Interesting Facts and Figures : Meena Kumari

meenakumari.jpgMeena Kumari: The droop of her kiss curl, the anguish-laden voice never more than a sob from abject despair, the unblemished beauty made Meena Kumari the ultimate tragedy queen in Indian Cinema. This is an image to which she remained shackled for the rest of her life – the lonely sorrowful woman whose desires remain unfulfilled in a cruel world. Meena Kumari is regarded as one of the most talented and prominent 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 ninety films, many of which have achieved classic and cult status today.

meenakumari.JPGBirthday: 1st August, 1932 in Mumbai.

Date of Death: 31st March, 1972 in Mumbai.

Spouse: Kamal Amrohi (1952 – 1964) (divorced)

Debut Film: Leatherface (1939) as a child artiste. However, her adult debut was Veer Ghatotkach (1949).

Major Impact: Baiju Bawra (1952).

Successful Films: Daera (1953), Azaad (1955), Ek Hi Rasta (1956), Miss Mary (1957), Sharda (1957), Shararat (1959), Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi (1960), Kohinoor (1960), Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962), Aarti (1962), Main Chup Rahoongi (1962), Dil Ek Mandir (1963), Kajal (1965) and Phoor Aur Pathar (1966), Jawab (1970), Dushman (1971), Mere Apne (1971), Pakeezah (1972).

Awards: Four times winner of the Filmfare Best Actress Award.

Facts we didn’t know:

Meena Kumari or Mahjabeen Bano was the third daughter of Ali Baksh and Iqbal Begum; Khursheed and Madhu were her two elder sisters. At the time of her birth, her parents were unable to pay the fees of Dr. Gadre, who had delivered her, so her father left her at a Muslim orphanage; however, he picked her up after a few hours.

Her father, a Sunni Muslim, was a veteran of Parsi theater, played harmonium, taught music, and wrote Urdu poetry. He played small roles in films like Id Ka Chand and composed music for films like Shahi Lutere.

Her mother, Prabhwati Devi, was the second wife of Ali Baksh. Before meeting and then marrying Ali Baksh, she was a stage actress and dancer, under the stage name, Kamini. After marriage, she converted from Hinduism to Islam, and changed her name to Iqbal Begum.(It is said that Prabhwati Devi’s mother, Hem Sundari, had been married into the Tagore family, but she was disowned by that family after being widowed.)

She has two sisters Khurshid and Madhu.

Mahjabeen wanted to study in school but was compelled to act in Hindi movies as a child artiste, and ended up becoming the sole bread earner of the family.

She wrote poetry in Urdu, some of which has been published.

Mehmood married Meena Kumari’s sister.

Mehmood taught table tennis to Meena Kumari.

At the Filmfare Awards 1963, she was the only one nominated in the category Best Actress in a Leading Role. She was nominated for three of her performances in three different films – an achievement still not accomplished by any other actress at the Filmfare Awards.


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