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Madhubala ' The Venus of Bollywood '

Madhubala -' The Venus Of  Bollywood '
Mumtaz Jahan Begum Dehlavi, known by her screen name 'Madhubala' was one of the most gorgeous actresses to have graced the screens of Bollywood. She had made an incredible contribution to the Indian film industry. She starred in several successful movies in the 1950s and early 1960s, many of which have attained a classic status. With her contemporaries Nargis and Meena Kumari, she is widely regarded as one of the most talented Hindi movie actresses.


* Real Name---------- Mumtaz Jehan Begum Dehlavi
* Screen Name------- Madhubala
* Born on------------- 14 February 1933
* Born at--------------- New Delhi, India
* Died on-------------- 23 February 1969(1969-02-23) (aged 36)
* Died at--------------- Bombay, Maharashtra, India
* Residence----------- Bombay, Maharashtra, India
* Nationality----------- Indian
* Height---------------- 5'4" (1.63 m)
* Occupation--------- Actress
* Years active-------- 1942–1960
* Spouse-------------- Kishore Kumar (m. 1960–1969)
* Father--------------- Ataullah Khan
* Sisters--------------- Madhur Bhushan (Zahida),Chanchal


Early life:

Madhubala was born as Mumtaz Jahan Begum Dehlavi in New Delhi, India on 14 February 1933. She was the fifth child among eleven children of a conservative Muslim couple. Her family was a Nawabi family from Kabul, Afghanistan, and a branch of the royal dynasty of Mohammadzai (also called Barakzay).

After Madhubala's birth her father, Ataullah Khan, lost his job at the Imperial Tobacco Company in Peshawar, he relocated his family to Mumbai.

Early career:

Young Mumtaz entered the movie industry at the age of nine as Baby Mumtaz. Her first movie 'Basant' (1942) was a box-office success. She played in it as the daughter of the popular actress Mumtaz Shanti.She gave a fabulous performance in her maiden film Basant (1942). Devika Rani was amazed by her performances and talent and potential and advised her to assume the name Madhubala, meaning "a woman of honey".

She went on to act in several movies as a child artist. Madhubala soon garnered reputation as a reliable professional performer. By the time she entered adolescence, she was being groomed for lead roles.

Her first break came when producer Kidar Sharma cast her opposite Raj Kapoor in 'Neel Kamal' (1947). She was fourteen when she was given a lead role. The film was not a commercial success, but her performance was received well.

During the next two years, she blossomed into a captivating beauty. After her lead role in Bombay Talkies production 'Mahal' in 1949, Madhubala attained immense popularity. Though she was only 16 at the time, her subtle and skilful performance, upstaged her seasoned co-star Ashok Kumar. The movie and the song 'Aayega Aanewala' in it heralded the arrival of two new superstars: Madhubala and playback singer Lata Mangeshkar.

Later work:

In 1960, Madhubala hit the peak of her career and popularity with the release of back-to-back blockbusters Mughal-e-Azam and Barsaat Ki Raat.

She was offered strong, author-backed roles, but her deteriorating health did not permit her to enjoy this period and develop as an actress. At this point Madhubala became so ill that she could not accept any new films or even complete her existing assignments.

In the biography by Khatija Akbar her frequent co-star Dev Anand recalled: "She was so robust and full of life and energy. She was always laughing and enjoyed her work. One could never conceive she was seriously ill. Then one day out of the blue she just disappeared...".

She did have intermittent releases in the early 60s. Some of these, like Jhumroo (1961), Half Ticket (1962) and Sharabi (1964), even performed above average at the box-office. However, most of her other films issued in this period were marred by her absence in later portions when her illness prevented her from completing them. They suffer from compromised editing and in some cases the use of "doubles" in an attempt to patch in scenes that Madhubala was unable to shoot. Her last released film Jwala, although filmed in the late 1950s, was not issued until 1971, two years after her death. Incidentally, apart from some Technicolor sequences in Mughal-e-Azam, Jwala is the only time Madhubala appeared in a colour film.

Final years:

In 1960, Madhubala sought treatment in London as her condition deteriorated.Complicated heart surgery was in its infancy and offered her some hope of a cure. After an examination the doctors there refused to operate, convinced her chances of surviving the procedure were minimal. Their advice was that she should rest and avoid overexertion, and predicted that she could live for another year. Knowing her death was imminent, Madhubala returned to India, but defied the predictions by living for another 9 years.

In 1966, with a slight improvement in her health, Madhubala tried working again opposite Raj Kapoor in the film Chalak. Film media heralded her "comeback" with much fanfare and publicity. Stills from this time showed a still beautiful but pale and wan-looking Madhubala. However, within a few days of filming, her frail health caused her to collapse and the film remained incomplete and unreleased.


Madhubala as producer:

She also ventured into production and made the film Naata (1955) which she also acted in.
In 1969 she was set to make her directorial debut with a film named Farz aur Ishq. However the film was never made, as during the pre production stages, she became terribly ill.


Serious illness:

Madhubala was found to have a heart problem after she coughed up blood in 1950. She was discovered to have been born with a ventricular septal defect, commonly known as a "hole in the heart". At the time, heart surgery was not widely available.

Madhubala hid her illness from the movie industry for many years, but one incident was widely reported by the media in 1954: She was filming in Madras for S.S. Vassan's 'Bahut Din Huwe' when she vomited blood on the set. Vassan and his wife took care of her until she was well again. She continued to work and established herself as an A-grade star.

Madhubala's family was extremely protective of her because of her health problem. When filming at the studios, she would eat only home-prepared food and drink water only from a specific well in order to minimize risks of infection.


Madhubala finally succumbed to her illness and died on 23 February 1969, shortly after her 36th birthday. She was buried at Santa Cruz cemetery with her diary by her family and husband Kishore Kumar. Madhubala's tomb at the Juhu/Santa Cruz Muslim cemetery was carved in pure marble and aayats from the Quran as well as verses dedicated to her. Controversially, her tomb was demolished in 2010 to make space for new graves.



In 2008 a commemorative postage stamp featuring Madhubala was issued. The stamp was produced by India Post in a limited edition presentation pack which featured images of the actress.

It was launched by veteran actors Nimmi and Manoj Kumar in a glittering ceremony attended by colleagues, friends and surviving members of Madhubala's family. The only other Indian film actress to be honoured in this manner is Nargis Dutt.

 Hollywood Interest:

In the early 1950s as Madhubala became one of the most sought-after actresses in India, she also attracted interest from Hollywood. She appeared in many American magazines such as Theatre Arts. In their August 1952 issue, Madhubala was featured in an extensive article with a full page photo. The piece was entitled: ' The Biggest Star in the World (And She's Not in Beverly Hills)'.It presented the actress as a mysterious and ethereal woman of mythical beauty with a legion of fans.

During this period, on a trip to Mumbai and its film studios, the American filmmaker Frank Capra was pampered and hosted by the elite of the Hindi movie industry. However the one star he really wanted to meet was conspicuous by her absence, Madhubala. A meeting to discuss an opening for Madhubala in Hollywood was proposed by Capra. Madhubala's father declined and put an emphatic end to her potential Hollywood film career.

Madhubala 'The Super Star':

Madhubala had many successful films following Mahal. With pressure to secure herself and her family financially, she acted in as many as twenty-four films in the first four years of her adult career. Consequently, critics of the time commented that Madhubala's beauty was greater than her acting ability. This was in part due to careless choices in film roles. As sole support of her family, she accepted work in any film, causing her credibility as a dramatic actress to be seriously compromised. Something she later expressed regret over.

