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Meena Kumari (born Mahjabeen Bano; 1 August 1933 – 31 March 1972) was an Indian film actress and poet, who worked in Hindi films. Popularly known as The Tragedy Queen She was active between 1939 and 1972. Kumari was described by critics as a "historically incomparable" actress of Hindi cinema. In a career spanning 33 years, she starred in about 92 films such as Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Pakeezah, Mere Apne, Aarti, Baiju Bawra, Parineeta, Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai, Foot Path, Dil Ek Mandir and Kaajal. Meena Kumari won four Filmfare Awards in the Best Actress category. She was the recipient of the inaugural Filmfare Best Actress Award for Baiju Bawra in 1954 and had a consecutive win in the second Filmfare Awards (1955) for Parineeta. Kumari made history at the 10th Filmfare Awards (1963), by receiving all three of the Best Actress nominations, and won for her performance in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. In the 13th Filmfare Awards (1966), Kumari won her last Best Actress award for Kaajal. Critics often noted that her character in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam was similar to her own real-life story.
Marriage to Kamal Amrohi (1952). It was in the year 1938, when a young and upcoming writer Kamal Amrohi was searching a girl for a small role in Sohrab Modi's film Jailor. On someone's suggestion he was sent to Ali Bux's house where he was greeted by a 5-year-old girl who had traces of mashed bananas around her face. The young girl was however not selected for the part but little did Amrohi knew that she was to become the love of his life. This girl was Meena Kumari who was then popular as Baby Mahjabeen.Years later, on the sets of Tamasha, Ashok Kumar introduced filmmaker Kamal Amrohi to Meena Kumari, who later, offered her a lead role in his upcoming film Anarkali. The contract was signed on 13 March 1951 but on 21 May 1951, Meena Kumari was involved in a motor car accident while returning from Mahabaleshwar to Bombay. She was admitted to Sassoon Hospital in Poona, injured around the left hand. Kumari went through bouts of depression, and Kamal Amrohi visited her regularly during her days in the hospital. When they were not scheduled to meet, both Kumari and Amrohi would write letters to each other.For four months this hospital affair continued and love blossomed. This accident left Meena Kumari with a banded left pinky which remained banded throughout her life, and she used to cover her left hand with a dupatta or saree during shoots. After Kumari was discharged from hospital, a telephoning marathon between her and Amrohi began during nights. Soon shooting of the film Anarkali commenced but the producer suffered a financial disaster and the film was abandoned. On 14 February 1952, Meena Kumari, 18, and Kamal Amrohi, 34, secretly got married in a simple "Niqah" ceremony in the presence of a Qadi and Kumari's younger sister, Mahliqa (Madhu). The Niqah paper was witnessed by Baqar Ali (Kamal Amrohi's friend and assistant) and Qadi's two sons, and signed in the name of Mahjabeen Bano (Meena Kumari's real name) and Syed Ameen Haider (Kamal Amrohi's real name). After the ceremony, the newlyweds parted. Amrohi left for Sion and Meena and Madhu returned home. The marriage was kept secret from the family and media, although Kamal Amrohi was already married and had three children from his previous wife. After some months, the matrimony news was leaked to Kumari's father, Ali Bux, by a cook who overheard their midnight phone conversations. The father recommended a divorce. Meena Kumari remained adamant on her decision, but stayed in her father's house. Meanwhile, Kamal Amrohi planned a film called Daaera in 1953 and decided to cast Kumari, now his wife, in it. Kumari asked her father's permission for working in the film, but Ali Bux refused on the basis that the dates were given to Mehboob Khan for the film Amar. She protested, but he warned his daughter that if she went to shoot for Daaera the doors of his house would be permanently shut for her. Reluctantly, Meena Kumari agreed, but after shooting for five days, she instigated a disagreement with Mehboob Khan and left the studios. On 14 August 1953, Meena Kumari drove to Bombay Talkies and worked in front of her husband's camera for the film Daaera. Ali Bux somehow came to know this by some external sources and at night, on her return, he refused to open the door. Meena Kumari turned her car around and left for her husband's residence at Sion. Separation from husband and addiction to alcohol (1964). After their marriage, Kamal Amrohi allowed Meena Kumari to continue her acting career, but on the conditions that she should not remit anyone in her makeup room but her makeup artist and return home in her own car by 6:30 every evening. Meena Kumari agreed to all terms, but with passing time she kept breaking them. Abrar Alvi, director of Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, recounts how Kamal Amrohi would have his spy and right-hand man Baqar Ali present even in the makeup room while Meena's makeup was being done, and one evening, when working beyond schedule to complete a shot, he had to face his heroine dissolving in tears.In 1963, Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam was selected as the Indian entry to the Berlin Film Festival and Meena Kumari was selected as a delegate. The then Minister of Information & Broadcasting, Satya Narayan Sinha, arranged for two tickets, one for Meena Kumari and one for her husband, but Kamal Amrohi refused to accompany his wife. The Berlin trip never materialized. During a premiere at Eros cinema, Sohrab Modi introduced Meena Kumari and Kamal Amrohi to the governor of Maharashtra. Sohrab Modi said "This is the renowned actress Meena Kumari, and this is her husband Kamal Amrohi". Whereupon before greetings were exchanged, Kamal Amrohi interjected: "No, I am Kamal Amrohi and this is my wife, the renowned actress Meena Kumari". Saying this, Kamal Amrohi left the auditorium. Meena Kumari saw the premiere alone.According to