On her death anniversary: Celebrating Meena Kumari’s life
It’s name that invokes beauty, passion and mystery. A face that created many magical moments on celluloid. Meena Kumari breathed her last on this day. One of the greatest and most beautiful actresses of the Indian cinema, Meena excelled in essaying saddened, grief-stricken characters onscreen. So much so that she was christened the Tragedy Queen of the industry. [Feature Image Courtesy: ibnlive.in]
Born as Mehjabeen Bano, Meena Kumari’s family had compelled her to work in movies since the tender age of seven. Baby Meena, as she was famously called at that time, was never the one to be interested in films; she always wanted to lead a normal life like other children who study in schools. And yet, in a career spanning three decades, she did almost ninety films. Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Pakeezah, Baiju Bawra, Parineeta and Azaad were some of the landmark films of her career.
According to the biography written by Vinod Mehta on Meena’s life, it was a doctor’s prescription that led to her severe drinking problem. The doctor only prescribed one glass of brandy to cure her sleeping problem which led to her sneaking in alcohol in
Dettol bottles in her bathroom. This drinking problem became her tragedy. It destroyed her liver and took her life at the very height of her career.
It is also a known fact that Meena was attracted to literature and poetry and he friend circle included many poets and writers. In fact she wrote poetry herself and even recorded an album of her urdu poetry along with music by Khayyam.
Although she won many filmfare awards, it was her last film Pakeezah that gave her utmost popularity posthumously. The film took almost 14 years to get made due to a change in the relationship between the actress and her husband Kamal Amrohi, who was also director for the film. When the film was conceived, they were married, but they parted ways over the course of the film. The actress fell very ill towards the end of the shoot schedule. However, finally when the film did release her character of a prostitute from a brothel in Lucknow garnered praise from critics across the board. The tragedy here is that Meena Kumari died a week after the film’s release.
There is news that Kamal Amrohi’s son and Meena’s stepson Tajdar Amrohi is making a movie on her life which was no less than a rollercoaster ride. Speculation is on about who will essay the lead role. Last heard, Manisha Koirala was the top contender for the part.