She did have aspirations to appear in more prestigious films with challenging roles. Bimal Roy's Biraj Bahu (1954) being a case in point. Madhubala having read the novel, was desperate to secure the lead in the film adaptation. Assuming she would command her market price (one of the highest), Bimal Roy passed her over in favour of a then, struggling Kamini Kaushal. When Madhubala learned that this was a factor in her losing the part, she lamented the fact that she would have performed in the film for a fee of one rupee. Such was her desire to improve her image as a serious actress.

As a star, Madhubala did ascend to the top of the industry. Her co-stars at the time were the most popular of the period: Ashok Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Rehman, Pradeep Kumar, Shammi Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Sunil Dutt and Dev Anand. Madhubala also appeared alongside many notable leading ladies of the time including Kamini Kaushal, Suraiya, Geeta Bali, Nalini Jaywant and Nimmi.

The directors she worked with were amongst the most prolific and respected: Mehboob Khan (Amar), Guru Dutt (Mr. & Mrs. '55), Kamal Amrohi (Mahal) and K. Asif (Mughal-e-Azam) .

During the 1950s, Madhubala proved herself a versatile performer in starring roles, in almost every genre of film being made at the time. 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.

She was the archetypal lady fair in the popular swashbuckler, Badal (1951) and was next seen as an uninhibitted village belle in Tarana (1951). She was convincing as the traditional ideal of Indian womanhood in Sangdil (1952) and was well received in a comic performance as the spoilt heiress, Anita in Guru Dutt's classic satire Mr. & Mrs. '55 (1955). In 1956 she had success in historical costume dramas such as Shirin-Farhad and Raj-Hath. Equally successful in contemporary characterizations, she was memorable in a double role in the social film Kal Hamara Hai (1959). Madhubala played the cigarette smoking dancer Bella, and her more conventional saintly sister Madhu.

Suddenly in the mid-1950s her films, even major ones like Mehboob Khan's Amar (1954), fared so badly commercially that she was labelled "Box Office Poison". She turned her career around in 1958, with a string of hit films: Howrah Bridge opposite Ashok Kumar featured Madhubala in the unusual role of an Anglo-Indian Cabaret singer, embroiled in Calcutta's Chinatown underworld.

She made a big impact with a daring (for the time) Westernized image, with her cascading locks, deep cut blouses, fitted Capri pants and tailored Chinese dresses. Madhubala's sensuous torch song from the film, 'Aaiye Meherebaan', dubbed by Asha Bhosle, was a popular hit with audiences, and is widely quoted and celebrated to this day. Howrah Bridge was followed by Phagun opposite Bharat Bhushan, Kala Pani opposite Dev Anand, the perennial hit Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi opposite her would-be-husband, Kishore Kumar and Barsaat Ki Raat (1960), opposite Bharat Bhushan again.

In 1960, she consolidated these successes, and her super-star status when she went on to appear in the epic mega-budget historical, Mughal-e-Azam. This film is widely perceived to be the crowning glory of her career and perhaps the decade of filmmaking in India.


Madhubala and Dilip Kumar:

Madhubala had a long affair with actor and frequent co-star Dilip Kumar. They first met on the sets of Jwar Bhata (1944), and worked together again in the film Har Singaar (1949) which was never completed or released. It was two years later during the filming of, Tarana (1951), that their off-screen relationship began. They also became a popular romantic screen team appearing in a total of four films together.

Madhubala was known for keeping a low profile, never making public appearances (with the exception of the premiere for the film Bahut Din Huwe in 1954) and she rarely gave interviews. Film media often speculated over her personal life and romantic liaisons and Dilip Kumar was repeatedly mentioned. These rumours were confirmed with a bold and rare public appearance during their courtship in 1955. Madhubala was escorted by Dilip Kumar for the premier of his film Insaniyat (1955), a film with which she had no other association. Though this may have been another gesture of gratitude to the producer and director S. S. Vasan, who had cared for her earlier when she had taken ill during the filming of Bahut Din Huwe (1954), this appearance was significant for another reason. By attending the premiere officially escorted by Dilip Kumar, they publicly acknowledged their relationship.


The Controversial Court Case:

Madhubala's romance with Dilip Kumar lasted five years, between 1951 and 1956. Their association was ended following a highly controversial and widely publicized court case. B.R. Chopra, the director of the film Madhubala and Dilip Kumar were currently starring in, Naya Daur (1957), wanted the unit to travel to Bhopal for an extended outdoor shooting. Ataullah Khan objected and even claimed that the entire Bhopal schedule was a ruse to give Dilip Kumar the opportunity to romance his daughter. Finally, Chopra sued Madhubala for the cash advance she received from him for a film she now had no intention of completing. He also replaced her with South Indian actress Vyjayanthimala. Madhubala obediently supported her father despite her commitment to Dilip Kumar. Kumar testified against Madhubala and Ataullah Khan in favor of the director B.R. Chopra in open court. The case was lost by Madhubala and her father amid much negative publicity. Up until that point Madhubala had worked hard to gain a reputation as a reliable and professional performer with much good will in the industry. Her image was badly damaged after this episode. Madhubala and Dilip Kumar were effectively separated from that point on.

When rediff news spoke to her sister Madhur Bhushan, her account of the story was:

The reason Madhubala broke up with Dilip Kumar was B R Chopra's film Naya Daur, not my father. Madhubala had shot a part of the film when the makers decided to go for an outdoor shoot to Gwalior. The place was known for dacoits, so my father asked them to change the location. They disagreed because they wanted a hilly terrain. So my father asked her to quit the film. He was ready to pay the deficit. Chopra asked Dilip Kumar for help. Dilipsaab and Madhubala were engaged then. Dilipsaab tried to mediate but Madhubala refused to disobey her father. Chopra's production filed a case against her, which went on for a year. But this did not spoil their relationship. Dilip saab told her to forget movies and get married to him. She said she would marry him, provided he apologised to her father. He refused, so Madhubala left him. That one 'sorry' could have changed her life. She loved Dilip Saab till the day she died.

Madhubala and Kishore Kumar

She met her husband, actor and playback singer, Kishore Kumar during the filming of Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958) and Jhumroo (1961). At the time he was married to the Bengali singer and actress Ruma Guha Thakurta . After his divorce, because Kishore Kumar was Hindu and Madhubala Muslim, they had a civil wedding ceremony in 1960. His parents refused to attend. The couple also had a Hindu ceremony to please Kumar's parents, but Madhubala was never truly accepted as his wife. Within a month of her wedding she moved back to her bungalow in Bandra because of tension in the Kumar household. They remained married but under great strain for the remainder of Madhubala's life.



It was the film Mughal-e-Azam that marked what many consider to be her greatest and definitive characterization as the doomed courtesan Anarkali. Director K. Asif, unaware of the extent of Madhubala's illness, required long and grueling shooting schedules that made heavy physical demands on her, whether it was posing as a veiled statue in suffocating make-up for hours under the sweltering studio lights or being shackled with heavy chains. From 1951 through to 1959 Madhubala invested her best efforts into Mughal-e-Azam.

Post 1956 and her separation from Dilip Kumar, the film's remaining intimate romantic scenes were filmed under much tension and strain between Madhubala and her now estranged co-star. This emotionally and physically taxing experience is widely perceived as a major factor in her subsequent decline in health and premature death.

