Madhubala (14 February 1933 – 23 February 1969), born Mumtaz Jahan Dehlavi, was an Indian Bollywood actress who appeared in film classics Mahal (1949), Mr. & Mrs. '55 (1955), Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958) and Mughal-e-Azam (1960). She was active between 1949 and 1960, after which illness shortened her career. With her contemporaries Nargis and Meena Kumari she is regarded as one of the influential Hindi movie actresses.
Madhubala was born Mumtaz Jahan Begum Dehlavi in New Delhi, on 14 February 1933, to Muslim parents of Pathan descent, and was the fifth of eleven children. The family lived in Delhi. According to her sister, Madhur Bhushan, she was born a blue baby, which would later have implications on her health.
After Madhubala's father, Ataullah Khan, lost his job at the Imperial Tobacco Company in Delhi, he relocated his family to Mumbai. Madhubala's three sisters and two brothers died when at the age of five and six, and with his six remaining daughters to provide for, Khan, and the young Madhubala, began to pay frequent visits to Bombay film studios to look for work. At the age of 9 this was Madhubala's introduction to the movie industry, which would provide financial help to her family.
Madhubala in the 1949 Hindi film Mahal.
Madhubala's first movie, Basant (1942), was a box-office success. She acted as the daughter to a mother played by actress Mumtaz Shanti. As a child actress she went on to play in several movies. Actress Devika Rani was impressed by her performance and potential, and advised her to assume the screen name 'Madhubala', meaning 'a woman of honey'. Madhubala achieved a reputation as a reliable professional performer, and by adolescence she was being groomed for lead roles.
Her lead role break, at 14-years-old, was with producer Kidar Sharma when he cast her opposite Raj Kapoor in Neel Kamal (1947). The film was not a commercial success but her performance was well received. This was the last film in which she was credited as Mumtaz before assuming her screen name 'Madhubala'.
She achieved popularity in 1949 when she was cast as the lead in Bombay Talkies studio's Mahal – a role intended for well-known star Suraiya. Madhubala, with established actresses, screen-tested for the role before she was selected by the film's director Kamal Amrohi. Following the film's release audiences and critics appreciated her screen presence, and her performance was seen to have upstaged her experienced co-star Ashok Kumar. The film was the third largest hit at the 1949 Indian box office. One of its songs, Aayega Aanewala, was sung by playback singer Lata Mangeshkar and lip synced by Madhubala.
Following the success of Mahal, Madhubala appeared in the box office hits Dulari (1949), Beqasoor (1950), Tarana (1951) and Badal (1951). These films placed her among the most bankable and prolific actresses of the early 1950s alongside established contemporaries Kamini Kaushal, Suraiya and Nargis.
Madhubala was found to have a heart condition in 1950; she had been born with a ventricular septal defect, or 'hole in the heart'.
She hid her illness from the film industry but in 1954, while filming in Madras for S. S. Vasan's Bahut Din Huwe, she vomited blood on set. She was cared for by Vasan and his wife until she recovered. Because of her illness Madhubala's family provided her with home-prepared food and drinking water from a particular well, to minimize risk of infection.
In spite of her medical condition she continued to work throughout the 1950s.
In the early 1950s, as Madhubala became one of the most sought-after actresses in India, she attracted interest from Hollywood. She appeared in the American magazine Theatre Arts where, in its August 1952 issue, she was featured in an article with a full page photograph under the title: "The Biggest Star in the World - and she's not in Beverly Hills".At this time, on a trip to Mumbai and its film studios hosted by the Hindi film industry, the American filmmaker Frank Capra wanted to meet Madhubala to discuss an opening for her in Hollywood, however, Madhubala's father declined his proposal.
Following Mahal, and during the first four years of her acting career, she played in up to twenty-four films. To secure for herself and her family financially, she accepted work on any film offered, causing her credibility as a dramatic actress to be compromised, something she later regretted. This indiscriminate choice of film role led critics to comment that her beauty was greater than her acting ability. Her contemporary, actress Nadira, said: "She was ecstatically, exasperatingly beautiful" and "She created a kind of reverence, she had such an aura about her."
