Waqt ne cheen lia hausla-e-zabt’e-sitam
Ab to’ her hadsaye-gham pe tarapta hai dil
(Time has snatched away my fortitude
Now my heart agitates at each advent of grief)
This sorrow filled verse is penned by none other but the Tragedy Queen of Indian Cinema - Meena Kumari, who gave Indian cinema new heights with her charming performances but lived a live of melancholy and despair.
31st March marks her death anniversary; Raaga.Com pays her homage and recalls her career best performance in Guru Dutt’s movie SAHIB BIBI AUR GHULAM that made her immortal!
Though Meena Kumari gave number of hit films like BAIJU BAWRA, AZAAD, PARINEETA, DIL APNA AUR PREET PARAYI, KOHINOOR, DIL EK MANDIR, KAAJAL, etc. but she became immortal in Guru Dutt’s classic SAHIB BIBI AUR GHULAM in the emotional laden role of Chhoti Bahu, who takes to alcohol to please her hubby who ignores her and seeks entertainment with nautch girls at brothels.
From day one when Guru Dutt read the Bengali novel Shaheb Bibi Golam by Bimal Mitra, he was sure that the role was meant exclusively for Meena Kumari as it partially portrayed her own life and was more than symbolic about her estranged relationship with her husband filmmaker Kamal Amrohi.
However when Guru Dutt approached Meena Kumari for the role he was left disappointed as Meena Kumari was packed with many assignments hence she declined the role. But Guru Dutt was adamant hence he shot the entire film except Meena Kumar’s role as he waited for Meena Kumari to accommodate her dates to him. Eventually Meena Kumari gave her nod and even charged 25 percent more than her regular fees but Guru Dutt paid happily as he had his dream heroine playing the role.
Kudos to Guru Dutt because his patience paid off as Meena Kumari played the role to a perfect ‘T’ pouring all the pathos and sorrows appositely into the character of Chhoti Bahu.
The highlight of her brilliant performance was her emotive depiction though her eyes and her baritone. Since like the heroine of the film, Meena Kumari in real life too was alcoholic and miserable hence while portraying the role of Chotti Bahu she brought out her trauma and agony quite convincingly and realistically winning a lot of accolades! She won the Filmfare Best Actress Award!