aaGaaz to hotaa hai a.njaam
jab merii kahaanii me.n vo
naam nahii.n hotaa
jab zulf kii kaalik me.n
ghul jaaye koii rahii
badanaam sahii lekin gumanaam
ha.Ns ha.Ns ke javaa.N dil
ke ham kyo.n na chune Tukare
har shaKhs kii qismat men
inaam nahiin hotaa
din Duube hai yaa Duubii
baaraat liye kishtii
saahil pe magar koii koharaam
Indeed there was no anjaam. She
continues to live on. She lived a long life although we may not see her
today. But she does live and will live. In her performances and her poetry.
Talk about Meena Kumari and what
reminds is a large mountain which can stand the test of time and still
delivering performance, beautiful, stable and constant. Meena Kumari was
highly respected due to her qualities of integrity, her agreeability and
her sweetness. She was a highly independent person with a rare quality
of presentation. Being a good person, she was highly respected and loved
by the people who came across and her encouragement is remembered by many.
Names given to her were Meena Kumari,
Manju and many others. She was born Mahjabeen in 1933 in Mumbai (then Bombay).
Her family then was made up of her father, her mother and her two elder
sisters. She was born in a muslim family.
Visibly tender, she was a strong
person and would not compromise on her own rules even if it meant death
and her life is full of examples of it. Highly idealistic, she even compromised
with what we call practical even today.
The deer eyed person with her own
hairstyle was one of the finest actresses and performers the Indian land
has produced. By deer eyed I mean the innocence reflected by her eyes.
She always looked beautiful in any role. She preferred trdaitional dresses
and had a difnified look. Her dignity would affect anyone who interacted.
In fact she was an encouragement in herself and just talking to her encourages
you. Such was the personality of Meena Kumari. She was equally expresive
in her happy roles, in pensive mood, in romantic and sad moods. She could
carry out all her roles with ease. Expression never lost her and
she did full justice to it.
Perhaps this was the effect of this
uncompromising personality that her performances are unforgettable even
The film star was also a great poet
and her works are published by Gulzar after her death who inherited them
after she passed away. She also recorded an album in her own voice.
Fact is that she was far ahead of
her time when it comes to the freedom of women. She could dare to live
freely in the 1950s and 60s when so many of our Bollywood stars are conservative
even today. She never doubted her drinking alcohol as she was driven by
her own rules and she never harmed anybody albeit helping many come up.
She decided to live her life alone when she was dumped by the nearest person
whom she depended upon and she never tried to run away from the miseries
given to her.
Meena Kumari tried to marry again
in later stages of her life but failed to gain proper emotional support.
Living alone and fighting the inconsistencies of the nearby people, she
died at an early age of 39 when she got very sick due to alcohol abuse.
She will always be remembered. Not
only as an actress, but also as a strong individual. And a good poet of
course. She lives and she will live. In her performances and her poetry.
LIFE OF MEENA KUMARI
It is very difficult to separate
the real life of Meena Kumari from the reel life as films have been very
close and apparently followed her since she started to just speak properly.
Fact is that she was in films and that is where she learnt her the ABCs
of it - at the age of six. And after that she never looked back - till
the end. It is known that she did not want to work in films and she did
not want to work even in her first film when she was just six but the question
raised by father was simple - "what else?" Life was dictated by poverty.
And she had to work. Talented as she was, she refined the art very much
and after Baiju Bawra, was a super star and she was perhaps one of the
topmost superstars. But the relation with films was a love hate one and
she could not come out of films nor she could fully assimilate the idea
though films liked her too much. She is probably one of the dearest of
all times to the film industry. Films saw every aspect of Meena Kumari.
They saw her young, they saw her growing, they saw her marry, they saw
her divorce, they saw her sorrows. They were her most faithful companions
which gave her name, fame, money as well as company. And Meena Kumari could
not do without them.
In 20s and 30s Prabhavati Devi,
Sundari Devi's daughter had to struggle again in life to finally settle
life with Ali Bux and earn a living by doing small drama and music in Mumbai.
