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21 May 2011

The Greats: Madhubala

Why choose Madhubala, before Nutan, or Nargis? Nutan was a far superior actress, Nargis had a gamin charm all her own, Waheeda was a far better dancer, Meena Kumari was the unquestioned queen of drama. Yet Madhubala was perhaps the most beauteous of them all, the thousand-watt smile lighting up screens, a Venus shining bright, stealing her own place not only amidst her stellar contemporaries but also carving a niche out for herself.  A golden goose with the weight of family responsibility on her frail shoulders, her chequered career cut short by a tragic illness, an ill-fated love story, poor choices, a controlling father... her life was not unlike a film script.

Born Mumtaz Jehan Begum, she started working at the age of eight. Five years later, at the age of 14, she got her first break as a heroine in Neel Kamal, opposite another fledgling actor in his first major role as hero, Raj Kapoor. Directed by Kidar Sharma, Baby Mumtaz debuted as Madhubala. It is said that it was Devika Rani who was responsible for changing 'Mumtaz' into Madhubala.

Two years later, she met Dilip Kumar on the sets of Tarana, and thus began a love story that was to last seven years. Until she sacrificed her love on the altar of a father's unbending law. The story goes that on the first day of shooting, she sent him a red rose and a message of love; Dilip Kumar was intrigued and amused - enough to meet his new heroine, and the rest, as they say, was history. Whatever be the truth of that story, it is an interesting one, and one that lends a sheen to the legend that was Madhubala.

In her short career, she was part of some incredibly successful movies, and some path-breaking ones. She could never capitalise on the success of her movies, though, partly due to her continued ill-health, and partly due to the stranglehold that her father had on her decisions. And there were several bad ones. Certainly, her incredible beauty overshadowed her acting prowess.

Here then, are ten of her best movies, in chronological order (as seen through a very subjective lens).
 
1. Mahal (1949)
The film that catapulted a very young Madhubala to overnight stardom. Khemchand Prakash's music, Lata's soulful voice, Madhubala's ethereal charm - and a 'ghost' movie that surpassed others in the genre. Debutant director Kamal Amrohi had a hit on his hands, only no one believed it would work. And it is an ironical twist of fate that Bombay Talkies had to close down after the biggest hit that it had ever had. Mahal was also the first movie that had a song that became its leit motif - Aayega aane wala. And oh, did I mention Madhubala is beautiful? Madhubala is beautiful. 

Mahal has been identified as a ghost story, and one of the most successful ones of the genre; but it fits as well, or perhaps more so into the suspense genre - a ghost who is not a ghost; a man, a sceptic who is driven to believe in reincarnation; a loving wife turned vengeful vixen; the atmosphere of gloom, despair, and finally death; an ending that is as surprising as the story of the 'ghost' - the proverbial twist in the tale. 

2. Tarana (1951)
The movie that was the beginning of a love affair fated to end as all 'good' love affairs should - tragically. This is one of the movies that is inexplicably overlooked when one talks about the huge body of work that is Dilip's; inexplicable because, this had all the necessary ingredients for a decent entertainer - a above-average script, decent acting, reasonably tight direction, and above all, two stars whose personal chemistry lit up the screen like fireworks on Diwali night. Anyone I know who has seen it, has watched Tarana more than once. 

Dilip is Dr Motilal, returning home after years abroad, to a marriage fixed by his father. The plane he is in, crashes, and of course, he is saved, and looked after by a kind villager and his beautiful daughter, Tarana (Madhubala). Now, which man in his right senses is not going to fall in love with her? Well, Dr Motilal is not in complete control of his senses, but even he has enough wits about him to fall head over heels for her. But what is a love story without a villain? There is another man, the local yokel (well, not quite, but it has a nice ring to it) who is in love with her, and who can blame him? So he plots and plans and succeeds in ruining the girl's izzat  and in driving the doctor from the village.