On 5 August 1960, Mughal-e-Azam released and became the biggest grossing film at that time, a record that went unbroken for 15 years until the release of the film Sholay in 1975. It still ranks second in the list of all time box-office hits of Indian cinema. Despite performing alongside the most respected acting talent of the industry, Prithviraj Kapoor, Durga Khote, and Dilip Kumar, critics recognised and appreciated Madhubala's intelligent and multi layered performance.

She received some recognition as a serious actress when she was nominated for a Filmfare Award. However she did not win, losing out to Bina Rai for her performance in the film Ghunghat (1960).


Madhubala 'The icon'

In her short life, Madhubala appeared in over 70 films. In all three biographies and numerous articles published on her, she has been compared with Marilyn Monroe and has a similarly iconic position in Indian film history.

Perhaps because she died before being relegated to supporting or character roles, to this day Madhubala remains one of the most enduring and celebrated legends of Indian cinema. Her continuing appeal to film fans was underlined in a 1990 poll conducted by Movie magazine. Madhubala was voted the most popular vintage Hindi actress of all time, garnering 58% of the votes, and out ranking contemporary legendary actresses Meena Kumari, Nargis, and Nutan.  In rediff.com's International Women's Day 2007 special, Madhubala was ranked second in their top ten list of "Bollywood's best actresses Ever" According to the feature, the actresses that made the final list were ranked on "...acting skills, glamour, box office appeal, versatility and icon status -- and the fact that each of them became a figurehead for Bollywood, ushering in a new wave of cinema..."

In 2004 a digitally colorized version of Mughal-e-Azam was released and, 35 years after her death, the film and Madhubala became a success with cinema audiences all over again.

In the past decade, several biographies and magazine articles have been issued on Madhubala, revealing previously unknown details of her private life and career. Consequently in 2007, a Hindi film Khoya Khoya Chand was produced starring Shiney Ahuja and Soha Ali Khan - the plot included some events loosely based on the life of Madhubala and other vintage film personalities.


 Interesting Facts:

1. Madhubala’s real name is Mumtaz Jehan Begum Dehlani. It was Devika Rani, founder of Bombay Talkies who gave her the title Madhubala.

2. She is the only Indian actress to have starred in a film whose title is her name. It was her first flop. On a side-note, we can NEVER  imagine a film, titled Katrina or Deepika or Kareena , these days.

3. Those who worked with Madhubala said her skin was so fair and translucent that when she chewed paan, “you could almost see the red colour going down her throat”.

4. Her discipline for work was unparalleled - she was always the first one to turn up at the studio and would leave sharp at 6pm. Punctuality, commitment to work and professionalism were her hallmarks.

5. Her self control was amazing. Her world began and ended in a film studio. She never attended any parties, film premieres of functions, film festivals, picnics or races for fund-raising initiatives.

6. She had no fascination for jewelry - neither on-screen or off-screen. She hardly wore any because she considered it a waste of money.

7. She was extremely generous though. When she had established herself as an actress, she would always carry about Rs 2,000-3,000 rupees with her, never hesitating to loan / donate it someone who asked for help.

8. Despite acting in 66 films, she never received an award. It is widely believed that her distracting good looks did her a disservice - names like Meena Kumari, Nargis, Waheeda Rahman was considered more of actress material.

9. Madhubala stopped acting when she was 27.

10. She had a fear of crowds and of being mobbed. No guests or journalists were allowed on her sets. The author found that she was ‘the grand dame of privacy’, unwelcoming, unapproachable, reclusive, obsessed about her performance to the point of rudeness.

11. Frank Capra was willing to give her a break in Hollywood. She refused.

12. One of her films, Hanste Ansu (1950) was given an adult certificate, leaving the 17-year old actress unable to see her own movie.

13. A rather bad film she acted in, titled Jwala, is the only film where you get to see Madhubala in colour. And what a treat it is - her rich, golden brown hair, accompanied with her milk-n-roses complexion.

14. She had a heart disease right from birth. She died at 36, the same age at which her Hollywood counterpart, Marilyn Monroe passed away.

15. When Madhubala was an infant, an esteemed Muslim spiritual man predicted that she would earn fame and fortune, but would lead an unhappy life and die at a young age.

16. Filmmaker Mohan Sinha taught Madhubala to drive a car when she was only 12 years old.

17. When nervous she suffered from uncontrolled outbursts of giggles and laughter which sometimes antagonised co-stars and directors.

18. When Guru Dutt first announced his classic film Pyaasa (1957) it was with Madhubala and Nargis in the feminine lead roles. The parts were eventually played by Mala Sinha and Waheeda Rehman who both became stars with the film.

19. With the exception of Geeta Dutt in Mr. & Mrs. '55 (1955), most of Madhubala's memorable songs were dubbed by Lata Mangeshkar or Asha Bhosle. Madhubala proved lucky for both. The songs from Mahal picturised on Madhubala in 1949 were some of Lata's earliest successes; nine years later, Asha's vocals for the actress in four 1958 films established her as a major playback singer, rivaling her own sister, Lata.

20.  Madhubala's sister Chanchal was also an actress and bore a striking resemblance to her famous sibling. She appeared in Nazneen (1951), Naata (1955), Mahalon Ka Khwab (1960) and Jhumroo (1961) alongside Madhubala. She also played prominent roles in Mehboob Khan's Mother India (1957) and Raj Kapoor's Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai (1960).


 Madhubala 'The Venus':

Madhubala was perceived as the 'Venus of the Indian Screen' 

(Baburao Patel's appellation that stuck to her).



1942  Basant
1944  Mumtaz Mahal    
1945  Dhanna Bhagat    
1946  Rajputani    
1946  Pujari    
1946  Phoolwari    
1947  Saat Samundaron Ki Mallika    
1947  Bhagwan
1947  Khubsoorat Duniya    
1947  Dil-Ki-Rani - Sweet-Heart
1947  Chittor Vijay    
1947  Neel Kamal    
1948  Parai Aag    
1948  Lal Dupatta    
1948  Desh Sewa    
1948  Amar Prem    
1949  Sipahiya    
1949  Singaar    
1949  Paras    
1949  Neki Aur Badi    
1949  Mahal    
1949  Imtihaan    
1949  Dulari    
1949  Daulat    
1949  Apradhi    
1950  Pardes    
1950  Nishana    
1950  Nirala    
1950  Madhubala    
1950  Hanste Aansoo    
1950  Beqasoor    
1951  Tarana    
1951  Saiyan    
1951  Nazneen
1951  Nadaan    
1951  Khazana    
1951  Badal    
1951  Aaram    
1952  Saqi    
1952  Sangdil    
1953  Rail Ka Dibba    
1953  Armaan    
1954  Bahut Din Huye    
1954  Amar    
1955  Teerandaz    
1955  Naqab    
1955  Naata    
1955  Mr. & Mrs. '55    
1956  Shirin Farhad    
1956  Raj Hath        
1956  Dhake Ki Malmal    
1957  Yahudi Ki Ladki    
1957  Gateway of India    
1957  Ek Saal    
1958  Police    
1958  Phagun    
1958  Kalapani    
1958  Howrah Bridge    
1958  Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi    
1958  Baghi Sipahi    
1959  Kal Hamara Hai    
1959  Insaan Jaag Utha    
1959  Do Ustad    
1960  Mehlon Ke Khwab
1960  Jaali Note    
1960  Barsaat Ki Raat    
1960  Mughal-e-Azam    
1961  Passport    
1961  Jhumroo
1961  Boy Friend    
1962  Half Ticket    
1964  Sharabi    
1971  Jwala    


Madhubala 'The Poetess':

She was quite a poetess herself. In her last few years, when she was ailing, she remarked sorrowfully:

           Jab zara kaam ki samajh aayee

             Toh uparvaale ne kaha

                Ab bas.

