Remembering Indian Venus Queen Madhubala


By Amjad Pervez

IV and last part

This film was Guru Dutt’s satire revolving around Anita (Madhubala) a young but naïve heiress who would get her inheritance only if she got married before a deadline. She is in the custody of her feminist aunt, e role played admirably well by Lalita Pawar who hooks up an unemployed cartoonist Guru Dutt to marry Anita and then divorce her. However, in the course of her ostensibly married life, she learns the true meaning of marriage and the deep significance of being an Indian wife, much to the dismay of her aunt, who, in adherence to her wayward beliefs, has been trying to instil every kind of anti-male sentiment in her niece’s ingenuous mind. Madhubala acted very well as a flamboyant heiress with Geeta Dutt’s ‘Preetum Aan Milo’. The other hit songs composed by OP Nayyar are, “Jaane Kahan Mera Jigar Gaya Jee” (a duet sung by Geeta Dutt and Mohammed Rafi) and “Thandi Hawa Kali Ghata” (sung by Geeta Dutt). Movie Mr & Mrs 55 was the fifth highest-grossing film of that year.

Phagun was a ‘Been Sapera’ movie based on the theme of incarnation. Madhubala was cast opposite Bharat Bhushan. Bijon, a young man from a wealthy agriculturist family, falls in love with Banani, a dancer. He faces opposition from his father and is asked to leave the palace. This film had a dozen songs composed by OP Nayyar. All became hit songs especially ‘Ik Pardesi Mera Dil Lei Gaya’.

The attire of a jogan was not becoming on Madhubala because of her smartness and delicacy that she exhibited in 1958 movie ‘Kalapaani’ opposite Dev Anand. In S D Burman’s music the song ‘Acha G Main Haari Chalo Maan Jao Na’ rendered by Asha and Muhammad Rafi. A fan Sagar Shrivastav observed ‘This kind of songs shows what real acting is about. No skin show to look extremely gorgeous and no six-pack or muscles to look most handsome, just pure elegance and at its best’.

In Kala Pani, Madhubala starred opposite Dev Anand who produced this film under the banner of Navketan Films. The film was directed by Raj Khosla, well known for mystery thrillers. The film was the remake of the 1955 Bengali film Sabar Uparey. Both films were based on A.J. Cronin’s 1953 novel ‘Beyond This Place’. The film has the hit song “Achchha Jee Main Hari” sung by Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhosle as reiterated above.

In the film,Howrah Bridge, Madhubala starred withAshok Kumar and played an Anglo-Indian Cabaret singer involved in Calcutta’s Chinatown underworld. In the song “Aaiye Meherbaan” from this film, she lip-synced a torch song dubbed by Asha Bhosle which has remained popular to this day. The present generation has also taken a liking to this song for its beat and seductive acting by Madhubala. Howrah Bridge connects Howrah to Kolkata over the Hooghly River. It features the well-known song ‘Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu’ sung by Geeta Dutt in the music of OP Nayyar. This song was liftedyears later for the film Salaam Bombay!

The film Chalti Ka Naam Gaari features Madhubala and Kishore Kumar in lead roles and latter’s brothers Anoop Kumar and Ashok Kumar. It was the second highest grossing film of the year. The film has hit songs such as “Babu Samjho Ishaare”, “Ik Larki Bheegi Bhagi Si”, and “Haal Kaisa Hai Janab Ka”. The movie was pure entertainment with funny sequences.

Madhubala ventured into films which had characters that had no glamour attached to them. One such movie was’Insan Jag Utha”. She was paired opposite upcoming Sunil Dutt. The other cast members were Nasir Hussain, Madan Puri, Minoo Mumtaz, Bipin Gupta and Nishi. It was produced by mystery based stories producer, Shakti Samanta. The story line is that Gauri (Madhubala) lives in a small village along with her father and a younger brother. She makes a living working as a labourer. One day she notices a stranger lurking around her house.The stranger subsequently introduces himself as Ranjeet (Sunil Dutt), who has just arrived from Bombay. Ranjeet and Gauri become friends and soon fall in love with each other. Ranjeet starts working for the Government which is in the process of building a dam, where Gauri also works. What Gauri doesn’t know is that Ranjeet is there for a reason. He wants to retrieve the suitcase of gold that he himself had buried in Gauri’s front-yard – the very same gold that he was caught smuggling five years ago – and the very same gold that he had spent five years in prison for. Working as a labourer deprived Madhubala of glamorous dresses and make up but enhanced her image as an actress.