And of course, the fates take a hand; the good doctor, pining for his beloved is led to believe that she died. And, apathetic as he is, is emotionally blackmailed into a loveless marriage (poor Shyama!). Tarana, on the other hand, is undergoing one of Lemony Snicket's series of unfortunate events - she is separated from the man she loves, she is slandered (and what will happen to a 'good' girl if her izzat  is looted?), her hut catches fire, her father dies...

Madhubala came up with a striking performance - watch the way her expressions change in this song. And music director Anil Biswas came up with a score that reached deep into more than one heart - if Nain mile nain hue baawre  spoke of the happiness of falling in love, then Seene mein sulagte hai armaan was the yearning of two hearts sundered. And if Ek main hoon ek meri bekasi ki shaam hai was an anthem of helplessness, then Woh din kahan gaye bata underlined the sheer agony of separation.

Who can watch Dilip Kumar and Madhubala in this film and not believe that the tale was true and they were deeply in love?  They make you want to believe it. 

3. Amar(1954)
An amazing psychological drama based on a moral and ethical dilemma. Three characters who are drawn into the crisis because of one of them gives in to his baser instincts in a weak moment; and the negative consequences which throw them, and others, into a whirlpool of tragedy, and the inevitable consequences of heartbreak, guilt and repentance. 

Anju (Madhubala) is an heiress whose widowed father is looking for prospective grooms for his beautiful daughter. His search leads him to Advocate Amarnath; young, handsome, successful, well-respected. Anju and Amar meet, fall in love with her father's blessings, and their engagement is about to be announced when Amar begins to withdraw from Anju. As the crisis escalates, the village is rife with shocking rumours. And life, as Anju knows it, begins to unravel. 

This is one of Madhubala's finest performances as she traverses the arc from a naive young girl who has the world at her feet to a strong woman who has to deal with an ethical dilemma. It is also an understated performance by Dilip Kumar as he portrays the pain of a man who has given in to a momentary weakness and discovers that old sins cast long shadows. And who can forget Nimmi at the eye of the storm? 

4. Mr and Mrs 55 (1955)
One of Madhubala's first forays into comedy. It was quite remarkable for being rather misogynistic, though it did become a huge hit, or should I say "and it became a huge hit"? OP Nayyar's music had a huge role to play in its success. Who can forget Thandi hawa, kali ghata with Madhubala twirling an umbrella? Or Chal diye banda nawaz? And of course, being a Guru Dutt movie, Johnny Walker had to have a song of his own, where he spent some time ostensibly searching for his liver (and before you laugh, the liver is supposed to be the seat of emotion!); and is asked by his girlfriend why he had to bring it to the office! 

Madhubala plays a naive but spirited heiress (Anita) who is fully under the thumb of her straight-laced, stridently feminist (read man-hating) aunt. Who is aghast when Anita turns 18 and her father's will declares that his not-inconsiderable wealth should be given to Anita only if she gets married. The aunt is not to be defeated in this manner. She proceeds to hire a husband; one who will conveniently divorce her niece when the inheritance is duly signed, sealed and delivered. There is nice scene where she descends on Pritam (Guru Dutt) and upon seeing his artwork all over the walls of his office, asks him derisively "Socialist ho?" And Pritam looks up from the proofs and says dryly, "Nahin. cartoonist hoon." 

And so Pritam and Anita are married, and the aunt is patting herself on her back for having sidestepped her brother's unseemly conditions. Only Cupid is waiting in the wings, and has his own plans up his sleeve. Well, you know what I mean. And so, predictably, the heroine falls in love with the hero, and realises the true meaning of femininity and marriage and the duty of a wife. (Barf! That is the part I hated!) 

4. Ek Saal (1957)
Reel imitating real or vice versa? Madhubala is Usha, a young girl with only a year to live. Only, she doesn't know it. Ashok Kumar is a con man, who has an eye on Usha's father's wealth. Usha is in love with Ashok Kumar; he does not reciprocate. (Is the man blind or what??) Only her doting father is willing to go the stretch to keep his daughter happy, even if it means hiring Ashok to pretend to love her.