She had aspirations to appear in more prestigious films with challenging roles, such as Bimal Roy's Biraj Bahu (1954). Having read the novel she was keen to secure the lead in the film adaptation. Assuming that she would command her high market price, Bimal Roy decided to cast Kamini Kaushal. When Madhubala learned that her fee in part lost her the role, she stated that she would have acted for one rupee.
Madhubala's co-stars Ashok Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Rehman, Pradeep Kumar, Shammi Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Sunil Dutt and Dev Anand were the most popular of the period. She appeared with Kamini Kaushal, Suraiya, Geeta Bali, Nalini Jaywant, Shyama and Nimmi, notable leading ladies. The directors she worked with, Mehboob Khan (Amar), Guru Dutt (Mr. & Mrs. '55), Kamal Amrohi (Mahal) and K. Asif (Mughal-e-Azam), were amongst the most prolific and respected. Madhubala also became a producer with the film Naata (1955), in which she also acted.
During the 1950s, Madhubala took starring roles in almost every genre of film being made at the time. Her 1950 film Hanste Aansoo was the first ever Hindi film to get an "A" – adults only – rating from the Central Board of Film Certification. She was the archetypal fair lady in the swashbuckler Badal (1951), and following this, an uninhibited village beauty in Tarana (1951). She played the traditional ideal of Indian womanhood in Sangdil (1952), and produced a comic performance as the spoilt heiress, Anita, in Guru Dutt's satire Mr. & Mrs. '55 (1955). In 1956 she acted in costume dramas such as Shirin-Farhad and Raj-Hath, and played a double role in the social drama Kal Hamara Hai (1959), where she became the cigarette-smoking dancer Bella, and her more conventional and saintly sister Madhu.
In the mid-1950s her films, even in the major movie Mehboob Khan's Amar (1954), were so commercially unsuccessful that she was labelled "Box Office Poison". However, in 1958, she was associated with six box office hits. In Howrah Bridge, opposite Ashok Kumar, she played the role of an Anglo-Indian Cabaret singer involved in Calcutta's Chinatown underworld. In Aaiye Meherebaan she lip-synced a torch song dubbed by Asha Bhosle. She played opposite Bharat Bhushan in Phagun; Dev Anand in Kala Pani; Kishore Kumar in Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi; and Bushan in Barsaat Ki Raat (1960). In 1960 she appeared in the historic epic Mughal-e-Azam.
Madhubala made over seventy films from 1947 to 1964, only fifteen of which were box office successes. Despite this she remained in demand as an actress with producers and directors. Frequent co-star Dilip Kumar said: "She was extremely popular, and I think, the only star for whom people thronged outside the gates. Very often when shooting was over, there would be a vast crowd standing at the gates just to have a look at Madhu... It wasn't so for anyone else."
It was the film Mughal-e-Azam that marked what many consider to be her greatest and definitive characterization, as the doomed courtesan Anarkali. Director K. Asif, unaware of the extent of Madhubala's illness, required long shooting schedules that made physical demands on her, whether it was posing as a veiled statue in suffocating make-up for hours under the studio lights or being shackled with heavy chains. From 1951 to 1959 Madhubala invested her best efforts into Mughal-e-Azam. From 1956, and her separation from Dilip Kumar, the film's remaining intimate romantic scenes were filmed under tension and strain between Madhubala and her now estranged co-star. This emotionally and physically taxing experience is perceived as a major factor in her subsequent decline in health and premature death.
Mughal-e-Azam released on 5 August 1960, and became the biggest grossing film at that time, a record that went unbroken for 15 years until the release of the film Sholay in 1975. It still ranks second in the list of all time box-office hits of Indian cinema. Despite performing alongside the most respected acting talent of the industry, Prithviraj Kapoor, Durga Khote, and Dilip Kumar, critics recognised and appreciated Madhubala's performance. She received some recognition as a serious actress when she was nominated for a Filmfare Award. However she did not win, losing out to Bina Rai for her performance in the film Ghunghat (1960). In Khatija Akbar's biography on Madhubala, Dilip Kumar paid tribute to her talent: "Had she lived, and had she selected her films with more care, she would have been far superior to her contemporaries. Apart from being an excellent artiste and very versatile, she had a cheerful nature. God had gifted her with so many things..."