Biographies of Madhubala:

1." I Want To Live  -  The Story Of Madhubala " by ---- Khatija Akbar, Hay House, with the publisher's permission, Rs 399.

2. “Madhubala – Dard Ka Safar"  by ---- Sushila Kumari.

(1)" I Want To Live -The Story Of Madhubala " 
--- by Khatija Akbar

Madhubala's beauty, grace, comic timing -- everything about her has turned into a legend over the last 40 years.

Strangely, for a celebrity of her stature and repute there's hardly any documentation of the legendary actress' life and time.

That's what pushed Khatija Akbar to take up the task of writing a biography on Madhubala. In 'I Want To Live' The Story Of Madhubala the author has written about the lesser-known aspects of the actress' life.

Here are some excerpts from the book :-

** Dilip Kumar paid tribute to her talent :--

"Had she lived, and had she selected her films with more care, she would have been far superior to her contemporaries. Apart from being very versatile and an excellent artiste, she had a warm and cheerful nature. God had gifted her with so many things..."

** Nadira said about Madhubala :--

'She was ecstatically, exasperatingly beautiful', exclaimed Nadira in her characteristic style. 'She created a kind of reverence, she had such an aura about her.' Begum Para saw her sometimes in the mornings when she went out for a walk. 'You saw Madhubala's face and your day was made. She was a dream really '. Nirupa Roy recalled, 'She was perfect, right down to her toe-nails. There never was and never will be anyone with her looks'.

'Her complexion was so fair and translucent that when she ate a paan (betel leaf) you could almost see the red colour going down her throat', recollects Minu Mumtaz. Nimmi confessed to passing a sleepless night after her first meeting with Madhubala on the sets of their common starrer Amar. How would she fare in the film alongside 'this apparition, this angel in human shape?'

**   Shammi Kapoor said about Madhubala :--

The feeling of being struck dumb was a normal first-time reaction to Madhubala whether the hapless one was Shammi Kapoor or a casual visitor on her sets. For his first picture with Madhubala, P N Arora's Rail Ka Dibba (1953), Shammi Kapoor, dialogue forgotten and his mind a blank, could only gaze tongue-tied and lost. His brother Shashi Kapoor regretted the fact that he never got to act with her:

** Manmohan Desai said about Madhubala :--

 'She had a porcelain beauty, like Dresden china, very fragile, very delicate with a gorgeous infectious smile and very expressive eyes. There was a mystery about her.' Producer-director Manmohan Desai remarked: 'She was the only true beauty to grace the Indian screen and she was beautiful in every film with no exceptions.' Well-known journalist B K Karanjia discovered on first meeting her that 'none of her published photographs did full justice to her quite extraordinary beauty.' Filmfare, the premier film magazine of the time, wrote:

** J H Thakker spoke from a photographer's viewpoint:

'You could photograph her from any angle without make-up and still come away with a masterpiece. She was a cameraman's delight.' Her complexion is moon-kissed and the smile an irresistible come-hither but stay-where-you-are smile.

** On the sets of Mughal-e-Azam:

Madhubala was just twenty, with a natural, buoyant ebullience, when she joined the cast of Mughal-e-Azam. Her attitude was initially casual and she had no clear idea of how to approach her role. There was laughter and light-heartedness as she came on the sets. Shooting would begin, then, suddenly, Asif would order a pack-up. He let this go on for five days, recalled Sultan Ahmed (who was then Asif's assistant director), before he explained to his perplexed heroine that the role demanded a great deal more seriousness and that her mood should be appropriately subdued. On the sixth day when she came on the sets in her make-up and costume, there was a marked change. 'Ah', exclaimed Asif, with a satisfied puff at his cigar, 'now, you are my Anarkali'. And the shot was okayed.

Once she understood what was expected of her and what the demands of the role were, Madhubala rose to the challenge. She empathized increasingly with the character, breathed life into her portrayal and slowly grew into the role, imparting to it shades of her own personality.

Mughal-e-Azam gave her the opportunity of fulfilling herself totally as an actress, for it was a role that all actresses dream of playing. Regretting her own lost chance of working to the end of Love and God with K Asif, Nimmi remarks wistfully: 'As an actress one gets a lot of roles, there is no shortage of them, but there isn't always a good scope for acting. With Mughal-e-Azam, Madhubala showed the world just what she could do. All the signs of a good artist were there as far back as Basant, but Mughal-e-Azam was the final proof that she was an artiste par supreme.'

The set-up of the film was ideal. With the talent of each artist being given full play, there was no question of one being allowed to overshadow another. No film had offered her such intense creative satisfaction nor inspired her to such heights. And as an actress, she had consistently been under-rated. 'Her beauty has justly been praised but her talent was far superior and its potential was never fully exploited.' Mughal-e-Azam was one film to which Devika Rani's perfectly justified accusation did not apply.

As already mentioned, a number of Anarkalis had already been seen on the screen; the character was not new to the public. The memory of Bina Rai with the haunting Yeh zindagi usi ki hai was still fresh in the public mind, and it was a challenge to take on this well-known, well-loved character and make it successful once again. All doubts were put to rest when Madhubala's Anarkali emerged on the screen pulsatingly alive, vibrant and three-dimensional.

** Madhubala's break-up with Dilip Kumar:

Dilip Kumar and Madhubala were both very private persons, and their meetings were away from the public eye. 'They went out for drives after shooting', said a friend, 'or she picked him up on her way to the studios. She'd sound the horn and he came out and joined her. She did not enter his house. It looked very much like they'd get married any day. When Dilip Kumar married Saira Banu (in October 1966) she did not like it.'

The perceptive Nadira saw it too: 'She considered herself married to him. They were almost married. She wore his ring, he wore hers.' Dilip Kumar himself acknowledged it in a statement to a newspaper, saying a proposal had been sent from him. A film journalist of the time, Ram Aurangabadkar, reported that Dilip Kumar sent his eldest sister, Badi appa, to Madhubala's house with a marriage proposal, saying they'd like it to be in seven days. Ataullah Khan refused.

As love stories go, Dilip Kumar and Madhubala's had one essential difference. There were no obstacles to speak of, and the usual encumbrances and thorns in 'the path of true love' were hard to find. Both were Pathan Muslims, both at the peak of their careers, their ages were compatible and, most important each was single and uncommitted. Ostensibly, there was nothing to stop them from getting married if they so wished. Yet the two became alienated with a completeness that was unambiguous.

The scenario was bizarre. With feelings for each other just as strong, with no other individuals creeping into either of their lives, they persisted in proceeding to destroy their relationship almost as if compelled by forces beyond them. In the space of about five to six years, the near-perfect romance had succumbed to the dictates of its destiny. While Dilip Kumar appeared to emerge relatively unscathed, for Madhubala, it was the beginning of the end; the festering wounds she carried never really healed.

Emotional to a fault, guileless in the bargain, she was simply not equipped to deal with the shock of the break-up. Speaking of her, Nadira once remarked: 'She had not a strain of pettiness, of anything small. That girl did not know anything about hate. She was in love with love. Exuberantly, overflowing with love. She had so much to give.'

