Madhubala is often described as the epitome of timeless beauty in Indian cinema. The goddess of Hindi films with her iconic looks continues to fascinate lovers and historians of cinema. Let us take a fleeting look at the mystique associated with the actress, who would have been 85 today, had she been alive.
A star who brought a scene to life each time she stepped into it, her matchless looks and her spirited performances, made her the most stunning actress Indian cinema has ever known. Madhubala’s spontaneity and innocence which marked her screen presence, her sparkling smile and a faint sense of vulnerability heightened her acting skills.
Critics and viewers have not been fair to her in glossing over her acting abilities and focusing more on her breathtaking looks. Madhubala, Whose real name was Mumtaz Jahan, is remembered more for her sculpted looks of a Greek goddess than for her histrionic skills. Such a perception clearly, does not do justice to her work.
Madhubala's sense of comic timing was perfect—complemented as it was with her radiant smile and impish looks. Take the case of the memorable song from Kala Pani, "achha ji main haari chalo".
Again, don't miss the abandon that marks the song "main sitaaron ka taraana" from Chalti ka Naam Gaadi".
Madhubala was cast with Kishore Kumar and his two brothers, Ashok Kumar and Anoop Kumar in one of the most memorable Bollywood comedies. Later, she went on to marry Kishore Kumar, following the heartbreak in her prolonged love affair with Dilip Kumar, which sadly could not end in wedlock. However, her marriage to Kishore brought her little happiness, as it turned out.
Madhubala could also lend depth and poignancy to a role. She demonstrated this with stunning effect as Anarkali in K. Asif's magnum opus, Mughal-e-Azam, with admirable skill, matching the love of her life, Dilip Kumar, in every frame of every scene in which that the two of them light up the screen.
Her personal life was filled with tragedies, torn as she was between Ataullah Khan, her overprotective father, and her love for Dilip Kumar. To her misfortune, Madhubala was the sole bread winner of a large family, which among others included five sisters. Her father did not allow her to stop working to marry Dilip Kumar, and the actor insisted she give up acting. From the very beginning Dilip was very clear. He did not want her to work if they had to spend the rest of their lives together. Her marriage to the actor-singer Kishore Kumar proved to be a troubled one, worsening her plight.
Madhubala and Dilip Kumar were also paired in Sang Dil and Amar. Who can forget the Venus of Hindi cinema pining for Dilip as she sings, "na shikwa hai koi".
Madhubala died of a congenital heart disease at 36 in 1969. A precious gem lost too soon.