So everyone is happy - Ashok is getting paid a princely sum to pretend to be in love with a beautiful woman, Usha thinks she has found true love,  her father has bought his daughter's happiness  - or are they? And the clock is ticking...
Will Ashok fall in love with Usha? Will Rajni succeed in breaking Usha's heart in her quest for vengeance? Will Usha die? Will true love survive?  

6. Kala Pani (1958)
A Nav Ketan adaptation of AJ Cronin's Beyond the Place. (Nothing much to wonder at; Dev Anand has often gone on record to say that Cronin was a favourite author.) In a story about a man's untiring quest for justice, Madhubala plays Asha, a reporter whom the protagonist meets in the course of his search for answers.

She is beautiful, she is talented, she is strong. And she helps our hero in his quest, and they fall in love, and all is well with the world until she discovers that her lover is also visiting a courtesan (Nalini Jaywant). And he refuses to explain. Raj Khosla, Guru Dutt's erstwhile assistant, directs another taut thriller with a courtroom climax. 



7. Howrah Bridge (1958)
Another Ashok Kumar-Madhubala starrer. On the face of it, an unlikely pair. But, it worked. The attraction between the two is palpable, and Madhubala sizzles as she never had before. She is at her glamorous best as a nightclub dancer. Westernised, languorously seductive, not beyond playing one man against the other - is she on the good side or the evil one? Can one tell? This must be the only movie where the westernised heroine does not get served her just desserts by dying in order to save the hero. And when is the last time a heroine got to whistle so beautifully? When is the last time you remember a heroine being Anglo-Indian and good? Come on, count them on your fingers and you will still have a hand left over.

Full marks to director Shakti Samanta who infused the film with just the right amount of romance and suspense. Ashok Kumar has never been so carefree as he was romancing Madhubala in this song. She is flirtatious without being a coquette and he responds with such tenderness that one is amazed - Dadamoni never being known for his lover-like tendencies!

Add a story that involves a stolen heirloom, a murder on a historic landmark, the murky dealings in Calcutta's China Town (the director set a later movie, another huge success, in this quarter of Calcutta), a not-so-stereotypical Chinese villain, a plot that moves from Rangoon to Calcutta and back, and a smarter-than-usual police force, and you have a movie that is very entertaining! OP Nayyar's seductive score, Asha Bhonsle's and Geeta Dutt's dulcet voices and Madhubala's charm - that is not just the cake, but the icing and the whole bakery!

8. Chalti ka Naam Gaadi  (1958)
If Mr and Mrs 55 was her first foray into comedy, then Madhubala ensured that that performance was not just a flash in the pan with her full-fledged comic role in Chalti ka Naam Gaadi. She matched Kishore Kumar's craziness with a vim and a verve and continued to look gorgeous as she did so.

The story of three brothers and a car with a mind of its own, Chalti ka Naam Gaadi  was that rare comedy - one that succeeds because plot, acting, music and timing all worked in tandem without missing a beat. Ashok Kumar plays Brij Mohan, the eldest of the trio - a man who was jilted by his lover with nary a word of explanation. This setback turns him into a misogynist. In order to protect his younger (and more innocent) brothers from the pain of heartbreak, he orders them to keep away from all women. With predictable consequences. They promptly fall in love with the first women with whom they have some contact, though Kishore is lucky enough to come to the rescue of a drenched Venus. And then, he rubs it into his middle brother the next morning.

Now throw in the fact that the two love stories have to be kept hidden from the eldest brother (who finds out anyway); mix in a couple of abductions, a resurrection of a ghost from the past, a hilarious car race, a fight sequence in the climax to add to the craziness, and top it all off with a lovely musical score by Burman da - and you have a laugh-until-you-cry comedy, with just the right amount of masala.

This was the movie which really displayed Madhubala's comic timing. Watch her as she tries to stop the mini-villain from going to the hideout and wrecking their carefully-laid plans; or when, teasing Kishore, she asks him to catch a few roosters for her, and laughs merrily when he fails miserably; or even when she disguises herself as a man (quite a stretch of imagination on the part of the director there!), and aids Kishore in staking out the villains' hideout. It is a shame that she didn't get to exploit her talent for comedy. 