** 'Madhubala and Kishore Kumar as a couple':

In choosing to become Mrs Kishore Kumar, Madhubala had taken the most irrational decision of her life. The general reaction to her marriage to Kishore Kumar was echoed in Nadira's incredulous disbelief: 'From the sublime to the ridiculous! Oh my God! Madhu what are you doing? All her father's efforts to precisely monitor her life were coming to naught as her destiny continued its dance of destruction. Skirting Dilip Kumar, Premnath, Shammi Kapoor, or perhaps even Bharat Bhushan, with any of whom she may have found her happiness, it deposited her into a loveless marriage of sheer incompatibility.

Appearances were not deceptive in this case for, if Kishore and Madhubala seemed an unlikely pair, that is exactly what they were: A highly ill-suited couple who had married in haste and never found any happiness together. Kishore was to discover his ideal wife much later in Leena Chandavarkar, but for Madhubala it was the end of the road and there were no more chances. She had sought to escape her painful memories but succeeded only in inviting further disaster upon herself. Once again, she had taken a wrong decision. Once more, she paid for it.

The marriage was a disaster and Madhubala's most difficult years had begun. A time came when the Venus of the Indian screen could find no one who was willing to go with her when she wished to consult doctors abroad. An old acquaintance was so moved by her plight that she offered to accompany her; Kishore then relented and went himself.

They went to London in 1960 but the doctors who saw her both in India and abroad merely asked her to avoid any kind of stress, strain and anxiety, and to learn the art of relaxation. She was advised against having any children. In short, no hope of any cure was held out. She was told she could live for ten years or die within the year. Surgery for a hole in the heart, which became common shortly after Madhubala died, had not been heard of in the sixties.

After she was diagnosed as having a hole in her heart, she put on a brave face and her illness was kept a secret from the industry for many years. She frequently used to cough up blood on sets, and eventually her illness forced her to end her career.

She and Dilip Kumar met on the set of Tarana (1951) when she was eighteen years-old. While filming, she sent her hairdresser with a note written in Urdu along with a red rose asking him to accept it if he loved her, which intrigued and amused him and so he accepted the rose.

She and Dilip Kumar had a seven-year courtship, but abruptly ended when she could not face her father's opposition to Dilip and ultimately had to bow out of B.R. Chopra's film opposite him following a scandalous court case.

She was proposed to by Bharat Bhushan, Pradeep Kumar, and Kishore Kumar. She eventually married the latter of the three, Kishore, who converted to Islam to marry her.

** Madhubala and Meena Kumari-

Madhubala and Meena Kumari were never cast together in any film, and in real life they rarely met each other; but they are often spoken of in the same breath, often compared. A sense of tragedy and doom hangs over the memory of both actresses, for, in their separate ways, they were powerless against the grim realities of their lives. Always under the control of others, their own sense of direction was inevitably overruled. An odd helplessness emanated from both, for they had no armour of guile and ruthlessness to battle the world. Easily hurt, they caused incalculable pain to their own selves.

Unhappiness had become a fact of both their lives, but Meena Kumari hugged her sorrows close to her heart, almost reveling in the sadness. A lonely woman, she drenched herself in her poignant verses (she was well-read and a good poetess) and when the barbs of life became unbearable she reached for the bottle and lost herself in its miseries. On screen too she chose to become the symbol of suffering Indian womanhood voluntarily limiting the range of her histrionic capabilities. Her potential was far greater and there are instance of joyous performances in films like S M S Naidu's Azaad (1955) and S U Sunny's Kohinoor (1960) but the scores of sorrowful characters she opted to personify made her name a synonym for tragedy.

If Meena Kumari seemed made for grief, Madhubala was made for laughter. Melancholy was unnatural her. To her smiles came easily; the tears were thrust on her. She constantly reached out for happiness, had no truck with the bottle and faced the travails of her life with more inner strength. Perhaps the order and the discipline that she was used to made the difference. She lived with the knowledge of a mysterious medical problem, and in later years the specter of death was like her own shadow.

With Meena Kumari, Madhubala shared the horror of a disastrous marriage, and both returned to their own homes, but Meena did not additionally suffer the trauma of losing the only man she ever loved In fact, she never really fell in love with anyone. Her life was a futile quest for love and understanding, which she expected to find in the most unlikely quarters. She either did not or could not judge people. The number of those who rose to fame and wealth using Meena Kumari as a stepping stone must be legion.

(2) “Madhubala – Dard Ka Safar" 
--- by Sushila Kumari

“Her face is a rare combination of innocence and mischief. You could never predict when one will give way to the other,” says Sushila Kumari, who has revisited the painful side of Madhubala's journey in her biography, “Madhubala – Dard Ka Safar.

 Here are some excerpts from the book :-

Her father was a disciplinarian Pathan, who didn't want his daughter to mingle with her co-stars. She was not allowed to go for on-location shoots. When she was signed for Naya Daur, she was deeply in love with Dilip Kumar. But Kumar had a condition that she has to leave her family and work after marriage. Her father feared this prospect as she was the sole earning member and hence didn't allow her to go for the on-location shoot of the B.R. Chopra film. Things went to court, where it is said that Dilip Kumar accepted his love for the actress, but Madhubala could not cut her links with her family and hence the two parted ways on an acrimonious note.”


Three Memorable Movies of Madhubala

(1) Barsaat Ki Raat (1960)

'Barsaat Ki Raat' is a 1960 Bollywood film starring Bharat Bhushan, Madhubala, Shyama, Mumtaz Begum and K.N. Singh. It was directed by P. L. Santoshi. This film was released in black-and-white and is widely considered to be a classic.The film became particularly popular for its qawwali songs and was one of the biggest hits at the box-office in 1960. 'Barsaat Ki Raat was also one of the last films to star celebrated actress Madhubala.


Directed by --------- P. L. Santoshi
Produced by ------------- R. Chandra
Banner --------------------- Shri Vishwa Bharati Films
Story ------------------------ Rafi Ajmeri;
Dialogue ------------------- Sarshar Sailani;
Screenplay ---------------- Bharat Bhushan, P. L. Santoshi
Cinematography --------- M. Rajaram;
Editing ---------------------- S. Khochikar;
Art Direction --------------  Gonesh Basak;
Music by ------------ Roshan
Lyrics by ------------------- Sahir Ludhianvi
Release date(s)----------- 1960
Language ------------------ Urdu,Hindi

Star Cast:

*   Madhubala ------------ Shabnam 
*   Bharat Bhushan ----- Aman Hynderabadi / Kamal Lucknavi
*   Shyama ---------------- Shama
*   Chandrashekhar ----- Inspector Shekhar  
*   K.N. Singh ------------ Police Commissioner Khan Bahadur
*   Mumtaz Begum ----- Begum Khan Bahadur
*   Baby Shobha  ------ Razia Khan Bahadur
*   S.K.Prem ------------- Mubarak Ali
*   Peace Kanwal ------ Barrister Aftab Ahmed
*   Rashid Khan -------- Sudhakar
*   Khurshid Bawra ---  Shashi
*   Ratna ------------------ Shabab 
*   Mirza Musharraf ---- Fitna Faturabadi  

Story :
The Film opens with the a charming light-classical song of the rainy season "Garajat barasat saavan aayo re". Shyama and her sister Shabab, singers by profession, live with their father Mubarak Ali.

A struggling poet Aman Hyderabadi (Bharat Bhushan) is temporarily lodging with Mubarak Ali of Gulbarga, a qawwali maestro and his two performing daughters.  The younger, Shabab is a mischievous flirt, but the elder, Shama (Shyama) is deeply in love with the Aman who is ignorant of her love.

Their father’s musical career has suffered a setback because of a defeat in a qawwali “duel” with the party of the legendary Daulat Khan. Mubarak Ali beseeches Aman’s poetic help in winning a rematch.  But his own straightened circumstances compel the young man to first return to his home city of Hyderabad to seek his fortune composing ghazals for the local All India Radio station.