Vinod Mehta, writer of her biography, Meena Kumari was subjected to physical abuse in her marriage. He points out that although Amrohi, repeatedly denied any such allegations, he learnt it from six different sources that she indeed was a sufferer. After her death in 1972, fellow actress Nargis wrote a piece about her which was published in an Urdu magazine. She mentioned that while on an outdoor shoot of Main Chup Rahungi, when both of them were sharing adjacent rooms, she too heard noises suggestive of violence. The following day, she met a swollen-eyed Kumari who would have cried all night. Such rumours found their base on the mahurat of Pinjre Ke Panchhi. On 5 March 1964, Kamal Amrohi's assistant, Baqar Ali slapped Meena Kumari when she allowed Gulzar enter her makeup room. Kumari immediately called Amrohi to come to the film's set but he never came. Instead, he asked her to come to him, so he can decide what to do further. This not only enraged Kumari but also acted as the final straw in their already strained relationship. Kumari went straightaway to her sister, Madhu's home. When Kamal Amrohi went there to bring her back, she refused to talk to him even after his repeated persuasion. After that, neither Amrohi tried to fetch her back nor Meena Kumari returned. In an interview given to Tabassum on her show Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan after Kumari's death, Amrohi recalled her as "a good actress but not a good wife, who thought herself as an actress at home as well."Meena Kumari was a patient of chronic insomnia and was on sleeping pills for a long time since the days of telephoning conversations with Kamal Amrohi. During 1963, Dr. Saeed Timurza, her physician, then prescribed a small peg of brandy as a sleeping pill alternative and this was officially how she came into contact with the habit that was to kill her. This prescribed peg of brandy turned into heavy drinking after her separation from her husband in 1964. After that, Kumari's name was associated with Rahul, Gulzar, Dharmendra and Sawan Kumar Tak. Deteriorating health and treatment in London (1968). In 1968, Kumari was diagnosed with cirrhosis of liver. The medical advice was that she needed more advanced and permanent cure. She received treatments in London and Switzerland in June 1968. From the months of June to August, Meena Kumari was in the hands of Dr. Sheila Sherlock.Upon recovery, Kumari returned to India in September 1968 and on the fifth day after her arrival, Meena Kumari, contrary to doctors' instructions resumed work. Suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, although Meena Kumari temporarily recovered but was now much weak and thin. Director Saawan Kumar Tak said "Not only did she not drink, she would not let me drink either. she did not touch a drop after London". After returning from London, Kumari for the first time, purchased her own home, which was on the eleventh floor of a building called "Landmark", situated at Carter Road, Bandra.
Movies & TV Series
Chandan Ka Palna
Ajit lives with his mother, and comes from a very wealthy family. He meets with beautiful Shobha and both fall in love with each other. Ajit's mom is delighted and agrees to meet with Harikishan Rai, ...
Bipinchandra breaks family tradition by marrying a city girl, Hemangini, much to the chagrin of his sister-in-law, Kadambini, and her husband, Navinchandra. Things are delicate even after both women g...
Ramanan and Madanan are the two shepherds who are bosom pals. Meek and handsome, Ramanan used to sing and play the flute as he led the flock to the pastures Chandrika , the daughter of the wealthy A...
Agra-based atheist and revolutionary poet/editor of Inquilab, Ejaz, falls head-over-heels in love with Naaz Ara Begum after he hears her sing, and then ends up losing his job. With the assistance of h...
Chitralekha is a 1964 historical-philosophical Hindi film, directed by Kidar Sharma, starring Ashok Kumar, Meena Kumari and Pradeep Kumar. It was based on 1934 Hindi novel by the same name by Bhagwati...
Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam
A Zamindar neglects his wife and prefers the company of alcohol and dancing girls. The decadence of the Bangali Zamindar milieu and the raising bourgeoisie in the late 19th century, seen through the e...
An unemployed young man named Deepak (Pradeep Kumar) saves Aarti Gupta (Meena Kumari), a hardworking and dedicated doctor, from drowning, and the two eventually fall in love with each other, although ...
Rajkumar Dhivendra Pratap Bahadur is the new king. Veer Singh's wife, who raised Dhivendra, wants him to marry Rajkumari Chandramukhi of Rajgarh, and her father is also for it. The trouble is, people ...
Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai
A rich girl marries a doctor. Differences crop up between the two and starts to snowball wherein she returns to her father's house. Months later she returns only to find he is in love with a nurse.
Ek Hi Raasta (Hindi: एक ही रास्ता, meaning "The only way") is a 1956 family-drama Indian Hindi film directed and produced by B. R. Chopra. It starred Sunil Dutt, Meena Kumari, Ashok Kumar, Daisy Irani...
Meena, a wealthy, educated girl, has been promised in marriage to Sunder, a sheltered young man who has received an extremely traditional religious education. Displeased, Meena sets out to find a more...
Noshu took to black-marketing because he was tired of poverty. He realized that his act had hurt everyone around him, including his brother and his girl. He tries to make things right, but it may not ...
In Calcutta at the turn of the century, two families (one wealthier than the other but both belonging to the same caste) live in adjoining properties. Their respective patriarchs fall out over the rep...
Two Acres of Land
An impoverished man and his young son travel to Bombay and look for work, in order to make money that'll save their ancestral land from being seized by a corporation.
The narrative deals with the dreams and aspiration of a 16-old-girl, Sheetal (Meena Kumari) caught in the vortex of uncertainty and morality. Desperate for engagement with her neighbour, Shravan (Nasi...