Madhubala was an iconic actress in the history of Hindi cinema. She is still considered as one of the most beautiful actresses of all the time. Her name comes in every inspirational talk for aspiring actors and actresses. In the short life of hers, she achieved so much that people stay amazed. It was not even close to easy for her to achieve what she has. The success came from numerous blockbusters given by her. Madhubala was betrayed by life and that’s why she is called as ‘The Beauty with Tragedy’.
Madhubala was born Mumtaz Jehan Begum Dehlavi on 14th February 1933. Her childhood was disturbed as her family faced many sufferings. She lost five of her siblings to a fire explosion. Gloom shadowed over the family but still Mumtaz and her father circled the movie studios to find work. She landed a role of actress Mumtaz Shanti’s daughter in the movie ‘Basant’ when she was 9. She started with a blockbuster and ended with it. Her last film ‘Jwala’ was released in 1971.
Actress in Play
She acted in about 70 movies in her 2 decade career. She has enacted roles that some actress only dreamt of playing. Madhubala was Mumtaz until her film ‘Neel Kamal’ in 1947. After that her screen named changed to Madhubala on the suggestion of actress Devika Rani. The box office successes of her career are well known to everyone. They are still remembered on the account of Madhubala. The best films of her life are given below:
- Basant – It was released in 1942, her first film and was a hit.
- Phoolwari (1946)
- Neel Kamal – Released in 1947 was her first break. She played opposite to Raj Kapoor and left many actresses behind for the role
- Mahal – In 1949 was the film that got her stardom. It was the third largest hit on the box office.
- Badal (1951) – She played the archetypal fair lady due to her looks.
- Tarana (1951)
- Sangdil (1952) – This was a typical film where she was a traditional lady who followed the norms.
- Mr. & Mrs. 55 (1955) – This was a comic role of an heiress.
- Howrah Bridge (1958) – This is where she got an Anglo-Indian role of a singer opposite to Ashok Kumar
- Phagun (1958) – She appeared with another respected actor of that time, Bharat Bhushan
- Kala Pani (1958) – With the chocolate hero, Dev Anand
- Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958) – Opposite to Kishore Kumar
- Barsat Ki Raat (1960)
- Mughal-e-Azam (1960) – She played the famous character of Anarkali in this film. It released in 1960 and was a super-duper hit. Madhubala was nominated for a Filmfare in the Best Female Actress category for Mughal-e-Azam.
- Half Ticket (1962)
- Sharabi (1964)
- Jwala (1971) – This was her last film which was released after about 15 years from its shooting due to heavy editing in it.
Mughal-e-Azam made her a legend and was the peak of her career. She gave a performance that showcases her inner talent. Also she was the first Bollywood actress in Hollywood. She was featured in an American magazine ‘Theatre Arts’ where she was portrayed as a ‘Super Star’ and written about her fandom. She was offered a role in a Hollywood film but due to her father’s disapproval, she denied it.
The Beginning of the End
Madhubala was a beautiful woman and innocent at heart. She started working at a small age. The actress found her first love in the actor Dilip Kumar. They met on the sets of ‘Jwar Bhata’ in 1944. The affair began after they were co-stars in the film ‘Tarana’. They were an iconic pair and the whole film industry was shipping them.
It was when they were going to get married the problems started. Firstly Madhubala was not approved to marry Dilip. Later when her father gave allowance for the marriage, the controversy of Ataullah Khan with Dilip Kumar started. The couple’s happiness was tainted by the greedy moves of Madhubala’s father. The relationship started fading and finally they parted ways in the early 1950s.
She met Kishore Kumar during the shooting of ‘Dhake Ki Malmal’ in 1956. They didn’t develop a really deep bond though got married hurriedly in 1960s. It was also when Madhubala started getting ill. It was discovered that she had a ventricular septal defect. It is a serious illness. This was a primary reason for Kishore Kumar to deflect from her. Because of the disease, she was not in a fine state and had fights with her husband. They stayed married until she died at a young age of 36 in 1969.
Shining Star in the Universe of Film Industry
It was a moment of gloom for the whole industry on the loss of this brilliant actress. Till the date the actress is remembered soulfully by Bollywood. Her legacy remains with many articles and posters of hers in demand. Every year on her birthday, her movies are aired. ‘Half Ticket’ was released again with a remake of a few things. Mughal-e-Azam was also released again in its coloured version on her 35th death anniversary. For many she is still a mystery as no one is sure of what exactly happened in her later life. Madame Tussauds made a statue in her role of Anarkali as a tribute to Madhubala in 2017.
With a name of Honey Belle and birthday of love, she was an incredible actress who faced both greatness and grave despair.
Written By: Rituparna Desai