KUMARI - THE SADNESS
Zindagi to bewafa hai - ek din thukraegi.
Maut mehbooba hai apne saath lekar jayegi.
(Life is a betrayer and will betray. (But) death is (my) beloved and
will take me one day.
"I do not want to work in films"
was the statement of a small six year old kid in 1939 when she was
asked to work in film Leatherface as a child actress at the age of six.
But she finally did work in the film that she was asked, rather forced,
to perform. However, it was also the need of time as the family had
The other aspect is that little Mahjabeen was one of those
serious and sensitive kids who cry when hurt.
However, the real tragedy begins at the point of birth when she was
left in an
orphanage right after birth as she was the third daughter in
succession. Though, the same daughter would feed the family very well
one day and start a depressed eventless life as the child actress Baby
in 1939 in the Mahesh Bhatt film. Eventless is not the right word but
the events were biased away from her. She, as if responding to it, went
for an eventless life later on by transforming her personal life into
films, the only thing possible for this failed life - the performance.
She never went to the school to learn and that remained one of her
desires till the end - she wanted to learn the English language and her
Radhakrishnan letter is a famous instance of her life. She did learn
urdu, was a good poet and managed to learn broken English. The optimism
was there but the thorns were more important to her then flowers.
The roles done by her also were generally serious though she was good
at witty and humorous roles as well.
Perhaps this was a child who needed care and not bitter life. Some
breathing space and not tight schedules. The seriousness was enhanced
by her childhood sorrows and was clearly visible in her film roles done
after Parineeta. Sunshines were far in between and a gloomy and serious
face was what she mastered and even better mastered was tears.
Idealism and perfectionism was another side of her and her inside was
perhaps not accepting to the real life drama. She would give away when
there was a dispute and she would not then even raise her voice. The
next moment you will find an encouraging and simple Meena Kumari. But
then the only thing she got was popularity and money. To be added to
her sorrows was her divorce that came in 1964 - one of the classic
failed marriages. Two
people, who were crazy for each other in the beginning were again crazy
in the end - this time for separation. Divorce was Kamal
Later years saw her at the top with popularity and money but nights
were lonely. There was an escape - alcohol which dulled her evenings
and she was lost. She drank so much that it was difficult for her to
know what was happening around her. In the end, this only fuelled her
sorrows and flow of tears.
But then it would also give a more refined portrayal of her characters
and made successful Sahib, Biwi aur Gulam where she even identified
herself with the character of "chhoti bahu" in this film. The same
phenomenon refined her in Pakeezah, the immortal film and many many
other films some of which are filmfare award winners.
The increasing alcohol intake took toll on her health and she was flown
to London for treatment where she stayed for some time. After coming
back, she worked for some more time but with even more alcohol! She
finished Pakeezah and left after it. The film was finished at a stage
when she needed a double for even moving herself.