Mumtaz was the only one who could have passed as the Marilyn Monroe of India; as she sported a sporty personality. They shared the same lazy sensuality, the sunny personality. While Monroe projected a certain hurt, Mumu was clearly a soul unburdened by the rejection she had faced at the beginning of her career. In the early sixties, Mumu went totally unnoticed. It was only when she gave a spate of hits with Dara Singh, that producers started queuing up to sign her for their films. Shashi, Feroz, Dharmendra, Amitabh walked in and out as her on-screen lovers, but it was with Rajesh that she struck gold as far as the box-office was concerned. Marriage to a London based businessman ended all her ambitions. A pity because Indian cinema lost out on an actress whose full potential had never been tapped!
From a C grade chorus girl to a seductive dancer to a saucy heroine, Mumtaz had finally arrived. Mumu and Shammi, Mumu and Jeetu, Mumu and Rajesh, and a much younger Yash Chopra too, were very soft on her then? When the affair between Mumtaz and Shammi was over, someone mentioned to her, sparkling and fresh in pink, that she looked like ‘Strawberry ice-cream’. In an instant, tears rolled down he chubby pug face. Apparently, lover boy used to call her that. Rising in the ranks, the pug-nosed Mumtaz and Rajesh made beautiful music on and off screen. While Jeetu kept his girl Shobha dangling for years while he vacillated from Mumtaz to Hema, Rajesh Khanna, the phenomenon and romantic to his finger tips, swept his shapely hands through the tresses of Mumtaz and Sharmila, while being steady with the hot and flighty Anju Mahendru.
• 50 Golden Years, Freedom Cinema, 1998, Cine Blitz