While recounting the old glory and recalling the stalwarts of Hindi films, we conveniently forget a few names which should never be forgotten. The most glaring omission resulting from this amnesia is the name of the greatest actress Mumtaz. We also tend to forget that in her very first film, Khilona, with significant banner and role, she won the most coveted Filmfare award. She acted in more than 100 films in a career span of only 12 years, and there is not even a single film in which her performance can not be termed as excellent.
Many people may raise their eyebrows with cynicism, but would agree with me in their heart of their hearts. I fail to understand why we Indians are so hypocrite and cannot gather up sufficient courage to call spade a spade! I have been an ardent fan of Mumtaz for a very long time, and feel hurt every time a few names of the so-called great artists are tossed around, sans Mumtaz. I wonder who or what really decides the greatness or otherwise of an artist? Though some newcomer film stars had the courage, in the beginning, to quote her as one of their favourites, but later on they also forget, maybe because they are afraid that they will be ridiculed by those groups or sycophants who cannot be displeased. Quite a few actresses copied her and became famous too! A number of presently established actors and actresses rank her as their favourite.
To quote Vijay Anand, on directing her for Tere Mere Sapne, "Mumtaz was sensitive, quick to understand and translate every nuance I hinted at, onto the screen, but she was always Dara Singh's Heroine for public. Even Devsaab could not get over that image." Though Vijay Anand made the best choice for the sensitive character of the film, it seems that not only Dev Anand, but also none of us have been able to get over that image even now, and that is why we feel shy to put Mumtaz in the category of great actresses.