Actresses have come and actresses have gone, but we still insist on giving the coveted title of the most desirable woman in Hindi cinema to Madhubala. The screenplay of her life imitated the suspense, drama and romanticism of a tragic love story, a role that she played with intensity in many memorable films. Calling her just pretty would be a understatement. She was stunner, who won the hearts of many, but her end was tragic.
1. Madhubala joined Bollywood to support her siblings and parents.
Born as Mumtaz, Madhubala joined the Bombay film industry when she was 9 as her father lost his job. She was one of five children in the family and her earnings helped the family to survive hard times. By the time she turned 14, Madhubala was playing the leading lady (in ‘Neel Kamal’) with Raj Kapoor in 1947.
2. Mumtaz was rechristened Madhubala after ‘Neel Kamal’.
To find acceptability in the Hindi film industry, the budding actress took up Madhubala as her new name after the success of film ‘Neel Kamal’. Director Kidar Sharma later recalled that the young Madhubala was a professional. She worked like a machine, even skipped meals, traveled third class, but was always on time for work.
3. Setting her mind to master English, she did exactly that before turning 17.
Forced to earn a livelihood early in life, Madhubala was deprived of the opportunity to attend regular school. A strong willed person, she took to learning English and was fluent in the language by the time she was 17 years old.
4. Tales of her beauty and fame spread beyond India.
Theater Arts, an American Magazine, was bold enough to confer Madhubala with the title of being ‘The Biggest Star in the World!”. A rare honor that the beauty held even though she had never visited Beverly Hills.
6. Her relationship with Dilip Kumar filled gossip columns.
Madhubala had a string of relationships with many lead actors but the one with tragedy king Dilip Kumar caught the public’s fancy. They had met on the sets of ‘Jwar Bhata’, and confessed their love for each other during the filming of ‘Tarana’.
8. Madhubala’s father dragged Dilip Kumar to court for backing out of marrying her.
The heartbreak turned Madhubala into a wreck and, on realizing his mistake, her father later took Dilip Kumar to court, charging him with retracting from a promise to marry her. Dilip Kumar is said to have openly confessed his love for her in the courtroom by saying, “I shall always love her until the day she dies”.
9. Madhubala and Dilip Kumar had drifted apart when ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ was shot.
The professional performances and the passionate love scenes of blockbuster film ‘Mughla-e-Azam’ drop no hint that the Dilip-Madhubala love affair was over much before the two were paired for this film.
11. The overbearing presence of her father is believed to have destroyed her.
Seeking love and being led by her heart, Madhubala ended up in one disastrous relationship after another. With her father traveling to sets with her, the regular routine was to get straight back home after a hard day’s work. She was not allowed any social life. Even visitors at home were strictly supervised .
Despite being gravely ill, Madhubala was all prepared to make her directorial debut in 1969, with a movie named ‘Farz Aur Ishq’. Sadly, the movie could not hit the floor, as she finally succumbed to illness before that.