Madhubala- The Venus of Indian Cinema
Cinema goers and critics have been so dazzled by Madhubala’s looks that they often fail to appreciate her immense talent. She had a perfect sense of timing which made her click in lighter roles and she is one of the most beautiful actresses ever to grace Indian silver screen. She survived for a short span of time but kept her mark in the films she had acted in and glorified bollywood films of the 40s, 50s and 60s. A case in point is Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi where she dominates over the three Kumar brothers, Ashok, Kishore and Anoop. There was also a rare spontaneity about her which manifested itself in movies like ”Tarana” and, at the same time, intense poignancy which found expression in the role of the ill-fated Anarkali in ”Mughal-i-Azam”. In both these films she co-starred with the only man she loved, Dilip Kumar. But their romance was doomed like the one they portrayed in K. Asif’s magnum opus, ”Mughal-i-Azam”.
The 1933-born Madhubala started her career as Baby Mumtaz in ”Basant”, when she was merely eight years old.She impressed the film-lovers by creating suspense in her role of ghost in the film” Mahal” opposite Ashok Kumar, in 1947. Lata’s song “ayega anewala” composed by Khemchand Prakash gave Lata the identity which made her unparallel in the world of playback singing.Madhubala was well accepted by the audience as romantic pair opposite Dilip Kumar, and their film ”Tarana”, stormed the silver screen. She had played the role of a rich girl coming from an affluent family in the film ”Mr & Mrs 55”, opposite Guru Dutt. The film had melodious songs composed by OP Nayyar and ended up being a blockbuster. She also acted in films opposite Raj Kappoor including” Do Ustad”, and Dev Anand including musical hit ”Kala Pani”. Madhubala acted opposite all the giants of bollywood industry including Pradeep Kumar in the film ”Rajhath”, Shammi Kapoor in the film ”Boy Friend”, Sunil Dutt in the film ”Jwala” which is her last appearance in the films.
She had probably acted in one of her most romantic roles in ”Barsaat Ki Raat”opposite Bharat Bhushan in 1960. The music of the film composed by Roshan was extraordinary with songs like “zindagi bhar nahi bhulenge woh barsaat ki raat”, “yeh isq isq”, etc. Sahir Ludhiyanvi could write the classical lyrics due to the historical presence of Madhubala in the film. At the same time made the character ‘anarkali’ immortal by acting opposite Dilip Kumar, in the epic film” Mughal-i-azam”. K. Asif’s grand venture had left people speechless and recently being transformed into colored film due to public demand. The romance between Salim and Anarkali had classical dimension and reached the hearts of millions of film-lovers due to majestic performance of Madhubala and Dilip Kumar. Naushad’s superlative composition of music and Lata’s melodious songs “pyar kiya to darna kya”, “mohe panghat me nandlal”, became immortal. Madhubala had also contributed in comedy films opposite Kishor Kumar, including ”Chalti ka Naam Gadi”, ”Jhumru”, ”Half-ticket”, etc. ”Chalti-ka naam gadi” dealt with a story of motor mechanic who maintained an old car, which won him races and helped in catching criminals, etc. The songs in these films including “haal kaisa hai janaab ka”, “thandi hawa yeh chandni suhani”, “aankho mey hi tum hi tumho”, became evergreen hits. Madhubala had other successful films like” Howrah Bridge”, ”Phagun”, etc. Madhuri Dixit, one of the successful actresses of the 90s, initially impressed the film-lovers due to the fact that she had some resemblance with Madhubala. Madhubala’s screen presence had given her a separate identity among all the actresses of 50s and 60s, and she is still alive in her memorable roles that she played during the golden age of bollywood films.
Two of Madhubala’s qualities that were reflected in many of her deeds were honesty and dedication. In an industry where the top stars were almost always unpunctual, Madhubala reached the studios on time, sometimes even dragging her co-stars and producers with her. Once when Bombay was deluged with heavy rains, she reached the flooded studio early in the morning only to find the gates locked. “From the very start, this was an unusual young girl, whose rare sense of values and responsibility towards her commitments, whose discipline and devotion to work marked her apart. Madhubala’s innate sense of charity, which was not well known because she helped people and causes quietly. In 1950, when barely 17, she donated Rs 50,000, a colossal figure in those days, for the rehabilitation of refugees from what was then East Pakistan. She was generous in more sense than one and never forgot the people who stood by her in difficult moments. Her last film, was released when she was 27 and she died in 1969 when she was 36 from a congenital heart disease. Ironically, the surgical cure for a hole in the heart became a success shortly after her death.
Madhubala worked hard despite her failing health and paid a heavy price for it. Hastening her death was her marriage to the eccentric Kishore Kumar, whom she married on the rebound after the tragic end to her love affair with Yusuf Khan, the actor known to the world as Dilip Kumar. While he too wanted to marry Madhubala, her father played the villain role. Madhubala was the sole bread earner of a large family, which included her five sisters. Dilip Kumar, on the other hand, insisted on her giving up her film career. She was caught between two, her overprotective father, Ataullah Khan, and the love of her life, Yusuf Khan. Once, her biographer was informed by Om Prakash, in whose film Madhubala was working at that point, that Dilip Kumar visited her makeup room and said that a Qazi was waiting to perform the nikah. But there was no wedlock, there was only deadlock. Madhubala could not leave her family in the lurch. Commitment took precedence over love, much to the chagrin of her proposer.
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