He was a Pathan and Sunni Muslim. He married Prabhavati Devi and gave her
the name of Iqbal Begum. Ali Bux played harmonium and composed music for
films like shaahi lutere. He also did bit roles in films like id ka chand.They
were poor. They lived on small bits and pieces earned by him and Iqbal
Begum. Bombay had seen many many such fortune seekers earlier and would
witness much more in the future. Small timers who would do bit roles. Iqbal
begum (Prabhavati Devi) was a dancer and stage actress with a screen name
of Kaamni. The family could hardly earn the required bits and pieces for
The Ali Bux family used to live
next to Rooptara studios in Mumbai (then Bombay). Ali Bux was very hopeful
of getting a role in films in the Bombay film industry but it had never
In such conditions, this traveller
of time who was destined to make a mark, was born on 1 Aug, 1933 in Mumbai
(then Bombay) in a place called Dr Gadre's clinic. She was the third daughter
in a row in the family and times were very difficult for her parents. So
much was the problem that it is said that her father had to leave her in
an orphanege as that was a better option in many ways. Hours later he went
back to pick her up. In such conditions was this future star born and saw
the light of day. She was christened Mahzabeen.
Ali Bux left her in an orphanage.
He was frustated. But after a few hours passed, he went to pick her up.
This was 1932, 1 Aug. The new baby became the youngest among Khursheed,
Madhuri and Mahzabeen - the name given to her. Mahzabeen alias Meena Kumari
had started seeing the world.
In such poor conditions was this
family living that not much is known about their personal life in those
times. The family could somehow managed to meet the ends. In such conditions
Mahzabeen grew up and turned six when it was being discussed that she could
earn for the family. Fact is that Ali Bux was not ready for Mahzabeen to
work into films but Prabhavati Devi wanted it as a means of livelihood.
Finally it was decided that she would work.
Vijay Bhatt understood her talent
and liked her. She was selected for child actress role in the film Farzand-e-vatan.
Little baby Meena was not interested in working in films. She was simply
so little. She wanted to play and to go to school and learn like other
kids. She did not want to act and work. But she was asked to work in a
film. The film was renamed Leatherface later on.There was no escape. She
had to work with the cat in the film in a scene. Although afraid, she had
to do that role.
Mahzabeen had turned baby Meena.
This was the beginning of a phenomenon called Meena Kumari. She was baby
Meena in this Vijay Bhatt film. The same Vijay Bhatt would be her mentor
once again when she gets her big break in Baiju Bawra in 1952.
At age of six, in 1939, it was decided
that she would act in films, albeit againt her will and there was no other
option. "What else" was the question of her parents when they insisted
the six year old daughter to act in a film called Leatherface. Meena Kumari
became the bread earner of the family since this age and had seen the ugly
face of life early in life.
Till this time, she earned for the
family and always lived for them. She had a love hate relationship
with films which continued till her death.
Probably the seeds of making of
a tragedy queen were sown at this time. Sensitive as she was, a lost childhood
had started showing up. Childhood is the time when we learn and play. And
not a time when we are into serious life. Childhood is the time when we
take shape. We are definitely made up of our early years.
This phase of her life saw films
like Veer Ghatokach, Shri Ganesh Mahima etc. She also made fantasies like
Alladin and the Wonderful Lamp. This phase lasted until Baiju Bawra.
Although a good and dedicated performer,
she was not exactly into limelight. She was just an average actress. For
a period of 14 years since 1949. Her father was mainly her manager during
this period. During this period Meena Kumari has grown into a fully grown
young woman. She grew into a beautiful young lady. An unblemished beauty.
She had grown into a hard working and soft spoken person capable of taking
up great challenges.
Vijay bhatt, her mentor in Leatherface
came into picture again when he gave her a chance in the film Baiju Bawra
in 1950. Baiju Bawra was a musical love story where Gauri was the beloved.
Meena Kumari Played the role of Gauri very well. She played the character
of the woman dedicated to her lover. Meena Kumari Played the role very
well. The movie was a superhit. Her performance as a dedicated woman was
excellent and was loved by cinema goers. The role of Gauri was well played
by Meena Kumari. The movie won the filmfare awards best actress award that
Sensitive and cheerful Meena Kumari
fall in love after she met Kamal Amrohi on the sets of a film and she was
head over heels for her as she herself has written about Kamal Amrohi-
Dil saa jab saathi paya
Bechaini bhi woh saath le aaya.
