Madhubala

Those large dancing eyes, the lopsided and mischievous smile, the innocent looks………she is no doubt the most beautiful actress Hindi Film heroine ever. She started working at eight. Madhubala never experienced childhood and had to work in order to keep the household running. Father Ataullah Khan had a large brood of children and the family needed the money. As Baby Mumtaz, she was first seen as a child star in Bombay Talkies's Basant (1942).

Subsequently, she did a few unremarkable films as a child artiste, until Kidar Sharma cast her as a heroine in Neelkamal (1947) opposite another newcomer Raj Kapoor. However it was with the Bombay Talkies suspense thriller Mahal (1949) that Madhubala became a star. Aaega aanewala from the film remains her signature song till today! 1950’s was a major disappointment as most of the films she did flopped at the box office and she was declared as a “box office poison”.

Mehboob Khan's Amar opposite Dilip Kumar also flopped which left Madhubala with no hits at all. Though Madhubala’s performance was very good in the film and for the first time she gave a very mature performance, yet the audience didn’t like the movie. During the making of the film she also got romantically involved with Dilip Kumar but the couple soon broke off. She also came to be replaced by another actress in B R Chopra's Naya Daur (1957) and had to suffer an acrimonious court case.

She however bounced back with a string of hits in the 1958-60 period - Phagun (1958), Howrah Bridge (1958), Kala Pani (1958), Chalti ka Naam Gaadi (1958) - all among her more memorable films and of course Mughal-e-Azam (1960). Her song ‘Aaiye Mehrbaan’ is still remembered and she looked stunning as a club dancer. In Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi Madhubala displayed rare comic electricity and matched Kishore Kumar step by step in his madcap antics.

However it was Mughal-e-Azam that saw perhaps her greatest performance as the doomed courtesan Anarkali. By now Madhubala was diagnosed as having a hole in her heart yet she managed to keep it a secret from the industry. Despite being ill she never complained about a thing during the shooting of the film. She agreed to be shackled in real chains to bring authenticity to the scene. She also posed as a veiled statue in a heavy zari outfit for hours under the sweltering sun. And it all paid off when the film was released in 1960 and declared an instant classic.

However by now her condition was serious and she was advised not to exert herself by the doctors. She also plunged into a loveless marriage with Kishore Kumar and lingered on for nine years till her death in 1969. She did do few films like Passport (1961), Half Ticket (1962) and Sharabi (1964). She also tried making a comeback opposite Raj Kapoor in Chaalaak (1964) but collapsed on the sets on the very first day of shooting and the film was shelved. Finally, on February 23, 1969, within days of her birthday, Madhubala succumbed to a heart attack.

 
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