You already love our recurring feature, Celebrity In The Spotlight, for bringing you insider insights on the lives and careers of our contemporary celebs. Now BollyCurry introduces yet another feature you're sure to enjoy! Fragrance of Yesteryears will take you on a journey into the precious golden era, focusing on one evergreen star whose contribution to classic cinema has made their legacy live on.
This week, we have Mumtaz Jahan Begum Dehlavi - better known by her stage name, Madhubala - who is universally regarded as one of the most beautiful and oft-mentioned actresses in film history. The actress joined the world of cinema at a very young age, and soon after, her name became synonymous with talent and charm for audiences across the continent.
In the next few years she gained repute as one of Tinsel Town's favorite leading ladies, and her song Aayega Aanewaala from the film Mahal (1949) solidified both her rise to stardom as well as a then teenage Lata Mangeshkar's in the world of playback singing.
Though her career was progressing marvellously, the young actress's personal life soon took a turn for the turbulent because of illness. In early 1950, Madhubala was diagnosed with heart disease as the result of a ventricular septal birth defect, and at the time heart surgery was neither safe or accessible as it is now. She managed to keep it secret from industry folks for quite awhile, but during the shooting of Bahut Din Huwe in 1954, news of her illness reached all of Bollywood.
Still, she persevered and continued to build her reputation as one of the most sought after talents that the industry would ever see. She worked alongside the most illustrious names of that era, including Ashok Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand and Shammi Kapoor, and she held her own against contemporaries like Geeta Bali. Even in terms of directors, she got to work with the cream of the crop including Mehmoob Khan and K.Asif, whose Mughal-e-Azam immortalized her in the mesmerizing role of Anarkali.
Regarding her personal life, it was well known that she was involved in a long-term and love-filled relationship with Dilip Kumar. However, a scandalous court case soon tore them apart. She was proposed to by many, but eventually she settled down with singer Kishore Kumar who converted to Islam in order to marry her. Observers would go on to reveal that they were a total mismatch, leaving this much beloved beauty's love life unfulfilled, but unfortunately she did not live long enough to conclusively prove or disprove the speculation. Her health worsened, and in 1969, Madhubala passed away at the shockingly early age of 36. During her short career, she starred in over 70 films and acquired a legendary status with her prodigious talent and irresistible charm.
- Mumtaz Jahan Begum Dehlavi adopted the stage name "Madhubala" upon the suggestion of actress Devika Rani, meaning a woman of honey.
- Madhubala had royal roots; she belonged to a Nawabi family from Kabul who were exiled to India by Afghanistan's army.
- In an interview, the late Shammi Kapoor revealed that while shooting for the film Rail Ka Dibba (1953) he used to forget his dialogues upon seeing Madhubala's beauty, but she was kind enough to help him get back on track.