While roaming the countryside looking for inspiration for his first commission, Aman takes shelter from a nocturnal monsoon downpour on the verandah of a blacksmith’s cottage, and is soon joined there by a radiant young woman who has been drenched by the storm; a lightning flash causes her to involuntarily clutch his chest, their eyes meet, and then….he lights a cigarette and she departs.

She is Shabnam (Madhubala), the elder daughter of the city’s Police Commissioner (K. N. Singh), and an ardent lover of poetry—especially the ghazals of Aman Hyderabadi, whose divan or book of odes she keeps at her bedside.

"Zindagi bhar nahin Bhoolegi Wo Barsaat Ki Raat"

 Naturally, she is excited when the radio announces that he will himself now perform a new one, and so begins the film’s remarkable title song 'Zindagi bhar nahin', in which the poet soulfully recounts his chance meeting with a beautiful girl during a thunderstorm.

"Ek Anjaan Haseena Se Mulakat Ki Raat"

As the verses unfold, their artful rendition of the details of the meeting makes the delighted Shabnam gradually realize that the man she recently met was indeed her beloved poet.

Events soon bring the two together again when Aman surreptitiously sings to Shabnam during a poetic function, (Maine shaayad tumhen, “Perhaps I have seen you somewhere before”), and then is hired to tutor Shabnam’s kid sister.  But their budding love cannot be concealed, and it arouses the ire of Shabnam’s stern policeman father, who despises poets and moreover has plans to marry his daughter to one Aftab, the son of a judge-crony in Lucknow.  When he banishes Aman from the house, Shabnam escapes to join her lover, and their flight is assisted by the blacksmith at whose home they first met.

They go to Indore. There, for a livelyhood, he sings songs on AIR Indore under a fake name of Kamal Lakhnavi. But unfortunately Shekhar recognises his voice and rushes to bring him. When Aman gets to know his plan, he immediately leaves Indore with Shabnam and both flee to Jabalpur where his lawyer friend Sudhakar lives. Sudhakar and his wife Shashi welcome and suggest them to marry as soon as possible.

But before they can arrange a marriage ceremony Shabnam is recaptured by Shekar and her father’s minions and brought back to Hyderabad. Her father plans to marry her with Aftab Ahmed after eid so he takes her to Lucknow. By the same train  Aman goes to Lucknow to meet his childhood friend Aftab. On the way he meets Fitna Faturabadi a pretentious, third-rate poet and agrees to help him by composing fresh songs for the Hyderabadi singer Chand Khan, whose qawwali party will face Mubarak Ali’s in a competition. Aman goes to meet Aftab's house where he sees Shabnam, Aftab's future wife. Shabnam requests him to leave. Aman comes and stays with Fitna.

In the competition Chand Khan wins over Shama and Shadab due to superior lyrics and in the process Chand and Shadab start liking each other. A rematch is arranged, and this time Aman rallies to the aid of his old friend Mubarak Ali  and the song 'Pahechanta hoon khoob' leads Chand Khan to defeat and to marriage to his young conqueror Shabab.

 "Nigaah E Naaz Ke Maaron Ka Haal Kya Hoga"

In the competition Chand Khan wins over Shama and Shadab due to superior lyrics and in the process Chand and Shadab start liking each other.

"Jee Chahta hai Choom Loon Apni Nazar Ko Main"

A rematch is arranged, and this time Aman rallies to the aid of his old friend, and the song ' Pahechanta hoon khoob' leads Chand Khan to defeat and to marriage to his young conqueror Shabab.

During competition with Daulat Khan as Chand Khan accompanies his new wife Shabab on harmonium, she and her sister Shyama match the maestro Daulat Khan verse-for-verse with pointed lessons on the trials of lovers.

"Na To Carvan Ki Talash Hai "

But when her own inner pain prevents Shama from continuing, Aman takes over, spinning fresh couplets that up the ante into the higher realms of mysticism and religious syncretism, with allusions to Hindu mythology including, among other things,

"Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai Ishq Ishq"
The whole contest is being simulcast on All India Radio-Ajmer, and that Shabnam and her family are, naturally, listening in their lodgings, it is no surprise that the ecstatic climax of the qawwali—a sequence that should have all good-hearted viewers practically jumping out of their seats—will also triumphantly resolve the tangled strands of the plot. On listening Aman's voice Shabnam rushes to meet him.

At last Aman's party wins. Shabnam comes to meet Aman. There Shekhar, Aftab, Shabnam's mother and father come to take her. As Shekhar proceeds,  begum stops him. When Khan Bahadur is about to shoot Aman , Aftab stops him. At last Khan Bahadur agrees. The film ends with a rain-drenched happy ending scene.


Sound Track:
Music by ------------ Roshan
Lyrics by ------------------- Sahir Ludhianvi

Female singers: Asha Bhonsle, Kamal Barot, Lata Mangeshkar, Sudha Malhotra, Suman Kalyanpur
Male singers: S. D. Batish, Balbir, Shankar Shambhoo, Manna Dey, Mohammad Rafi

* Zindagi Bhar Nahin Bhoolegi  -------- Mohammed Rafi
* Zindagi Bhar Nahin Bhulegi ----------- Lata Mangeshkar           
* Maayus To Hun Vaade Se Tere ----- Mohammed Rafi       
* Maine Shaayad Tumhen  --------------- Mohammed Rafi   
* Nigaah E Naaz Ke Maaron Ka ------ Asha, Sudha Malhotra   
* Mujhe Mil Gayaa Bahaanaa ------------ Lata Mangeshkar   
* Garajat Barasat Saavan Aayo  -------- Kamal Barot, Suman Kalyanpur   
* Na Kanjar Uthegaa ------------------------ Asha, Balbir, Sudha Malhotra   
* Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai (2) ------------------- Mohammed Rafi       
* Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai -------- Sudha Malhotra, S.D. Batish, Manna Dey, Rafi
* Naa To Kaaravaan Ki Talaash ---- Asha, Manna Dey, Rafi, Sudha Malhotra

Interesting Facts:

** The songs are beautiful and the qawwali sequences sublime. The songs do not occur randomly as is often the case in Indian movies; instead they are  an integral part of the story itself which involves a poet and singer as well as poetry competitions that were once common.

** All the three qawwalis --
* Nigahein Naaz Ke Maron Ka Haal Kya Hoga
* Pehchanta Hoon Khoob Tumhari Nazar Ko Main ... Jee Chahta hai Choom Loon  Apni Nazar Ko Main
* Na To Carvan Ki Talash Hai  ... Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai Ishq Ishq
 are wonderfully written, composed and picturised.


(2) Howrah Bridge (1958)

Howrah Bridge is a 1958 film directed by Shakti Samanta. Its name is a reference to Howrah Bridge, which connects Howrah to Kolkata over the Hooghly River. It features the well known Hindi song "Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu". This song was sung by Geeta Dutt and picturised on Helen.The sensuous club number "Aaiye Meherbaan" picturized on Madhubala was also very memorable.

This was not only Shakti Samant’s best movie but it was his first movie as an independent producer and director.


