Madhubala, the eternal beauty of Cinema
Madhubala was a priceless gift to Bollywood. The moment anyone says Madhubala, it reminds of her million dollars smile and beautiful eyes. She gave many films in a very short tenure inspite of suffering from acute health issues. The simplicity and innocence in her looks and realistic performance were awe-inspiring for generations together. Her talent and beauty was a classic example of grace and elegance that is the rarely seen now. She supported her family till the end sacrificing herself the most. The decision whether correct or incorrect is meaningless now but truly Bollywood has to face irretrievable loss with her forever exit.
She was born on 14th February 1933 in New Delhi, India in a conservative Muslim family having 11 children where Madhubala was fifth child. She was named as Mumtaz Begum Jehan Dehlavi by her parents. Her father, Ataullah Khan was jobless after losing job at Imperial Tobacco Company in Peshawar and shifted from New Delhi to Mumbai. In order to support the large family came forward then the little girl Mumtaz. At the tender age of nine she started working in films as child artist.
Her first movie was ‘Basant’ released in 1947 in which she played the role of daughter of renowned actress Mumtaz Shanti. The film was a box-office hit. Then after she became part of many films and was growing very high on scale of popularity. Devika Rani, the actress was very much impressed by the little girl’s performance and was sure she would be highly successful artist in future. Devika Rani suggested her to change the name to Madhubala and she readily accepted it. Now Madhubala was in her teens and ready to take the lead in mainstream cinema. Hence began the new crucial chapter in the life of Madhubala.
At the delicate age of 14 Madhubala got her first break in Kidar Sharma’s ‘Neel Kamal’ opposite Raj Kapoor. The film didn’t do well but performance of Madhubala was very much appreciated. By the time she turned 16 she emerged to be the most gorgeous young lady with invaluable smile and magnetic expressive eyes. She scored very high points for her prime role in the movie Bombay Talkies in 1949 in Mahal. She was extremely talented and was offered role opposite all eminent actors. Her film plus the song ‘Aayega Aanewala’ was said to introduce two superstars in India- Madhubala and singing sensation Lata Mangeshkar.
Madhubala coughed blood in the year 1950 was diagnosed of heart problem. Further with medical investigation it was found she was born with a hole in heart, medically referred as ventricular septal defect. In those days heart surgery was not available easily. She kept it as a secret from the world and continued to work day and night in the movies.
She even attracted Hollywood producers and directors in early 1950s. Theatre Arts, the American Magazine featured one full page article on her in August 1952 issue under the most eye-catching heading: The Biggest Star in the World (And She’s Not in Beverly Hills). Around the same time Frank Capra, American Filmmaker came to India. He was elated to receive warm welcome and pampered utterly by Indian film fraternity. However, he was looking forward to meet Madhubala to discuss Hollywood project with her. Unfortunately, Madhubala could not take up the assignment because her father declined the offer. In this way father’s interference brought a forever end to the prospects of her working in Hollywood film.
Professionally, she was having tough time but personally love was besides her with Dilip Kumar. She truly loved Dilip Kumar. However, love blossomed and ended precisely during 1951-1956. True love didn’t have the happy ending because of the controversial court case between Madhubala and B. R. Chopra. Again, the actor’s father had a major role to play. Dilip Kumar supported the film producer and the father-daughter duo lost the case. Rest is history but the fact remained Madhubala and Dilip Kumar went in opposite directions ceaselessly.
She was the sole provider of the family hence inspite of suffering she took up all the film that came before her during 1950 – 1955. Hence, many of her films didn’t do well commercially and she was tagged as Box Office Poison. She came face to face with reality and realized her mistake. She again started and in 1958 she gave back-to-back hit movies namely Howrah Bridge, Phagun, Kalapani, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi and Barsaat Ki Raat. She fused all these success by 1960 and then came mega-budget epic release Mughal-e-Azam, which became the crowning glory for Madhubala, infact she was the only one to experience that sort of success till date. She gave her crucial 1951-1959 to the film and post 1956 after the bitter break-up with Dilip Kumar, both the actors being professional worked together to complete the film keeping their personal differences aside.
Madhubala found love again with Kishore Kumar when both were working together for Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958) plus Jhumroo (1961). The singer divorced his wife Ruma Guha Thakurta, actress and Bengali singer. Post divorce Kishore Kumar converted to Islam and married Madhubala in civil wedding as well as Hindu ceremony.
His parents were against the alliance hence were not part of the wedding and even didn’t accept Madhubala whole heartedly. She returned back to her bungalow within a month after marriage due to the unstoppable tension and disturbance at Kumar residence. They remained married for the world till her last breath.
She was really falling before her illness and then it was the time for treatment. She went to London for surgery. Doctors were not very hopeful and declined on doing the surgery. They advised her to rest as much as she can in order to live longer. She returned back to Mumbai and again back at work. She signed up film opposite Raj Kapoor and started shooting. Her illness forced her to back off from the acting and the film was incomplete and never released.
Next, she thought to take up directing and was to start her directorial debut venture in 1969. Unfortunately, it was never executed as she departed from life on 23 February 1969, soon after her 36th birthday. Finally, her family and Kishore Kumar laid her to rest eternally at Santa Cruz cemetery along with her precious diary. She lived for her family but in end she may have craved for her own family. Madhubala have left the world years before but she is going to be remembered for many years to come!