In 1960 Madhubala was at the peak of her career and popularity with the release of back-to-back blockbusters Mughal-e-Azam and Barsaat Ki Raat. She was offered strong author-backed roles, but her deteriorating health did not permit her to enjoy this period and develop as an actress. Subsequently Madhubala became so ill that she could not accept any new films or even complete her existing assignments. According to khatija Akbar's biography, her frequent co-star Dev Anand recalled: "She was very robust, full of life and energy. One could never conceive that she was ill. She enjoyed her work, she was always laughing. Then out of the Blue, one day she had disappeared(...)".
She did have intermittent releases in the early 1960s. Some of these, like Jhumroo (1961), Half Ticket (1962) and Sharabi (1964), performed above average at the box-office. However, most of her other films released during this time were marred by her absence and subsequent lack of completion through illness. These films suffer from compromised editing, and in some cases the use of "doubles" in an attempt to patch-in scenes that Madhubala was unable to shoot. Her last released film Jwala, although filmed in the late 1950s, was not issued until 1971, two years after her death.
Personal life and controversies
Madhubala is said to have had several relationships, according to journalist Mohan Deep's biography. Her most public relationship was with actor Dilip Kumar.
Kumar and Madhubala first met on the set of Jwar Bhata (1944), and worked together again on the film Har Singaar (1949), which was shelved. Their relationship began two years later during the filming of Tarana (1951). They became a romantic pair appearing in a total of four films together. Actor Shammi Kapoor, in a recorded interview, described how Kumar used to meet Madhubala by arriving late on the set of a film that she and Kapoor were filming together. He would enter Kapoor's room, knock on the door between his and Madhubala's room and spend nights with her.
Madhubala was known for never making public appearances, with the exception of the premiere for the film Bahut Din Huwe in 1954, and she rarely gave interviews. Tabloids speculated over her personal life and romantic liaisons and Kumar was repeatedly mentioned. These rumours were confirmed by a rare public appearance during their courtship in 1955. Madhubala was escorted by Kumar for the premier of his film Insaniyat (1955), a film with which she had no association. This might have been a gesture of gratitude to the producer and director S. S. Vasan, who had cared for her earlier when she had taken ill during the filming of Bahut Din Huwe (1954).
Madhubala's romance with Kumar lasted for five years between 1951 and 1956. Their association was ended following a court case. B.R. Chopra, the director of the film in which Madhubala and Kumar were currently starring, Naya Daur (1957), wanted the unit to travel to Bhopal for extended outdoor shooting. Ataullah Khan objected, stating that the entire Bhopal schedule was a ruse to give Kumar the opportunity to romance his daughter. Chopra sued Madhubala for the cash advance she received for the film she had now no intention of completing. He replaced her with South Indian actress Vyjayanthimala. Madhubala supported her father despite her commitment to Kumar, and Kumar testified against Madhubala and Ataullah Khan in court in favour of Chopra. Madhubala and her father lost the case amid negative publicity. Until that point Madhubala had worked to gain a reputation as a reliable and professional performer, however, her image was damaged.
The reason Madhubala broke up with Dilip Kumar was B R Chopra's film Naya Daur, not my father. Madhubala had shot a part of the film when the makers decided to go for an outdoor shoot to Gwalior. The place was known for dacoits, so my father asked them to change the location. They disagreed because they wanted a hilly terrain. So my father asked her to quit the film. He was ready to pay the deficit. Chopra asked Dilip Kumar for help. Dilipsaab and Madhubala were engaged then. Dilipsaab tried to mediate but Madhubala refused to disobey her father. Chopra's production filed a case against her, which went on for a year. But this did not spoil their relationship. Dilipsaab told her to forget movies and get married to him. She said she would marry him, provided he apologised to her father. He refused, so Madhubala left him. That one 'sorry' could have changed her life. She loved Dilipsaab till the day she died.
