Of course her birthday is Valentine’s Day, the day of love and lots of red hearts………..
Madhubala, who broke so many hearts, filled so many hearts with love and eventually left this world through a broken heart. She had a cardiac condition called ventricular septal defect. So easily repaired now but there was no one who could help her in the 1960s, not even in London. As a tribute to her life and beauty, here is a list of some of my favourite Madhubala songs and a sprinkling of some pieces of her life story.
Madhubala was born Mumtaz Dahlavi,acted in several films as a child artiste and made the transition to lead roles at age 14. Who can forget the combination of Lata’s young perfect voice and Madhubala’s young perfect face, in the film Mahal, as she swings in a garden singing ……….
- Aayega Aaanewala…
My generation saw Chayageet and Chitrahaar in the 70s and 80s and the only song we waited for, week after week, was
2. Aaiye meherban, baithiye jaanejaan……..
Those were the good old days before videos or CDs or 24/7 TV channels, so we had absolutely no clue what happens in Howrah Bridge! But that song, the gossamer scarf, her naughty smile, the brooding Ashok Kumar, the curls of smoke from his cigarette. It all just seemed too impossibly romantic !
In the early 1950s, as Madhubala became one of the most sought-after actresses in India, she attracted interest from Hollywood and even appeared in the American magazine Theatre Arts where, she was featured in an article with the title: “The Biggest Star in the World – and she’s not in Beverly Hills”.
3. Thandi Hawa Yeh Chandani Suhani from Jhumroo
We had the pleasure of going for a programme called ‘Madhurbala’, Madhubala’s musical biography, on 14th Feb, her birthday. A beautiful selection of songs by Ashok Hande and an ensemble of 8 singers and 16 musicians wove a magical tapestry and we were all transported to a different era. Almost everyone in the audience was over 60 years of age and they were singing along and clapping and shouting ‘once more’ !
Some of her famous pairings were of course with Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand.
4. Accha Ji Mein Haari from kaala pani
But she also did two movies with Bharat Bhushan which became super hits.
Barsaat Ki Raat with the musical tribute to her beauty
5. Ziindagi bhar nahi bhoolegi woh barsaat ki raat, ek anjaan haseena se mulaquat ki raat.
And Gateway of India
6. Do ghadi who jo paas aa baithe, hum zamane se door ja baithe
She also did a comedy role with Guru Dutt in Mr and Mrs 55 and danced and pranced through fun and light songs like
7. Thandi Hawa Kali Ghata Aa Hi Gayi Jhoom Ke
The Madhurbala show had some film clips also which showcased her wide range of roles and her powerhouse acting. There are dialogues and scenes from Mughal-e-Azam where you just have to say Wah ! She is in the same frame with stalwarts like Prithviraj Kapoor and a thespian- in- the- making Dilip Kumar, the film took over 7 years to make and her health was already deteriorating, but you simply cannot look at anyone else when she appears on screen !
8. Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya
9. Prem Jogan Ban Ke.
This romantic and erotic scene is a testimony to the acting skills of both the actors since they had just had very acrimonious and public breakup , including a court case !
10. Bekas pe karam kijiye
Apparently for authenticity K Asif had asked for real iron chains and the weight of those exhausted her and probably contributed to her ill health.
11. Mohabbat Ki jhoothi Kahani Pe Roye
Dilip Kumar moved on and married Saira Banu. Madhubala carried on with her films and eventually found love with her co star Kishore Kumar. He was known for his outrageous comedy and she matched step for step and crazy song for song in movies like Half Ticket and Chalti ka Naam Gaadi.
12. Main Sitaron Ka Tarana
By the age of 27 she had already acted in 33 films and had a string of sad love affairs. In these days of love jihad and religious hatred, it is ironic that her father rejected her only muslim lover as being a ‘vegetable seller’ and finally allowed her to marry Kishore Kumar Ganguly !
We also heard from the show that she was always punctual on the sets and generous with her charity. She was a simple girl who did not fancy jewellery or any of the trappings of stardom. Her family came first.
13. Janoon janoon re
By 1960, her condition aggravated, and her sister explains “she had to be given oxygen every four to five hours or else would get breathless. She was confined to bed for nine years and was reduced to just bones and skin”. When acting was no longer an option Madhubala turned her attention to film direction. In 1969 she was set to make her directorial debut but the film was never made as she died on February 23, 1969, shortly after her 36th birthday. She was not allowed to rest in peace even after that and controversially, her tomb was demolished in 2010 to make space for new graves.
On March 18, 2008, a commemorative postage stamp featuring Madhubala was issued
14. Aankhon mein tum dil mein tum ho
The program hall was filled with only people over 50 that day and I felt sad that the younger generation does not know her and her films and songs.
I guess this weekend is going be Madhubala Film Festival at home for my teenagers to get to know her. Starting of course with Mughal- e- Azam.
15. Teri mehfil mein kismet azmakar hum bhi dekhenge.