Meena Kumari : Epitome of Tragedy Part – I

chand tanha hai asman tanha 

dil mila hai kahan kahan tanha 

zindagi kya isi ko kahte hain 

jism tanha hai aur jan tanha

This grief striken verse is penned by eminent actress of Bollywood Meena Kumari, whose life was a bagful of sorrows. Blessed with eternal beauty her natural elegance and her pain-filled voice made her a legend as one of India’s greatest actresses. August 1 marks the birth annivessary of the legendary actress who gave many super hits in the 50 and 60’s like PAKEEZA, BAIJU BAWRA, AAZAD, MISS MARY, SAHAB BIWI AUR GULAM etc. Raaga.Com remembers her and enlightens about the actress in a three part series.

Listen to Meena Kumari Songs on

Tragedy for Meena Kumari began with her birth when she was almost thrown away by her angry father who was frustrated over his wife for delivering a third consecutive daughter. Further at the tender age of six, when other children of her age played carefree, little Meena was put under the harsh glare of studio lights to support her family. It is reported that her father – a Parsi theatre Music Director wanted to make big in Bollywood but when he failed miserably he introduced all his daughters, Khursheed, Madhuri and Mahjabeen into films to fulfill his unfulfilled dream. 

While his other two daughters went into oblivion his youngest daughter – Mahjabeen – caught the attention of film maker – Vijay Bhatt – who introduced her in his movie – ‘LEATHER FACE’ (1938) as a child artist giving her a new ‘screen name’ as – Baby Meena – From ‘LEATHER FACE’ to ‘BAIJU BAWRA’ it took 14 long years for Meena Kumari to come into limelight. In fact she became so famous after this movie that for many years she was ‘Lux’s star of India’. Moreover her market rate from Rs. 15000/- escalated to whooping Rs 1 lakh per movie!!!.

After the phenomenal success of ‘BAIJU BAWRA’ she did Bimal Roy’s PARINEETA. In this movie with her natural performance she introduced a ‘new era’ in the acting department of Indian cinema – where histrionics took over glamour as epitomized earlier by such supreme beauties of the 30’s & 40’s like Devika Rani Naseem Banu, Veena, Jayshree etc.

NOTE: In the next issue read about relation with Kamal Amrohi