9. Barsat ki Raat (1960)
A dark night. A beautiful damsel drenched in the rain. A poetic young man who is inspired by her beauty. Qawwaalis, mushairas, impromptu poetry sessions - Sahir Ludhianvi and Roshan combined to give such an incomparable music score, I am even willing to overlook the fact that so many of them were filmed on Bharat Bhushan.

The story starts off on a dark, rainy night (are there any other kind?) when a young man with poetry in his soul, runs into a young woman who is stranded in the rain. And the combination of her drenched beauty and his instinctive response leads our young hero (Bharat Bhushan) Aman Hyderabadi, and beautiful heroine Shabnam into a romantic interlude that unleashes an emotional storm that matches the outer one. 

He is a qawwal, a shaayar; she is the elder daughter of the city's police commissioner; he is enamoured by the sight of her as revealed by a convenient flash of lightning; she is already a fan of his poetry (she keeps a book of his poetry by her bedside). And so, while she does not know him when she meets him, she is excited when she hears he is going to perform a new song on the radio. Imagine her joy when she hears the song and realises that the man she met was her poet, and what's more, he is singing about her!

And they meet again - and this time, he sings Maine shaayad tumhe, and eyes meet across the hall, and love flourishes, unseen by her father's eyes. But how long can the lovers escape? Her father (KN Singh) hates poets with a passionate hatred; and besides, he wants her to marry a friend's son. Shabnam is made of stronger mettle; she elopes with her poet.

Many trials and tribulations later, the film climaxes in a final qawwali competition, the very evocative Na to kaarvan ki talaash hai and all the knotty problems unravel to end happily-ever-after. One of the few movies of the time where the women seemed to have some idea of their own lives and loves. 

10. Mughal-e-Azam(1960)
It is interesting that in a movie named after Emperor Akbar, and with two scenery-chewing co-stars (Prithviraj Kapoor as Akbar and Dilip Kumar as Prince Salim), it is Madhubala's Anarkali who is centre stage. This was her film, through and through, with the men providing the perfect foil to her beauty and dignity. 

K Asif's magnum opus had been in the making for many years; Madhubala wasn't even the first choice for the role of the courtesan whose beauty enslaved a prince of the realm, and whose love affair with her prince nearly brought an empire to its knees. However, fate decreed that it be Madhubala's swansong, and she, seriously ill though she was, uncomplainingly donned the heavy chains for hours so she could play the doomed danseuse. And while Mughal-e-Azam was not her last movie, it would be a fitting swansong to her acting career - the films that followed were not very successful nor were they a tribute to her talent. 

I would go out on a limb here and assert that Anarkali was Madhubala's best performance ever. If her eyes flash defiance at her emperor during the Pyar kiya to darna kya sequence, they are full of pain as she, chained and imprisoned, pleads for divine intervention. (This is, in my opinion, the best song from a score that had one great melody after another!) If there is the ecstasy of being with her lover (the scene with the feather is one of the most sensuous scenes ever filmed in Hindi cinema), then there is agonising fear at the thought of the prince being put to death. Madhubala had never looked so beautiful, or so sorrowful before.

The legend of Salim and Anarkali is famous in the annals of immortal love stories. Prince Salim is the weak-willed, dissolute, and rebellious eldest son of the Mughal emperor Jalal-ud-din Mohammed Akbar. When he falls in love with a courtesan in his father's court, and she reciprocates, the flames of their passion threaten to raze the empire to the ground. The emperor is furious. And Anarkali is defiant. She does not fear where she has loved. And she is willing to take on the emperor with a song on her lips and a fire in her eyes.

Queen Jodha Bai tries to reason with her recalcitrant son. In a gripping scene, she warns the future emperor Hamara hindustan koi tumhare dil nahin hai laundi jispar hukumat kare (Our Hindustan is not your heart that some dancer can rule over), to which the adamant prince retorts "Toh mera dil bhi aapka Hindustan nahin hai jo aap us par hukumat kare!" (And my heart is not your Hindustan that you can rule over it!)