Madhubala acted opposite Bharat Bhushan. The film had excellent Qawwalis composed by Roshan. Her filming of the song ‘Zindigi Bhar Nahi Bhoole Gi Woh Barsaat Ki Raat’ in sad romantic situation has become an ever green melody. This film was one of the biggest hits at the box office and highest revenue film of 1960.

This was the top film of Madhubala. Not only she but Dilip Kumar as Saleem, Prithvi Raj Kapoor as Akbar, Sobha Khote as Jodha Bhai excelled. Music by Naushad Ali was superb. Some sequences were filmed in colour but in the recent past the whole film was re-released in its colour version. An adaptation of Syed Imtiaz Ali Taj’s (of Pakistani origin) drama Anarkali (without giving any credit to him) it was director K. Asif’s dream.

Wikipedia states that Mughal-e-Azam had the widest release of any Indian film up to that time, and patrons often queued all day for tickets. Released on 5th of August 1960, it broke box office records in India and became the highest-grossing Indian film of all time, a distinction it held for 15 years. By some accounts, Mughal-e-Azam remains the highest-grossing Indian film of all time, adjusted for inflation. The accolades awarded to the film include one National Film Award and three Filmfare Awards at the 8th Filmfare Awards. Mughal-e-Azam was the first black-and-white Hindi film to be digitally coloured, and the first in any language to be given a theatrical re-release. The colour version, released in November 2004, was also a commercial success.

The part of Anarkali had first been offered to Suraiya but later went to Madhubala, who had been longing for a significant role. Madhubala suffered from congenital heart disease, which was one of the reasons why at times she fainted on set; she also endured skin abrasions while filming the prison sequences, but was determined to finish the film”.

1960 was the peak year for Madhubala because of the above two films.

Madhubala’s last film Jwala, although shot in the 1950s, was released in 1971. Madhubala had the distinction of working opposite all great heroes of their time namely Ashok Kumar. Dilip Kumar, Pardeep Kumar, Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor and Rehman. She worked with great actresses such as Geeta Bali, Suraiya, Kamini Kaushal, Nalini Jewent, Shyama, Shakila (film Armaan) and Nimmi. She worked for the great directors K. Asif, Mehboob Khan, Kamal Amrohi and Guru Dutt. Madhubala also became a producer and produced films like Naata (1955) and Mahlon Ke Khwab (1960) and acted in both the films. Her work in costume films Shirin Farhad in 1956 (song: Guzra Hua Zamana Aata Nahi Dobara) and Raaj Naath, with Pardeep Kumar in 1956. Madhubala’s first film with Kishore Kumar was ‘Dhake Ki Malmal’ in 1956. She starred with Shammi Kapoor in 1953 film ‘Rail Ka Dabba’.Her 1950 film Hanste Aansoo was the first ever Hindi film to get an “A” – adults only – rating from the Central Board of Film Certification.

According to Wikipedia, Madhubala’s funeral was not attended by Dilip Kumar and it is not known if he was invited. Madhubala was buried at Juhu Muslim Cemetery in Santacruz, Mumbai. Her tomb was built with marbles and inscriptions include ayats from the holy Quran and verse dedications. In 2010, Madhubala’s tomb along with those of Muhammad Rafi, Parveen Babi, Talat Mahmood, Naushad Ali and Sahir Ludhianvi, were demolished to make way for newer graves. Her remains were placed at an unknown location. What a pity!

 (The writer is the recipient of the prestigious Pride of Performance award. He can be reached at