Anarkali Madhubala: She still rules the hearts

Anarkali Madhubala: She still rules the hearts

Anarkali Madhubala: She still rules the hearts

Madhubala was the name given to her by Devika Rani. Her original name was Mumtaz Jehan Begum Dahelvi. She was the daughter of an imperious father Ata Ullah Khan, who had forced her to act in films at the delicate age of eight years.

OUT OF the distance of several decades, I can still vividly recollect my first pilgrimage to the city of my dreams – Bombay (now Mumbai). Before embarking on that journey I had always lived like and anchorite, with two ambitions in heart: first – to make enough money in this Eldorado and come back to my snobbish and aristocratic home town and demand and command respect from those, who had dropped me down as unprosperous connection. Second, to visit the grave of the fairy of my dreams – Madhubala – a human being I loved as a kid, as a child, as a juvenile delinquent and as a mature young man.

Madhubala was the name given to her by Devika Rani – a legend unto herself. Her original name was Mumtaz Jehan Begum Dahelvi. She was the daughter of an imperious father Ata Ullah Khan, who had forced her to act in films at the delicate age of eight years.

She was born on Valentine Day, on February 14, 1937, and she died on February 23, 1968, just nine days after her birthday. Few days before her death she had asked her sister to bring the mirror. She was so shocked to see the face in mirror that she couldn’t speak coherently till she breathed her last. Her dominating and commanding father picked for her so many inconsequential films that it took longer than necessary to establish her as a serious actress again. His father for whatever reasons never liked Dilip Saheb.

“Mahal” was the film directed by legendary Kamal Amrohi that catapulted her to stardom. She had played the enigmatic role of the daughter of a gardener against super star Ashok Kumar. Before the release of the film, Kamal Amrohi’s advisers told him to punch out the song – ‘Ayega anewala’. They said it was meaningless and would confuse the viewers. Kamal refused to accept argument saying that Madhubala’s presence on the screen would clear all confusions. He was right as even today this song of Lata Mangeshkar remains one of the favourite of millions.

Her life was marked with disappointments. In 1951, she had met Dilip Kumar on the set of ‘Tarana’. She was 18 then. She fell in love with Dilip Kumar and sent her hair dresser with a billet doux (love letter) in Urdu along with a Red Rose asking him to accept it if he loved hem. The tragedy-king was amused and intrigued at the gesture and accepted the rose. The flame of this ill-fated romance kindled on for seven years and finally it was extinguished by her father in an ugly melodrama which bruised and wounded her till she entered her last resting place.

She was laid to bed with a heart disease. However, she carried her work in films despite her illness. She had a punctured heart valve and she often used to cough up blood on sets.
Eventually her illness forced her to end her career in ‘Jwala’.

She died but her magic lives on. Even after 40 years of her death she commands immense respect, love and adoration. Her posters are sold at premium price on the urban streets. People still visit the houses where her pictures are hung just to have a look at her oxygenated smile. The deep expression of her eyes and the curl of her lips still transport the viewer into the ethereal dream. I don’t know how much I would write if I have no constraint of space. I have seen all her 70 movies during my stay in Bombay and visited her grave like a Sajjadah Nasheen (one who takes care of the grave).

The only thing I forgot about her was the time I had spent when I had visited the grave of the Venus of Indian screen for the first time.

Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

More Posts

The death of a ‘Love Story’

The Cecil B. DeMille of Indian Cinema Kamal Amrohi along with Khayyam Saheb were going over and over again through the 200 stanzas submitted by the lyricist for now the famous lyric “Aarzoo kya hai ? Justuju kya hai ?” which could be unsuccessfully translated – “What does the desire mean ? What does the curiosity stand for ?” for their magnum opus “Razia Sultan”. Razia didn’t relish the idea of being a princess. She was confused. She wanted to be a commoner. She didn’t know exactly what she wanted from life? The poet had tried to express her feelings. Every critic worth his salt had hailed the film as ‘landmark’ and predicted that it would beat the records of “Mougl-e- Azam” beofre its release. The film miserably flopped. The language was too Persian zed; Hemma Malini together with Dharmendra failed to impress the movie goers with their acting talents and delivery of dialogues. The giants like Sohrab Modi were also wasted. The only saving grace was the songs of the film.

I’m not going through the sorry tale of “Razia Sultan.” I’m discussing here about the death of the normal ‘Love Story’ in Indian cinema. Why ‘Veer’ and ’Kite’ were not accepted the way it was expected ? Why the films that have happy endings get luke-warm receptions or fail at box office? No one talks about them when they come out the cinema halls. These are pot-boilers at best and never acquire the status of classics.

Either as a film-goers we are shorn off the faculty of appreciation or the presnt style heroic romance is not cut-out in this fast galloping life based on hard realities.

Love is sublime. Love means never having to say we’re sorry ! It has a unique place in our lives. Love stories assuage our evergreen aches for romance. We had nothing in common with the Prince Saleem of Moghl-e-Azam but he steals our sympathy when Anarkali was shown to be placed behind the bricks. Everyone finds a Saleem and a Devdas in himself hidden somewhere in the folds of his busy life. No heroin has garnered so much sympathy of masses than Madhubala when she was fettered into chains and pushed onto the floor of the prison. Love, sufferings and sacrifice are magnificent virtues which defy every conceivable adversity including death. Granted that naked sentiments are vulgar and garish but if expressed simply and sincerely, they are more effective and pass a message. Drugs, naked dances, stormy sex and free love dilute the sanctity and chastity of every delicate imagination. The film with cluttering of these attractions is left with little class and less authority. We have reached a point where a covered female body looks more attractive and graceful than a nymphet showing every possible asset.

For better or worse, most classic Indian Romances pivot round the tales of Leila-Majnoon, Heer-Ranjha, Soni-Mahiwal, Baaz Bahadur-Rani Rupmati and last but not the least Meera-Shyam. Bollywood had reminted and wringed the last drop of juice from these stories. Star crossed lovers born with different of antecedents and ending at the tragic crest leave a viewer with something to brood upon. The smiling and singing family picture at The End impress no one.

My question is – Is human nature more prone to savour the cruel pleasure of an unhappy ending ?

Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

More Posts