It’s Madhubala’s birth anniversary today

Had she been alive, she would have turned 78 on Valentine’s Day today. Tragically enough, actor Madhubala died nine days after her 35th birthday, craving for true love and companionship from the men she had loved. Her youngest sister, 65-year-old Madhur Bhushan pledges to bring out her elder sister’s biography next year.

“I’m tired of reading fake stories about my sister’s life. Someone writes my father and sister were paupers. Someone else writes she was made to stand on streets, and sell water in pots in return for money. I want to put an end to all this, and chronicle my sister’s life the way it was. I’m looking for a writer. Also, I’m collecting everything I possibly can to put into the book,” says Madhur. “I’ll bring it out next year.”

She recalls recent articles written on her deceased sister and father, and admits she finds them in bad taste. “My father, a sixth-class pass Pathan, and father of 10 kids, came to Mumbai with a few rupees in his pocket. We were a poor but dignified family. We earned our living with odd jobs. And eventually, we rose to the status that we have today,” reminisces Madhur, adding, “Abba was protective of his daughters. He came to this city only because someone had assured him that Madhu aapa was talented enough to make it big in the movies. And after they died, people said that my father was a tyrant and my sister a beggar. What a shame!”

Madhur was the one who was with Madhubala during the last nine years of her life, when she was struggling with a heart ailment. The actor was told that she wouldn’t live for more than two years. At that point, she had just been married to singer-actor Kishore Kumar, who was crazily in love with her.

“Madhu aapa couldn’t believe what the doctors said because she had no symptoms. But, in about 18 months, she showed signs. Kishore left her at our home because he was too tied up to look after her,” she says with tears in her eyes. “My sister survived for nine years on her will power, every single day longing to be with Kishore. I spent most of my growing up years seeing her die, day by day. But in those last moments on February 23, I couldn’t even speak to her and that hounds me even today.”

The 65-year-old also recalls getting extra attention in school thanks to her sister’s stardom. “My classmates would give me their books to get her autographs,” Madhur says, adding, “She was a lively person and didn’t deserve to be left alone.”

The only time Madhur had been to her sister’s sets is when she was shooting for the Mughal-E-Azam (1960) song Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya…. “I had taken my school friends along. She ensured we were seated nicely and fed. It was a beautiful set but after a while, the retakes became boring for us, and we left,” she says, adding, “That was one of her last movies with Dilip Kumar, whom she had been in love with for nine years. Whatever transpired between them was sad. She had to leave him because he refused to apologise to my father. Eventually, she married someone she thought loved her. But even he left her alone when she needed him the most. In a 35-year-life, she craved for love and died waiting for it.”


  1. Author
    sputnik 12 years ago

    Happy Birthday Madhubala

    It’s ironic that one of the most beautiful artistes to ever charm the Indian screen, Mumtaz Jahan Begum Dehlavi or Madhubala, was born on Valentine’s Day, 79 years ago.

    Madhubala, the reigning queen of Bollywood’s romantic era, rose from a conservative Muslim family to become the most captivating star Indian film industry has ever produced. Starting at the tender age of nine, she got her first break in a lead role five years later in ‘Neel Kamal’ (1947). The film was produced and directed by her mentor, veteran filmmaker Kidar Sharma.

    Even though the actress passed away barely nine days after her 36th birthday, she left behind a long legacy.

    After her lead role in Bombay Talkies production ‘Mahal’ in 1949, Madhubala attained immense popularity.

    She starred in ‘Howrah Bridge’, followed by ‘Kalapani’ opposite Dev Anand, the perennial hit ‘Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi’ opposite her would-be-husband, Kishore Kumar and ‘Barsaat Ki Raat’, opposite Bharat Bhushan.

    One of her contemporaries, Dilip Kumar had once said, “Had she lived, and had she selected her films with more care, she would have been far superior to her contemporaries. Apart from being very versatile and an excellent artiste, she had a warm and cheerful nature. God had gifted her with so many things.”