Directed by  ----------- Shakti Samanta
Produced by ----------- Shakti Samanta
Written by --------------- Vrajendra Gaur
Cinematography ------- Chandu
Art Direction ------------ Sant Singh
Lyrics --------------------- Qamar Jallalabadi and Hasrat Jaipuri
Music --------------------- O.P.Nayyar
Distributed by ---------- Shakti Films
Release date(s)-------- 1958
Running time ---------- 153 min.
Country ----------------- India
Language -------------- HindI

Star Cast:

    * Madhubala ............ Edna
    * Ashok Kumar ....... Prem Kumar / Rakesh
    * K. N. Singh .......... Pyarelal
    * Om Prakash ......... Shyamu, Tangewala
    * Madan Puri ........... John Chang
    * Dhumal .................. Uncle Joe
    * Kammo .................. Chhamia
    * Sunder ................... Bhiku / Bhikarilal
    * Brahm Bhardwaj ... Madan & Rakesh's dad
    * Helen ..................... Dancer / Singer
    * Mehmood .............. Wedding Dancer
    * Minoo Mumtaz ...... Wedding Dancer
    * Chaman Puri ........ Madan



Prem Kumar (Ashok Kumar) lives with his brother, Madan and his dad in Rangoon. Madan has fallen into bad company and steals the family's priceless heirloom, a jeweled dragon mask, some cash and runs away to India. Prem determines to recover the mask and bring his brother.

Meanwhile Madan reaches Calcutta where he meets his friend Shyamu, tongawala in front of a shady hotel. Madan goes to meet John Chang and fixes a deal to sell the Dragon , Chang asks him to come on next day. Then Chang tells his partner Pyarelal. His goons chase Madan and kill him, and take dragon mask from him and then they take his body to Howrah Bridge to throw in the river. But there a man Bhiku sees them. They run away leaving the dead body behind. The news is published in news papers. Bhiku is Shyamu's relative, he does not tell anybody about this incident.

 Prem comes to Calcutta by ship in order to find out the mystery behind Madan's death, and also try to recover the family heirloom. On the way he meets Joe who gives him his card and invites him to see his niece Edna's dance.

On reaching Calcutta he meets Shyamu who takes  him to the shady hotel run by Chang and  Pyarelal. He stays there under a fake name (Rakesh). There he sees Edna and her uncle Joe who come to meet Chang and Pyarelal.

With the help of Shyamu Rakesh manages to get a room in Uncle Joe's hotel where Edna performs a dance every night.

That hotel is near Howrah Bridge. Pyarelal comes to meet Edna and sees Rakesh there. Pyarelal likes Edna.

Prem Kumar succeeds in finding that his brother had fallen into a trap set by John Chang, a small-time don and Pyarelal.

Rakesh goes to a jewellery shop in bada bazar and orders for a duplicate dragon. Rakesh meets Chang in disguise of an arab and shows an interest in selling him dragon. Chang gets suspicious and refuses and as he goes to other room to inform Pyarelal, Rakesh escapes.

Rakesh finds himself attracted to Edna, and he confides in her why he is here and she decides to assist him.

Rakesh annonces to give a reward of Rs.10,000. Bhiku wants to get reward. He tells everything to Shyamu. Shyamu goes to tell Rakesh that Bhiku had witnessed his brother's murder, and sets off to find him. Before he could meet him, Bhiku goes missing. Bhiku goes to police to tell everything. Pyarelal's goons kidnap him.

Rakesh goes to Chang's hotel in search of Bhiku. Meanwhile a desperate Chang ;annoyed with Pyarelal, tries to flee from Calcutta taking all the money with him. Pyarelal murders him and informs police. Pyarelal who is also jealous of Edna's attention, attempts to turn the tables on Prem, framing him for Pyarelal's own crimes.

Police chases Rakesh. At last  Rakesh succeeds to prove himself innocent and chases Pyarelal on the Howrah Bridge. Pyarelal is shot dead by the police. Prem takes Edna to Rangoon with him.


Sound Track:

Music by ------- O. P. Nayyar
Lyrics by ------- Qamar Jallalabadi and Hasrat Jaipuri

  Songs -------------------------------------Singers----------------Lyricist

* Meraa Naam Chin Chin Chu ------- Geeta Dutt-------- Qamar Jalalabadi
* Aaiye Meharabaan Baithiye --------  Asha -------- Qamar Jalalabad
* Dekh Ke Teri Nazar ------------------- Asha, Rafi--- Qamar Jalalabadi
* Iit Ki Dukki Paan Kaa Ikkaa ------- Rafi ------------ Qamar Jalalabadi
* Goraa Rang Chunariyaa Kaali  ---- Asha, Rafi-------------Qamar Jalalabadi
* Muhabbat Kaa Haath  ---------------- Asha, Rafi-------------Qamar Jalalabadi
* Mai Jaan Gayi Tujhe Saiya--------- Shamshad Begum, Rafi ---- Hasrat Jaipuri
* Ye Kya Kar Dala Tune--------------- Asha ------------ Hasrat Jaipuri


Interesting Facts :

** The sensuous Madhubala makes her presence felt in a captivating fashion from the time she swings to Asha Bhonsle’s sensational “Aayiye Meherbaan, Baithiye Jaane Jaan”. Asha has put her soul in this song and Madhubala, remarkably restrained and glowing in beauty, brings justice with her graceful movements to the tune of O. P. Nayyar’s melodious music.

** Geeta Dutt’s evergreen “Mera Naam Chin Chin Chun” was made immortal by a ravishing Helen, then just 18. 

** In a wedding dance Mehmood appeared with his sister Meenu Mumtaz.


(3) Chalti ka Naam Gaadi (1958)

Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi is a 1958 Indian comedy film. The film featured Kishore Kumar, his two brothers Anoop Kumar and Ashok Kumar, and Madhubala. Kishore Kumar sang many of the songs in the film, along with Asha Bhosle. The music was composed by SD Burman, and the lyrics were written by Majrooh Sultanpuri. The success of the film led the brothers to act in another comedy titled Badhti Ka Naam Dadhi (That which grows is a beard) to rhyme with the name of this film.


* Directed by ---------- Satyen Bose
* Produced by -------- Anoop Sharma
* Written by ----------- Govind Moonis and Ramesh Pant (dialogues)
* Cinematography --- Aloke Dasgupta
* Editing by ----------- R.M. Tipnis
* Music by ------------ Sachin Dev Burman
* Lyrics by ------------ Majrooh Sultanpuri
* Distributed by------ M/S Issardas Naoomal
* Release date(s)---- 1 January 1958[1]
* Running time ------ 173 min
* Country ------------- India
* Language  --------- Hindi
* Box office ----------- INR 2.5 crore (US$498,750)

Star Cast:  

* Kishore Kumar ------ Manmohan Sharma ( Mannu )
* Madhubala  ---------- Renu
* Ashok Kumar -------- Brijmohan Sharma
* Anoop Kumar -------- Jagmohan Sharma ( Jaggu )
* Veena ----------------- Kamini
* K. N. Singh ---------- Raja Hardayal Singh
* Sajjan ----------------- Prakash Chand
* Sahira ---------------- Sheela
* Mohan Choti--------- Maujiya
* Cukoo ---------------- Dancer/Singer
* Helen ----------------- Dancer/Singer



Brijmohan Sharma (Ashok Kumar), Manmohan Sharma (Kishore Kumar), and his brother Jagmohan Sharma (Anoop Kumar) run a garage. The eldest brother Brijmohan hates women and doesn't allow any women or pictures of them in his garage unless its an emergency.

One day, while Manmohan is on the night shift, Renu (Madhubala) comes to the garage seeking help as her car brakes down.

