading actesses of the day. The finesse which Meena vested in her role earned her the Best actress at Bengal Film Journalists' Association Award.The Film gained great critical success.The film was the ninth highest grossingfilm at the Indian Box Office in 1957 and noted as one of the best performances of Meena Kumari.Miss Mary a comedy film directed by L.V. Prasad Star Meena Kumari and Gemini Ganesan. The film was one of the biggest hits of that year.
1958: Sahara directed by Lekhraj Bhakri, Meena Kumari received a Filmfare Best Actress nomination for her performance. Film Yahudi directed by Bimal Roy. It starred Meena Kumari, Dilip Kumar,Sohrab Modi, Nazir Hussain, Nigar Sultana was a box office hit with famous song "Yeh Mera Diwanapan Hai" sung by Mukesh. Film Farishta starting Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari as lead protagonist. The film was above average. Film Savera directed by Satyen Bose with Meena Kumari and Ashok Kumar in lead roles.
1959: Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan directed and produced by Devendra Goel stars Meena Kumari with newcommer Rajendra Kumar and Honey Irani, the film was a huge hit on box office and Meena Kumari received a Filmfare nomination for Best Actress for her performance. Film Char Dil Char Rahen directed by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, with a star cast Meena Kumari, Raj Kapoor,Shammi Kapoor,Kumkum,Nimmi. The film received well reviews from Critics.
1960 saw Film Kohinoor directed by S U Sunny. The film stars Meena Kumari, Dilip Kumar, Leela Chitnis and Kumkum. This film is also notable for some rare comical and funny scenes by Meena Kumari, who is otherwise known as tragedy queen. Its tone was light and it lacked the intense characterisations of their earlier films.The film was one of the biggest Hindi film hit in the decade.
Another film Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai Hindi romantic drama written and directed by Kishore Sahu.The film stars Meena Kumari, Raaj Kumar and Nadira as leads,It is one of the noted acting performances of lead actress Meena Kumari's career.The music of this movie became so popular specially the song "Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh" sung by Lata Mangeshkar gave Shankar Jaikishan Filmfare Award inspite of the great music of Naushad in Mughal e Azam.
1961 was again good year for Meena Kumari ,her film Bhabhi Ki Chudiyan a family drama directed by Sadashiv J. Row Kavi with Meena Kumari and Balraj Sahni in the lead roles.It is one of the noted acting performances by Meena Kumari.The film was one of the highest-grossing film of the year at the Indian Box Office with the famous song "Jyoti Kalash Chhalke" by Lata Mangeshkar. Film Zindagi Aur Khwab directed S. Bannerjee Starting Meena Kumari and Rajendra Kumar.The film was a hit on Indian box office. Pyaar Ka Saagar directed by Devendra Goel with Meena Kumari and Rajendra Kumar.The film did above the average.
The year 1962 proved to be a watershed. Meena Kumari created history in Filmfare, and remains unique to this day, by being the sole leading lady to have been nominated at all slots for the FilmfareBest Actress award in 1963. The nominations were for her roles in Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, Aarti and Main Chup Rahungi. Kumari won her third best actress Filmfare for Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, which was conferred with three more awards, but her performances in the other two movies had equally impacted the audiences.
1963: Dil Ek Mandir directed by C. V. Sridhar. The film stars Meena Kumari, Rajendra Kumar, Raaj Kumar and Mehmood. The film's music is by Shankar Jaikishan. The film was a big hit on box office and so was the film music with famous songs " Ruk Jaa Raat Teher Ja Re Chanda " and " Hum Tere Pyar Mein sara Alam Kho Betai " sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Akeli Mat Jaiyo directed by Nandlal Jaswantlal a romantic comedy with Meena Kumari and Rajendra Kumar in leads. Kinare Kinare directed by Chetan Anand with Meena Kmari, Dev Anand, Chetan Anand.
1964 was not a good year for Meena Kumari she separated from her husband Kamaal Amrohi.Her film Sanjh Aur Savera a romantic drama film directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. starring Meena Kumari Guru Dutt and Mehmood did average business and other films like Benazir,,Main Bhi Ladki Hoon ,Chitralekha and Gazal were average,though Gazal had some beautiful ghazals specially "Rang Aur Noor Ki Baraat" performed by Mohammed Rafi and " Naghma O Sher Ki Saugaat" performed by Lata Mangeshkar were great hits.