    Hollywood was also fascinated by the gorgeous screen legend. She was featured in magazines like ‘Theatre Arts’ there.

    She had everything an actress would desire but her love life was in shambles.

    She married Kishore Kumar, but was left alone in her last few years, suffering from a heart illness. She succumbed to it after battling it for nine years, on Febuarary 23, 1969.

    In this short life, she starred in over 70 films and is till date, one of the most enduring legends of Indian cinema.’


  2. Author
    sputnik 12 years ago

    ‘When Mumtaz Ataullah Khan became famous as the celebrated Madhubala, a shower of superlatives constantly swirled down upon her — the Venus of the Indian screen, its definitive love goddess, the most beautiful heroine ever! She had that perfect blend of beauty and sensuality that worked on the audience like an elixir. But behind those dancing eyes and lopsided smile, lurked a lifetime of pain. Intractably interwined with loss, her life seemed to move inexorably towards its tragic finale.

    Born in abject poverty, the fifth of her Pathan father’s brood of 11 children, little Mumtaz enjoyed a brief stint as a child star in films like Basant (’42). At the close of the 40s, fate presented the 16-year-old with the super successful Mahal. Even as the plaintive refrain of `Aayega aanewala’ captivated the country, it heralded the arrival of a superstar. But personal heartbreaks lay ahead for Madhu. An early affair with Premnath crumbled when she embarked on her life’s greatest passion — Dilip Kumar. It was an agonizing affair that left both their souls singed with its intensity. However, it was not meant to be. Madhubala’s father ruled over her with an iron hand and she could not contend with his strident opposition.

    Suddenly her life began to disintegrate. Her films, even major ones like Mehboob Khan’s Amar, started flopping, acquiring for her the tag of ‘box office poison’. She was thrown out of B R Chopra’s Naya Daur after a scandalous court case, and worse — she was diagnosed as having a hole in her heart bringing her into immediate confrontation with her own mortality.

    But Madhu was a fighter. She single-handedly turned her career around with a string of hits like Phagun, Howrah Bridge, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, Kaala Paani and Barsaat Ki Raat (all in the ’58-’60 phase). Sultry glamour, fanned by the grace of humour, made this laughing apparition the quintessence of a movie star. Determined to exorcise the past, Madhu also plunged into a loveless marriage with Kishore Kumar.

    Her greatest moment, however, also turned out to be her saddest. In 1960, Mughal-e-Azam saw Madhubala scale the zenith of success. Eyes heavy with grief, she illuminated every shade of meaning in the classic riposte she makes when Dilip Kumar gives her thorns as her prize in the qawwali contest: `Kanton ko murjhane ka khauf nahin’ (Thorns are not fearful of withering away). It was as if she had a shimmering awareness of where her own options began — and ended. Mughal-e-Azam corralled in the audiences and showed off the finely- modulated depths of Madhubala’s creative ability, but her pain-wracked body forced her to sadly abbreviate her career. For nine long years, she lingered on, her blithe spirit chained to her bedposts. Death came as a release in 1969.

    Madhubala’s legend has grown since her demise, till it has reached awesome proportions today, boiling down to the truism that beauty spells the most enduring fame. Even through the small screen, she touches audiences at some visceral level, ensuring that there will be a special tug at the heart-strings whenever somebody mentions that magical word — Madhubala!’


  3. Shalu 12 years ago

    Sad to know that she had such a tragic life. Sometimes I feel that if she had grown old she wouldn’t have been remembered as the Venus as she is done today. Now she is young for eternity.

  4. Sudha Bhat 12 years ago

    Indeed MADHUBALA was a natural pristine beauty , unlike others.She is a real beauty! even the present Hindi actresses cannot beat her! Heart-breaking that such an adorable beauty had a prolonged and painful end/death at a young age of 36. GOD bless MADHUBALA

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