 Renu gets angry at Manmohan because he is sleeping when he is supposed to be on duty. Manmohan doesn't like the fact that Renu shouted at him and initially refuses to repair her car, but finally agrees. Manmohan fixs the car, and Renu leaves, forgetting to pay Manmohan for his services. He tells his brother Brijmohan about this and realizes that Renu forgot her purse in the garage. Manmohan goes through it and finds a pass to a concert. Manmohan goes to this concert to recover his money. When Manmohan reaches the venue, he is not allowed to enter as the pass has Renu's name on it. Not wanting to let go of his money, Manmohan waits in Renu's car and to meet her when she comes out. He, however, falls asleep and Renu doesn't notice him; she drives home and parks in her garage with Manmohan in the car. When Manmohan wakes up, he gets hungry and looks for some food in Renu's garage. A servant in the house sees this and chases Manmohan, who manages to escape. On his way home, he notices a few men dumping a dead body on the road and fleeing. When he tells his brothers about his night the next morning, they have a hearty laugh at his expense.

Later, Renu calls the garage asking for help with her car and assuring she will pay back her fees. Manmoham refuses to go to her house, fearing that he will be recognized by Renu's servant and will get into trouble; Jagmohan decides to go. Jagmohan meets Sheela (Sahira) in Renu's house and the two start talking. Jagmohan is, however, afraid of women. He gets nervous because Sheela is around and can't repair the car. After Jagmohan takes off (not before drinking 10 glasses of water due to anxiety), Renu decides to call Manmohan. Meanwhile, Renu's father is approached by Raja Hardayal Singh (K. N. Singh), who wants to get his younger brother Raja(Sajjan) married to Renu. Renu's father decides to talk to Renu about this, not knowing that Raja Hardayal and his brother are crooks — Manmohan saw Raja Hardayal's brother dump a body.

As Renu is falling for Manmohan and the crooks desperately want her inheritance, Renu and Manmohan are captured by Hardayal's men. In captivity, they meet Kamini, whose photo Renu had found in Brijmohan's room. Brijmohan and Kamini were in love, but she was married off to Raja Hardayal. Brijmohan is under the impression that she dumped him for a richer man; as a result, he decides that he never wants to associate with women again. Kamini tries to free Renu and Manmohan, but a guard enters. Kamini, however, is able to escape and goes looking for Brijmohan. Meanwhile, Raja Hardyal Singh captures Renu's father and forces him to get Renu married to his brother, threatening to kill Manmohan if he doesn't. Before Raja Hardyal Singh has his way, Brijmohan is bought to the scene by Kamini. Brijmohan, who is a boxing champion, fights Raja Hardyal Singh's men with the help of his two brothers. In the end, Brijmohan and his brothers are victorious. Manmohan decides to marry Renu, Brijmohan decides to marry Kamini, and Jagmohan decides to marry Sheela.


Interesting Facts:

* Kishore Kumar apparently made Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, hoping it would fail commercially. He wanted to show losses in his income, and thus avoid paying a huge income tax to the authorities. So he made two films - Lookochuri (Bengali) and Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, and waited eagerly for them to collapse.

* However, both surprisingly went on to become box-office successes. Kumar was so disgusted with this that he gifted Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi and all its rights to his secretary Anoop Sharma, who retained the copyright. The income tax case on Kishore Kumar was not solved even after forty years.


** Soundtrack by ------ S.D. Burman
** Released ------------- 1958
** Language ------------- Hindi
** Label-------------------- Saregama
** Music by ------------- S.D. Burman, Jaidev
** Lyrics by ------------ Majrooh Sultanpuri

No.     Title                                                 Singer(s)
1.     "In Haathon Se Sab Ki Gaadi"          Kishore Kumar    
2.     "Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi Si"            Kishore Kumar    
3.     "Hum The Woh Thi"                    Kishore Kumar    
4.     "Babu Samjho Ishare"                  Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey    
5.     "Haal Kaisa Hai Janaab Ka"            Asha Bhosle, Kishore Kumar    
6.     "Main Sitaron Ka Tarana"               Asha Bhosle, Kishore Kumar    
7.     "Hum Tumhare Hain"                   Asha Bhosle, Sudha Malhotra    
8.     "Rukh Jao Naa Jee"                    Asha Bhosle

Box office:

Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi did really well and was declared a "super-hit" at the box office.It was the second highest grossing film of the year and 21st highest grossing film of the 1950s.


Making of Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi

Kishore Kumar apparently made Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi hoping it would flop. He wanted to show losses in his income and avoid paying a huge income tax to the authorities. So he made two films, Lookochuri in Bengali and Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi in Hindi, and waited eagerly for them to collapse.

Both went on to be raging successes. Kishore was so disgusted with this that he gifted Chalti Ka Naam… and all its rights to his secretary Anoop Sharma, who retained the copyright.The income tax case on Kishore Kumar was not solved even after forty years. Two songs in the film were plagiarised on Kishore’s request. Hum the who thi…is a take-off on The Water MellonSong and Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi sion 16 Tons from the album 16 Tons of Tennessee Ernie.

Amit Kumar’s favourite song is Paanch rupaiya barah anna, the picturisation of which is the only memory he has from the days of the film’s production. The song was shot at Roopkala studio and also recorded there in the recording van they had in those days. R D Burman and Jaydev were assistants of music director S D Burman in the film.

The romance between Kishore Kumar and Madhubala started during the picturisation of the song Haal kaisa hai janab ka in Mahabaleshwar. It is believed that Kishore Kumar stood Madhubala up during their first date. He promised to meet her somewhere outside the hotel where she waited but didn’t turn up as he was busy with S D Burman and the music department.

After Mahabaleshwar, Aloke Dasgupta, the cameraman of the film, who was also the couple’s confidante, stopped going to Kishore’s house as he did not know how to face Kishore’s wife Ruma. Aloke advised Kishore to think twice before taking any step further with Madhubala, advice which Kishore obviously disregarded.

Madhubala and Kishore Kumar were first seen together in J K Nanda’s Dhake Ka Malmal (1956).

Chalti Ka Naam… was originally supposed to be directed by Kamal Mazumdar who had also made Looko Churi. On the day of the mahurat of Chalti…, Kamal Mazumdar panicked. He went to Kishore’s house just three hours before the event and confessed his under-confidence in directing the three brothers together. Kishore immediately thought of Bandi, a film which starred him and Ashok Kumar and decided to take its director Satyen Bose for this venture.

Just in time for the mahurat, a much-confused Satyen Bose was rushed to the sets where he was made to direct the mahurat as well. The story, characters and cast were fed to him much later.

The picturisation of the song Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si… was the fire test for cameraman Aloke Dasgupta, who was just 23 years old. The director, Satyen Bose, had no faith in a new cameraman but Kishore Kumar insisted that he try Aloke out. Satyen Bose agreed to take him only on the basis of how he shot the song.

Madhubala did not want to do the scene in which the villain Sajjan proposes to her. She thought the dialogues were not proper and she would feel uncomfortable doing it. Director Satyen Bose had to employ various tactics for hours in order to convince her to do the scene.

While shooting for the song on a lake in Mahabaleshwar, cameraman Aloke Dasgupta fell off the boat into the water and almost drowned as he didn’t know how to swim. Madhubala was so scared by the incident that Kishore had to call for a pack-up.

Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi was the first out-and-out comedy film to be a hit in the Indian film industry. Kishore was inspired by the art of Hollywood’s Marx brothers. It was also the first film that presented the titles in a comical style.

Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi was followed by another venture, Rukti Ka Naam Khatara. But like Kishore’s other ventures – Pyaar Ajnabi Hai, Suhana Geet and Band Master Chik Chik Boom – this one never saw the light of day.