She met her husband, actor and playback singer Kishore Kumar, during the filming of Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958). At the time he was married to the Bengali singer and actress Ruma Guha Thakurta . In 1960, after his divorce, they married in a civil wedding ceremony as Kishore Kumar was Hindu and Madhubala, Muslim. His parents refused to attend. The couple had a Hindu ceremony to please Kumar's parents, but Madhubala was never truly accepted as his wife. Within a month of her wedding she moved back to her bungalow in Bandra because of tension in the marriage. They remained married, but under strain, for the rest of Madhubala's life.
Madhubala's love-life was the subject of media speculation. She is said to have been romantically involved with Director Kidar Sharma, Kamal Amrohi, actor Prem Nath and Pakistani politician Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto at different points in her career. Mohan Deep, in an unofficial biography of Madhubala, states that B. K. Karanjia, former Filmfare editor and a close friend of both Madhubala and her father Ataullah Khan said: "Yes, there were so many in love with her, she used to play one against the other. But it was out of innocence rather than shrewd calculation. Madhubala was a child at heart." However, commenting on the biography, Shammi Kapoor said: "Mohan Deep is a swine. You can't cash in on the dead—it is in bad taste. It is a pity that while in America you could be sued for misrepresentation, in India sleaze only gives a shot to sales. That's the reason I believe one should let lying dogs lie. Madhubala, a wonderful person and a dedicated artiste, doesn't deserve this." This view by Kapoor was supported by Paidi Jairaj, and Shakti Samanta rejected all Deep's comments. Film journalist M.S.M. Desai stated: "Also, Mohan Deep was not around at the time of Madhubala, so how is he capable of writing about her without resorting to hearsay?"
Final years and death
In 1960, Madhubala sought treatment in London as her condition deteriorated. Complicated heart surgery was in its infancy but offered some hope of a cure. After an examination doctors refused to operate, convinced her chances of surviving the procedure were minimal. Their advice was that she should rest and avoid overexertion, and predicted that she could live for another year. Knowing her death was imminent she returned to India, but lived a further 9 years.
In 1966, with a slight improvement in her health, Madhubala worked again opposite Raj Kapoor in the film Chalak. Film media noted her "comeback" with much publicity. However, within a few days of filming, her frail health caused her to collapse and the film remained incomplete and unreleased.
When acting was no longer an option Madhubala turned her attention to film direction. In 1969 she was set to make her directorial debut with the film Farz aur Ishq. However the film was never made as during pre-production she died on 23 February 1969 shortly after her 36th birthday. She was buried with her diary at the Santa Cruz Muslim cemetery by her family and husband Kishore Kumar. Her tomb was marble with added aayats from the Quran and verse dedications. Controversially, her tomb was demolished in 2010 to make space for new graves.
Popularity and iconography
Madhubala appeared in over seventy films. Three biographies and numerous articles have been published on her and she has been compared to Marilyn Monroe, having a similarly iconic position in Indian film history. Because she died before being relegated to supporting or character roles, Madhubala remains one of the most enduring and celebrated legends of Indian cinema, in spite of a proportionally low number of successful films during her career: fifteen box office hits. Her appeal to film fans was underlined in a 1990 poll conducted by Movie magazine, in which she was voted the most popular vintage Hindi actress of all time with 58% of votes, outranking contemporary actresses Meena Kumari, Nargis, and Nutan. More recently in Rediff.com's International Women's Day 2007 special, Madhubala was ranked second in its top ten list of "Bollywood's best actresses. Ever".
In 2004 a digital-colorized version of Mughal-e-Azam was released, 35 years after her death.
In 2008 a commemorative postage stamp featuring Madhubala was issued. The stamp was produced by India Post in a limited edition presentation pack. It was launched by veteran actors Nimmi and Manoj Kumar in a ceremony attended by colleagues, friends and surviving members of Madhubala's family. The only other Indian film actress to be honoured in this manner is Nargis Dutt.
Refrence : Wikipedia