REAL PERFORMER AND THE PERSON
The first response of Meena Kumari to working in films was "I don't
want to work in films. I want to go to school,". But life wanted that
she worked for films. She never liked films. But films always liked her
since 6 years of age.
Meena Kumari, once walked out of a dilip kumar film Amar
just because she didn't have time. For a heroine to
actually walk out on Dilip Kumar was a daring act at that time but she
lived on code made by herself and she did walk out of this film.
She did similar fete when she did a bathing scene in footpath against
her husband's will.
During the shooting of Baiju Bawra, for the shooting of the
song Tu Ganga ki Mauj,
Meena Kumari was alone in a boat and from the shore and the camera. She
wasn't looking at the direction she was going in, suddenly unit hands
started shouting, but she couldn't hear them. She was excitedly rowing
the boat, unaware of the fact that she was at the edge of a waterfall.
A couple of unit hands who could swim, jumped into the water and
started swimming towards her, luckily her boat was stopped by some
boulders from going over. By then one of the unit hands had been able
to reach her boat, and climb aboard. Only then she realized just how
close to death she had come.
After receiving the Filmfare award for Kaajal from President
Radhakrishnan, she had dined with him and conversed at length with him
in her faltering English. Meena was very excited upon receiving a
letter from the Pesident within a week of their meeting. She
immediately wrote back to him, and didn't let anyone correct her
language in the letter, as she had wanted him to know that she had
written the letter on her own.
The actress was also awed when she was looking out for a bungalow and
found that the one suited her requirements was inhabited by Mahatma
Gandhi in 1930. She was so excited by this that she made it a point to
find out from the old gardner, where Bapuji used to sit, where he kept
his charkha, where he used to meet his visitors and hold
evening prayers etc.
She was unwell even while the film was being shot. Meena Kumari rushed
out of the sets and started crying when she couldn't dance on Thare
rahiyo o banke yaar ve. "I can't do it... it is too late." Kamal
Amrohi got Padma Khanna to do the song in place of Meena Kumari but of
course in a ghunghat.
Meena Kumari had a chat with Padma before the picturisation. The
perfectionist that she was, she wanted Padma to walk like her in the
music pieces. Padma had to practise for hours before she got the nod
from Meena Kumari.
Her first role was as a child-artiste in Farzand-e-Watan
(renamed Leather Face) by Vijay Bhatt of Prakash Studios. Her first
ever scene didn't have lines. There was a scene in which a cat was
supposed to lick her cheeks. She was terrified but the cat's tongue was
less terrifying than the whip lashing words of her mother.