When he leads a rebellion against his father, he is defeated, captured, and sentenced to death for treason. It is Anarkali who begs for his life, offering hers in exchange. And when the emperor, pleased to be able to pardon his son, asks her what she wants in exchange, Anarkali begs to wear the crown of the Empress for a day. Akbar is stunned at her audacity; and believes that it was her greed and not her love that had entrapped his son. But Anarkali explains: Prince Salim had promised her that he would make her the queen of the empire; she does not want him reviled for failing to keep his promise. 

Akbar gives in reluctantly; on the night when she visits Prince Salim for the last time, he places the crown of the realm on her head, only to be told that, as empress, she forgives him the crime of her murder. A very strong, dignified performance from Madhubala that only served to underline her helplessness as she spends her final hours with the prince she loves more than life itself - she is willing to betray the latter in order to save the former. She appears hopelessly in love, yet resolute when faced with impending doom. This is her  film.

26 comments:

  1. Before her affair with Dilip Kumar, it is said that she was with Premnath and when she left him for Dilip, he was heartbroken!
    Maybe that is why he put on so much weight later on! ;-)
    I love Madhubala! Great actress, superb comedienne!
    Other than the movies, which you have mentioned I liked her in Insaan Jaag Utha and Jhumroo and naturally Half-Ticket, though the latter was not a big showcase for her talent.

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  2. Harvey, I think she was the classic case of the goose that laid the golden eggs. She was barely 16 when she met Dilip, so I do not know when she could have been with Premnath. It is said that even Bharat Bhushan had proposed to her, but Dilip was the one she loved. One will never know, I guess. I loved her in Jhumroo; Half-Ticket was a movie where Kishore was so annoying.

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  3. The only movies I have seen of Madhubala are "Kaala Pani" & "CKNG", so need to to see more. Maybe I will start with her Ashok Kumar ones like Mahal, Howrah Bridge & Ek Saal. They seem more to my liking than some of the Dilip Kumar ones. Early DK movies would usually bore me, but then that was way back in the 70's when a younger me was into masala & dishoom-dishoom.
    Thanks again for an extremely detailed post.

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  4. Samir, thanks for the encouragement. :) Howrah Bridge and Ek Saal are good, but despite Yusuf saab, Mughal-e-Azam is definitely worth a watch. My issue is that we cannot get the black and white version of the film any more. The colour is distracting.

    And masala and dishoom-dishoom are good! I like masala and dishoom-dishoom. :))

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  5. Yes, I thought Kishore Kumar was just so irritating in Half Ticket! That is the main reason I tend to blank that film out of my list of Madhubala films - I prefer Jhumroo any day.

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  6. Lovely (literally!!) post, Anu. The only one of Madhubala's films from your list that I haven't seen is Tarana, and the only one that I have seen but don't much like is Amar. True, Madhubala herself is great in that, but Nimmi spoilt the film for me - she was so irritating.

    What I find very disappointing is that the two Madhubala films opposite my favourite hero - Shammi Kapoor - are so not-that-great. Rail ke Dibba is a yawn, and Boyfriend (though awesome eye candy!) is just so disjointed and incoherent, it's good mostly only for the songs.

    BTW: No, no Anglo-Indian heroine ever died for her man. But then the heroines weren't Anglo-Indians, no? The 'bad girls', the vamps or the dancing girls - were the Anglo Indians. The heroines (and Edna is the exception) were never that type. She IS a GOOD GIRL! ;-)

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  7. You found Kishore annying in Half-Ticket. Well, i should admit, i did at time too. But one forgives Kishore da so easily. But I love 'Aakhe sidhi lagi'!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFf1bdl4AeA&feature=related

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  8. Harvey, one does actually. How can one not forget a man, who as he lay seriously ill, told his wife that he wished he had not sung so many sad songs because once he died, Doordarshan and All India Radio would *only* play those? :)

    Seriously, though, however much I liked Kishore da (and I really, really, do), that character was totally irritating. There is a story that Kishoreda had to beg Salil Choudhary to let him sing both the male and female parts in this song. That is, he lip sync-ed both for himself and for Pran.

