Remembering Meena Kumari on her 45th death anniversary.
Meena Kumari (1 August 1933–31 March 1972), born Mahjabeen Bano, was an Indian film actress, singer and poet under the pseudonym “Naaz”.
Meena Kumari is also known as The Tragedy Queen of Indian cinema. Kumari is regarded as one of the greatest actresses to have appeared on the screens of Hindi cinema. During a career spanning 30 years from her childhood to her death, she starred in more than 90 films of variety of genres, many of which have achieved classic and cult status today such as Pakeezah, Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Mere Apne, Aarti, Baiju Bawra, Parineeta, Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai, Foot Path, Char Dil Char Rahen, Daera, Azaad, Miss Mary, Sharada, Dil Ek Mandir, Kaajal, Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan, Majhli Didi, Phool Aur Patthar, Bhabhi Ki Chudiyan, Yahudi, Halaku, Baadbaan and Kohinoor. Kumari was also a playback singer, as a child artist till 1945, later as an actress and as a heroine in Duniya Ek Sarai , Piya Ghar Aaja and Bichchade Balam.
Vinod Mehta (the biographer of Meena Kumari) was told by a director, “Even Dilip Kumar (the tragedy king) found it difficult to keep his calm in front of her.” Raaj Kumar would often forget his dialogues while working with Meena Kumari on set. Madhubala was also a fan of Meena Kumari and said, ‘She has the most unique voice. No other heroine has it.’ Satyajit Ray described Kumari as “undoubtedly an actress of the highest calibre”. Meena Kumari empathized greatly with Marilyn Monroe the fact that Marilyn’s husband, Arthur Miller, had some passing similarities to Meena’s husband Kamal Amrohi, made the identification closer. It is said throughout her life, Meena Kumari had a love–hate relationship with movies.
Meena Kumari won four Filmfare awards in the Best Actress category and was the first recipient of the inaugural 1st Filmfare 1954 best actress award for Baiju Bawra with a consecutive win in 2nd Filmfare 1955 for Parineeta. Kumari made history at the 10th Filmfare 1963 by receiving all of the nominations for Best Actress and won for her performance in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. On 13th Filmfare 1966 Kumari won her last best actress Filmfare award for Kaajal.
The greatest hallmark of Meena Kumari lied in her ability to depict the struggle of Indian women existing specially in the 50s and 60s, Kumari Onscreen Persona is described as a perfect example of real traditional Bharatiya Nari by the Indian film fraternity like Mohammed Zahur Khayyam and Javed Akhtar. Kumari gained a reputation for playing grief-stricken and tragic roles, and her performances have been praised and reminisced throughout the years. Like Kumari portrayed of Pakeezah under Kamal Amrohi’s direction became historical piece of document. In her performances, beauty, aristrocracy, tragedy, personality all blended into one. Her role as Chhoti Bahu, in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam is considered one of the best performances in Indian Cinema. Chhoti Bahu a role dangerously close to Kumari’s own tragic life, like the character of Chhoti Bahu, in real life Meena Kumari also became addicted to alcohol. Kumari life and prosperous career were marred by heavy drinking, troubled relationships, an ensuing deteriorating health, and her death from liver cirrhosis in 1972. Follow Bollywoodirect