Meena Kumari Image
Meena Kumari
Meena Kumari
Meena Kumari

Meena Kumari and films

Important Films

Earlier Films

Post Baiju Bawra

After Parineeta


Saheb Biwi aur Ghulam
Baiju Bawra
Shardaa Pakeezah
Dil apna aur Preet Parayee
Dil ek mandir
List of all films
Cameras and flashlights - that is where little Mahjabeen learned ABCs of life at the age of six in 1939 when she worked in the film called Leatherface as Baby Meena. Films, therefore, was not her choice career and she had to work for the family which had financial problems.

Hence film world was where she learnt her the ABCs of life - with Mahesh Bhatt's Leatherface in 1939. The fortune and future of this star was not known - not even to Meena Kumari herself.

However, she was again offered role by Mahesh Bhatt again in Baiju Bawra. This time the role was that of a grown up beautiful lover called Gauri. The film was a super hit and she - a super star Meena Kumari was born. Baiju Bawra also brought her the maiden best actress filmfare award of India.

She repeated her performance in Baiju Bawra and kept her promise to the viewers in all her films which followed. And soon Meena Kumari was a superstar who always turned in good films.

Baiju Bawra onwards, her contributions to the Indian cinema are very important. After release of Baiju Bawra, she witnessed major changes in post 1947 Indian cinema and she existed at the time when the indian system saw major changes. It was the time when cinema was changing drastically. Baiju Bawra was perhaps one of the turning points in the Indian cinema and the film that brought her the first of the four filmfare awards she received.

Her roles included roles of many types which included light hearted to serious ones. And she could perform some outstanding roles which is admired even today which include Parineeta and the extraordinary role as Raj Kapur's lover turned mother in Shaarda. She, however, later on concentrated on serious roles and performaned excellent feats. Films saw her peak perhaps in Saheb. Biwi aur Ghulam where she has performed perhaps one of the greatest performances of Hindi cinema. And, most important, her films reflected her personal life where tragedy had found a new home in Meena Kumari. So striking was this phenomenon that some of her films reflect her own life. She herself has stated that she felt like the chhoti bahu of Saheb , Biwi aur Ghulam in real life.

Though she has projected tragedy like no one else this does not mean that she was not good at light hearted roles and fact is that she was excellent in her lighter movies as well and there are several examples of it. She could smile equally well and her smiles, though rare in her later films, are a sunshine. She is really radiant even her smiles. And even one smile in a film was sufficient for the viewer. Perhaps we can classify roughly half her movies as sad and that is what gave her more fame and recognition and she slowly and steadily changed into the famous "tragedy queen". So famous that today the name Meena Kumari and tragedy are synonymous in the Indian heart and mind.

The magic of Meena Kumari has been such that today every star wants to become Meena Kumari in her performances though she has been unique in her own style. Probably the synonym tragedy queen is not fully justified on her but one would rather say that she was excellent at tragedy roles and she was good at many many roles. That is what is Meena Kumari. That she did and chose tragedy roles gives us no right to give a new name to her and she would rather be the beautiful Meena Kumari who was a beautiful actress.
Though the relationship with films was a love hate one, it is very difficult to separate the real life of Meena Kumari due to the same fact as films have apparently "followed her" till her death and since she started to just speak properly. Her later life saw mixing the personal life with her tragic performances - a danerous feat and that is what makes Meena Kumari immortal and immortalized in films as she herself was her films.