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  9. Madhu, agreed on all your points - I didn't much like Amar either, but I found it interesting that Dilip Saab played a character that was so grey. He was hero, no? I am not a great fan of Nimmi at any time - every time I saw her face on screen, I thought she was going to burst into tears.

    And while I absolutely love Shammi Kapoor, he didn't have that many great movies. Prince, Pagla Kahin Ka and such like were total yawn-inducers. But oh, the songs! Shammi had a ear for music. Did you know he usually sat in on the recordings?

    As for Edna, heroine or not, she should have died, no? She sang and danced in a nightclub; lord knows what else was going on, man! tauba tauba - how *dare* she not only live but also get the hero?? :)

    China Town is the only other movie I recall where a nightclub dancer gets the hero.

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  10. "I am not a great fan of Nimmi at any time - every time I saw her face on screen, I thought she was going to burst into tears."

    Oh, so true! And she did end up in a lot of films where she was so very weepy - Pooja ke Phool, for example; or even Mere Mehboob, or Aan... irritated the hell out of me. But she looks lovely in two songs that I particularly like, both from Udan Khatola: Mera salaam le jaa, and O door ke musaafir - she's so beautiful in that last one, even though she's walking to her death.

    Prince and Pagla Kahin Ka were not great Shammi movies. :-( If you haven't yet seen Sachchai (him with Sanjeev Kumar), please don't - awful. But give me Junglee, Kashmir ki Kali, Professor, Dil Deke Dekho or Tumsa Nahin Dekha, and I'll rewatch it any day! :-)

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  11. No, I haven't seen Dulari - that was the one with "Suhani raat dhal chuki", wasn't it? Awesome song - but I haven't seen the film. Was the storyline similar to Jhumroo?

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  12. I loved O door ke musafir! Do you know Udan Khatola was either taken from an old Hollywood movie? I do not know the name, but back in Bombay, before I came to the US, Star was showing an English movie that was set in Hawaii. I saw only the last part - where she is walking to her death (including the lei on her neck), sans the song, of course! I have never found out the name of the film! Do you have any idea?

    I adore Shammi, and will watch any of the movies you mentioned any time :) With the exception of Professor - I didn't like that movie somehow.

    Ujala is another movie with a *beautiful* musical score, but the movie was goddawful!

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  13. Yes, that is the one. It is not similar to Jhumroo at all. Dulari has babies kidnapped, gypsy camps, beautiful second heroine who has enough gumption for all of them, hero falls in love with gypsy, but parents want him to marry someone of their own social status; hero finds out he is adopted; no prices for guessing who the 'real' child is; and of course, a villain who loves heroine, and second heroine who loves hero; villain who loves second heroine, or the real heroine (I am not sure!). Anyway, to-tal masala!

    The hero was Suresh, which was a shame; one wonders why Madhubala and Geeta Bali would fall in love with him! The film *cried out* for a Shammi or even a Dilip.

    Dulari also had ae dil tujhe kasam hai and aankhon mein aa ja though Suhani raat dhal chuki is probably the best known of the songs (and the best).

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  14. I have heard a different version of this story. According to that the female singer it seems didn't arrive for the recording and KK said, doesn't matter. he will sing the female part too.

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  15. Harvey, somehow I doubt that. Because the music director was Salil da, and Kishore had to beg him to let him sing for himself! Salilda did not have a great opinion of Kishore as a serious singer, and Kishore had to prove his point several times over; so I cannot imagine Salilda letting him do that on a whim.

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  16. Hello Anuradha,
    Very nice post about an actress I have yet to get to know more! I think I've only seen her in Chalti ka naam gaadi! Well, as you say she's magnificent! Is she as "warm" (and beautifully warm) a personality as Nutan though? I'm just saying this because you started your post by saying that Madhubala was perhaps the most "beauteous" of all Indian actresses. Would this "beauteous" be different from "beautiful" in the sense that it's more sophisticated, more cinematographic? I wonder... I'm an unconditional preferrer of Nutan, but I do see beauty elsewhere too, of course!
    cheers

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  17. Yves, it might be considered blasphemy, but I too much prefer Nutan and Meena Kumari to Madhubala in terms of histrionics. But Madhubala had a charm that was all her own. She was not a great actress in the true sense of the word; but the camera loved her, and she loved the camera. Much more so, than her peers, I would venture to say. She did try to venture out in her selection of roles, but her ill health and the fact that her beauty was at once her blessing and her curse (very few people looked beyond her face) stopped her (and us) from knowing as much about her talent as her face.