1965: Kaajal directed by Ram Maheshwari. The film stars Meena Kumari, Dharmendra, Raaj Kumar, Padmini, Helen,Mehmood and Mumtaz. The film was declared as "Hit" on the Box office and was enlisted in Top 20 film of 1965 Meena Kumari won her fourth and last Filmfare for Kaajal. Bheegi Raat directed by Kalidas with Meena Kumari, Ashok Kumar and Pradeep Kumar. The film was one the biggest hits of the year with famous songs "Dil Jo Na Ke Saka" sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Mohd Rafi.Film Purnima directed by Narendra Suri starring Meena Kumari andDharmendra in lead roles.Film Jadui Angoothi directed by A.M. Khan With Meena Kumari, Chitra, Manher Desai, Kesari, Uma Khosla.
1966: Phool Aur Patthar directed by O. P. Ralhan starring Meena Kumari and Dharmendra in lead roles.This was the movie which went on to become a golden jubilee hit catapulting Dharmendra to stardom. The movie was highest grossing for the year 1966. Meena Kumari performance in the film ensured her a nomination in the Best Actress category in the Filmfare awards for that year.Film Pinjre Ke Panchhi directed by Salil Choudhury with Meena Kumari, Balraj Sahni and Mehmood in main roles.
In 1967 and 1968 some of the fims such as Majhli Didi , Bahu Begum, Noorjehan,Chandan Ka Palna ,Baharon Ki Manzil and Abhilasha were released.Only Baharon Ki Manzi was a hit,Manjhli Didi was critically aclaimed,Bahu Begum had hit music.The film has music by Roshan and lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi and is known for songs, "Hum Intezaar Karenge Tera Qayamat Tak", sung by Mohammad Rafi and Asha Bhonsle and "Duniya Kare Sawal To Hum" by Lata Mangeshkar.
Meena kumari fell ill in 1968,She was taken to London and Switzerland on June 1968 for treatment. After that she did few films and did character roles.Mere Apne the first directorial venture of Gulzar was one of them,Dushman directed by Dulal Guha The film stars Meena Kumari Rehman and Rajesh Khanna with Mumtaz in lead roles.The film became a "super-hit" at the box office.
In 1955 Meena Kumari and Kamal Amrohi were in South India and here Kamal Amrohi began outlining the plot of his next film with his wife Meena Kumari and decided that he would call it Pakeezah..He hoped to create a film which would be worthy of the love he felt for her as a women. Kamal declared that every line he wrote he had Meena in mind. The film went on the studio floors in 1964, but the shooting came to a standstill after their separation(never formally divorced ) in March 1964, when it was more than halfway complete.
On 16 March 1969, five years and twelve days after Kumari left her husband, Gravelly ill, Meena Kumari reported for work again on Pakeezah. Kamal Amrohi organized a great reception. He gave his wife a peda(sweet) as a peace offering, and made a documentary film on her arrival at the studio. Gravelly ill Meena Kumari was determined to complete the film and, was well aware of the limited time left for her to live, went out of her way to complete it at the earliest. Despite her rapidly deteriorating health, she gave the finishing touches to her performance.
Pakeezah released on 4 February 1972, with a grand premiere at Maratha Mandir theatre in central Mumbai. Meena Kumari arrived to attend the last premiere of her life.Three weeks after the release of Pakeezah, Meena Kumari became seriously ill, on 28 March 1972 she was admitted to St Elizabeth's Nursing Home.Meena Kumari died on Friday 31 March 1972 of liver cirrhosis at age 39.
Meena Kumari was also a talented poet under the pseudonym Naaz. Her poetry reveals a side of her personality that was rarely on display in her films. It proved that she was a much more sensitive and self-aware woman than her fans tend to realise.
Meena Kumari had no formal education, but she was quite well versed in Urdu and Hindi. She was an ardent reader. She also used to write poems in Urdu, many of which even got published. Her love for poetry also brought her closer to Gulzar.