Although he was 15 years older than
Meena Kumari, she liked him. Kamal Amrohi was married earlier too. Meena
decided to commit her life to him. The marriage took place very soon and
they went for ahoneymoon.
Honeymoon plans were for a film
that would be a love story reflecting the real life love story of Kamal
Amrohi and Meena Kumari. A film that would be an epic of love. The story
was conceived. Like a child was born.
And in such times she married Kamal
Amrohi. A time when she was a top star and time was very good. They had
a nice honeymoon, they planned and completed a film called daera which
one of Kamal Amrohi's only 4 films and they planned Pakeezah.
Nobody knew that Pakeezah would
complete in as long as 14 years.
By now, she became the woman representing
the suffering Indian woman of that time and she would represent the same
for years to come. Meena Kumari was a hallmark and a phenomenon of her
own kind. She became the magic word to make a film hit. There was no doubt
about the capability and dependability of the person who would put in high
quality hard work and guarantee the success of the film. She became a magnate
and a phenomenon in herself. Meena Kumari's performance was not dependent
upon the co star of the film but she would rather be the central character.
Any film with Meena Kumari in it makes her the central character. Such
was the power of Meena Kumari.
Perhaps the greatest challenge was
Sharda where she has done a highly unusual role successfully. A role that
she had dared to take up after there was no heroine ready to do the role.
An unconventional role, Sharda remains one of the best performances of
Meena Kumari. She could do justice to a difficult role. She was Raj Kapur's
lover turned step mother.
This role that nobody else dared,
Meena Kumari almost got another filmfare award. Filmfare awars she did
not get but the journalists best actress award she did get for this film.
The second challenge was Saheb Biwi
aur Gulam which became perhaps the best performance ever by any actress
in Hindi cinema. The performance of Meena Kumari in this film is simply
unforgettable and uncomparable.
Although everybody else liked every
body else, Meena Kumari and Kamal Amrohi started developing disparity and
the differences grew much larger as both of them were highly accomplished
and successful characters. She would not like any interference in her work
as she was an authority in herself. However, Kamal Amrohi was very much
upset at her habit of following her own rules and decisions. Relations
grew sour and sour.
In the meantime, the marriage with
Kamal Amrohi had turned sour that it resulted into separation and divorce
in 1964. This event shaped her personal life also. The once very happy
Meena Kumari turned into the epitome of tragedy in a short time when she
took refuge in alcohol (and poetry). She herself has expressed her sorrows
and miseries in many places and most importantly in her poetry which is
the best reflection of her feelings. The same person who wrote beautiful
poetry about Kamal Amrohi said-
Tum kya karoge sunkar mujhse
Beluft zindagi ke kisse hain pheeke pheeke!
And at the time of divorce she had
Talaak to de rahe ho
Jawani bhi meri lauta do
Life would never the same again
and she was probably the saddest person as she could not stabilize later
on in her life. It is known that Meena Kumari liked tragedy and wanted
to lose herself into it, which she did so often. She could cry at any moment
without any aids. We never know but probably she enjoyed it and wanted
to be just tragic, enjoying every moment of it and finally turned
her own life into a tragic story!
Probably she reflected the irony
of the conservative woman in the changing scenario. Perhaps she was not
at the right time as today's woman has more freedom. However, she was an
excellent person and an artist. A woman who keeps her promise silently
and keeps the traditional values in a moderm middle indian family - she
represented the difficult part the modern indian woman .who takes care
of the family And she also kept promise in real life and was reliable
and she did maintain values and principles. It is known that she
would keep her words and promises and would live according to her own rules.
Emotional that she was, she used
to write all her feelings in her poetry which was published by Gulzar later
In 1972 March, Meena Kumari was
extremely sick and on 30th March, she had to be admitted in hospital. She
was on oxygen and after 4 hours she required no more of it. She left mere
apne, Gulzar's directorial debut, half done, and she also left some
poetry in bits and pieces for Gulzar. She had completed Pakeezah which
went superhit at the same time. Alcohol was not required any more.
After 40 years, there was the same
day when there was no money left to pay for her hospital bills. Just like
when she was born in 1933, there was no money for the doctor.