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  18. Great write up. Agreed that MEA is *her* movie and probably the only one of her movies where her performance is talked about just as much as her beauty. Of the movies on your list, my favourites are Howrah Bridge, Mr and Mrs 55 and Tarana. Howrah Bridge because she oozes sensuality and sophistication and still retains that almost child-like innocence in every scene. Don't know how she does it. Mr and Mrs 55 because, Guru Dutt and Madhubala. 'Nuff said. And Tarana because the chemistry between her and Dilip Kumar is just breathtaking. Probably the best onscreen (and off!) chemistry I've ever seen in hindi cinema, only Raj and Nargis in Awaara come close. There can be no doubting that these two were crazy in love. Such a tragedy how things ended between them.

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  19. Thanks for dropping by - and the compliment :) I think her beauty overshadowed her acting abilities. And I totally agree about her on-screen and off-screen chemistry with Dilip Kumar. There is a great book about her out there - it's a biography called 'I Want To Live'. It is naturally biased but it is still a good read from that perspective.

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  20. I have died and gone to heaven! As an actress give me Waheeda or Nutan any day, but as eye candy - Madhubala was perfect. When she smiled, it seemed like she was smiling just for you - or at you, depending on a young man's fancy. LOL

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  21. I like your description! But Madhubala *was* more than just eyecandy. Unfortunately, her beauty overshadowed everything else.

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  22. She was an item with Premnath whilst shooting 'Badal' but the minute she met Dilip, it was all over. Premnath said in an interview once that he chose to remove himself from the equation when he realised how strongly Dilip and Madhubala felt for each other. It was quite noble of him but somewhat tragic, one gets the sense he never really got over her despite his marriage to Bina Rai. As for Bharat Bushan, Madhubala was actually good friends with his wife who passed away, so not sure how true his proposal story is. Pradeep Kumar did propose to her though.

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  23. Adding my voice to the chorus of 'great write up'. :) While Meena Kumari and Nutan are arguably powerhouse actresses of Hindi cinema, Madhubala remains my all time favourite. Beyond her inescapable beauty (the woman was to die-for gorgeous!), she was brimming with talent that we'd seen glimpses off in 'Mahal' and later in 'CKNG' and saw on full display in MEA. It only compounds the tragedy that is her life that she didn't live long enough to really capitalise on what turned out to be her final triumph. She had a spontaneity about her onscreen that I thought other actresses of her generation lacked and she had great timing, both comic and dramatic. Wish she'd worked more with Raj Kapoor, I can only think of the one film they did, their debut, but perhaps I'm mistaken? And considering how much they're still talked about to this day, she only did four films with Dilip Kumar, of which only 'Tarana' and 'MEA' are any good. I recently saw Sangdil, a dark, muted movie (although that could have been my abysmal copy at play!) that could have worked better had they done it much later in their relationship. 'Amar' would have been more palatable had Madhubala played Nimmi's character. If only she'd done 'Naya Daur'.

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  24. Welcome to my blog, Silver Qutie. And thanks for the compliment.
    she had great timing, both comic and dramatic
    You will have no argument with me on that score! :) Nor about her incomparable beauty. She did work with Raj Kapoor in movies other than Neel Kamal. Off hand, I can recall Chittor Vijay (1946, Amar Prem (1948), and Do Ustad (1959). And there was a movie Chalak that was left incomplete. She had the maximum number of films with Dev Anand (8) and Pradeep Kumar (5). I guess if it hadn't been for her father, her life trajectory may have been different.

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  25. Arjun Narayanan6 July 2012 at 09:40

    Wow... ur post beautifully captures her career.

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