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Madhubala biography, life story, career & more

Madhubala wikipedia, the life of Madhubala

  • Aman Dutta
    Aman Duttawrote on Jul 8 2009 5:25PM

    Mumtaz Begum Jehan Dehlavi, famously known as Madhubala, was born in Delhi, India on February 14, 1933. She was Muslim, the fifth child of a conservative Pashtun (Afghan) family of eleven children.
    After Madhubala's father, Ataullah Khan lost his job at the Imperial Tobacco Company, the family endured many hardships including the deaths of four of Madhubala's sisters and her two brothers. Madhubala and four other sisters remained. In search of a better life for his impoverished family, her father relocated them to Mumbai. There they struggled for over a year and often frequented the Mumbai film studios in search of work. Young Mumtaz entered films at the age of nine.
    Her first film was the box-office success, Basant (1942) [1] in which she played the daughter of the popular actress, Mumtaz Shanti. She then went on to act in several films as a child artist. It was the celebrated actress, Devika Rani, impressed by her performances and potential, who advised her to change her name to Madhubala [2]. Her talent was clearly evident and she soon garnered a reputation as a reliable and professional performer. By the time she was an adolescent, her uncommon good looks and tall, lissome figure, meant she was already being groomed for lead roles.
    Her first break came when filmmaker, Kidar Sharma cast her opposite Raj Kapoor in Neel Kamal (1947). [3]Until that point, she had always been billed as Mumtaz but after this film she was credited as Madhubala. She was only fourteen years old, but Madhubala had finally arrived on the Indian screen in a lead role. Though the film was not a commercial success, she was noticed and her performance well received.
    In the next two years she blossomed into a captivating beauty (film media and fans referred to her as the Venus of the Screen). However it was not until she starred in the coveted lead role of Bombay Talkies production, Mahal in 1949, that Madhubala became a fully fledged star and a household name. Audiences enthused over Madhubala's enigmatic screen presence and beauty. Though she was only sixteen at the time, critics widley acknowledged that her subtle and skillful performance upstaged her seasoned co-star, Ashok Kumar. The film became a popular success and the song Aayega Aanewala heralded the arrival of two new superstars both Madhubala and playback singer Lata Mangeshkar.
    Madhubala's heart problem was discovered in 1950 after she frequently coughed up blood on the sets. She was born with a cardiac defect commonly known as a "hole in the heart". At the time, heart surgery was not widely available.
    Her illness was kept a secret from the industry for many years, though one incident was widely reported by the film media in 1954. Madhubala was filming in Madras for S.S. Vassan's film Bahut Din Huwe. She became very ill and vomited blood on the set. Vassan and his wife were very hospitable and cared for her until she was well again. Madhubala was extremely grateful and as a result broke her own rule of never attending film premieres, even her own, by making an exception for Bahut Din Huwe (1954) and the following year, another Vassan production, Insaniyat (1955). The incident in Madras was down-played and soon forgotten, enabling Madhubala to continue working and to establish herself as an A-grade star.
    As a result, Madhubala's family was extremely protective. When filming at the studios, she would only eat home prepared food and drink water that came from a specific well in an attempt to minimize risks of illness or infection. Eventually her condition would take its toll and abbreviate her life and career, but for most of the 1950s, Madhubala performed successfully despite her illness and physical limitations.
    In the early 1950s as Madhubala became one of the most sought-after actresses in India, she also attracted interest from Hollywood. She appeared in many American magazines such as Theatre Arts. In their August 1952 issue, Madhubala was featured in an extensive article with a full page photo. The piece was entitled: The Biggest Star in the World (And She's Not in Beverly Hills). It presented the actress as a mysterious and ethereal woman of mythical beauty with a legion of fans.
    During this period, on a trip to Mumbai and its film studios, the American filmmaker Frank Capra was pampered and hosted by the elite of the Hindi movie industry. However the one star he really wanted to meet was conspicuous by her absence, Madhubala. A meeting to discuss an opening for Madhubala in Hollywood was proposed by Capra. Madhubala's father declined and put an emphatic end to her potential Hollywood film career.
    Madhubala had many successful films following Mahal. With pressure to secure herself and her family financially, she acted in as many as twenty-four films in the first four years of her adult career. Consequently, critics of the time commented that Madhubala's beauty was greater than her acting ability. This was in part due to careless choices in film roles. As sole support of her family, she accepted work in any film, causing her credibility as a dramatic actress to be seriously compromised. Something she later expressed regret over.
    She did have aspirations to appear in more prestigious films with challenging roles. Bimal Roy's Biraj Bahu (1954) being a case in point. Madhubala having read the novel, was desperate to secure the lead in the film adaptation. Assuming she would command her market price (one of the highest), Bimal Roy passed her over in favour of a then, struggling Kamini Kaushal. When Madhubala learned that this was a factor in her losing the part, she lamented the fact that she would have performed in the film for a fee of one rupee. Such was her desire to improve her image as a serious actress.
    As a star, Madhubala did ascend to the top of the industry. Her co-stars at the time were the most poular of the period: Ashok Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Rehman, Pradeep Kumar, Shammi Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Sunil Dutt and Dev Anand. Madhubala also appeared alongside many notable leading ladies of the time including Kamini Kaushal, Suraiya, Geeta Bali, Nalini Jaywant and Nimmi. The directors she worked with were amongst the most prolific and respected: Mehboob Khan (Amar), Guru Dutt (Mr. & Mrs. '55), Kamal Amrohi (Mahal) and K. Asif (Mughal-e-Azam) . She also ventured into production and made the film Naata (1955) which she also acted in.
    During the 1950s, Madhubala proved herself a versatile performer in starring roles, in almost every genre of film being made at the time. She was the archetypal lady fair in the popular swashbuckler, Badal (1951) and was next seen as an uninhibitted village belle in Tarana (1951). She was convincing as the traditional ideal of Indian womanhood in Sangdil (1952) and was well received in a comic performance as the spoilt heiress, Anita in Guru Dutt's classic satire Mr. & Mrs. '55 (1955). In 1956 she had success in historical costume dramas such as Shirin-F


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