Remembering Meena Kumari on her 81st birthday

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: The effervescent tragedy queen Meena Kumari’s 81st birth anniversary was observed Thursday.

She is perhaps most known for her picture perfect portrayal of Chhoti Bahu in Guru Dutt’s legendary movie ‘Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam’. However, not many are aware that she started out as one of the first child artists that Indian cinema has seen. Seven year old Meena Kumari had appeared in the movie ‘Farzand-e-Watan’ in 1939, after being persuaded by her father.

Born as Mahjabeen Bano, Meena Kumari had a poverty stricken childhood and had to support her family in her early years. Despite her early struggles, she had quite a few successful Box Office hits by the early 60s including ‘Parineeta’, ‘Phool Aur Patthar’, ‘Dil Apna aur Preet Parayi’ and ‘Dil Ek Mandir’. She won four Filmfare Awards for her great skills as an actor, while she was nominated in many more. She was also a prolific poet and penned an album ‘I write, I recite’ with Khayyam, which released in 1981.

Despite her success as an actor and recognition by the industry and audience, her personal life was in shambles. She became an alcoholic after her divorce from filmmaker Kamal Amrohi with whom she did her last movie ‘Pakeezah’. Three weeks after the release of the movie she passed away from liver cirrhosis, after suffering for several years.

Her title as the tragedy queen mirrors her personal life, and yet she has given the film industry some fabulous imagery and metaphors of a star crossed heroine on screen and off screen alike. The legend lingers...

‘Sab tum ko bulate hain, Pal bhar ko tum aa jao,
Band hoti meri ankhon main,
Muhabbat ka ek Khwab saja jao...’

- Meena Kumari, ‘Meena Kumari Ki Shayari – Compiled by Gulzar’

She may not amongst us, but her memories will remain in hearts of her fans forever.

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