Madhubala (Hindi: मधुबाला, Urdu: مدھو بالا; Birth: 14 February 1933, Delhi - Death: 23 February 1969, Bombay), real name Mumtaz Jehan Begum Dehlavi was an Indian actress, popular in the 1950s and 1960s. An ideal Indian woman can be seen in her performance. Expression and exility were her main attributes of the face.
Madhubala was born on February 14, 1933 in Delhi in a conservative Pashtun family from Afghanistan. Her parents, Ataullah Khan and Begum Ayeeshah, had eleven children of which only six girls survived beyond the age of six, Madhubala was the third daughter. Ataullah worked as a driver for the Imperial Tobacco Company in Delhi, but fired and in financial hardship, he had the idea of making her work in the cinema in Bombay. Noticed by Devika Rani, then director of the studio Bombay Talkies, the nine-year-old girl starts under the name Baby Mumtaz in Basant coming out on the screens in 1942.
The film is a success at the box office and her interpretation of the song Ek Choti Si Duniya Re is noticed. She is only 14 years old and has already shot in six films when in 1947 she plays the young Raj Kapoor in Neel Kamal. This is the last time she is credited as Mumtaz. In her next films, Mere Bagwan and Chitor Vijay, also released in 1947, she adopts her final stage name: Madhubala. This pseudonym meaning 'honey girl', sometimes spelled Madhu Bala or Madhu-Bala, would have been given to her by Devika Rani.
She reached fame in 1949 when she was starred by the Bombay Talkies studio in Mahal, with a role originally intended for the famous star Suraiya. This is probably the first ghost story of Indian cinema. A young man is looking for an ethereal and veiled beauty, making appearances in a house. This film is a great success, making the actress, who is just 16 years old, a star. For many decades, most Indians will recognize the melody of the film's iconic song, Aayega aane wala (He will come), evoking lost love and reincarnation. She accepts as many films as possible to financially support her family. She has already appeared in 17 films when she played in the Taj, one of nine films she plays in 1949.
After the success of Mahal, she continues to work in film. In a recently independent India, she often interprets modern young women who test the limits of tradition. Her roles embody the optimism of her generation. Unlike other Bollywood actresses, she is not locked into any type of role. Her natural and discreet actress style allows her to play in serious social dramas, as in light comedies, or even period films.
In the early 1950s, she aroused the interest of Hollywood. She appears in the American magazine Theater Arts in an August issue of 1952, she is presented with a photo full page under the title: "The Biggest Star in the World - and she's not in Beverly Hills." The article describes her popularity in India, and speculates on her potential for international success. Frank Capra, Jr., visiting India, invited her to come to Hollywood, but her father Ataullah Khan refuses to let her go.
In 1951, she plays the female lead in Tarana and is associated with another male star, Dilip Kumar, who plays the role of a doctor falling in love with her. She becomes enamored with Kumar, 10 years older than her. It is the beginning of a long romance between the two actors, which fascinates their fans. Dilip Kumar recommends the choice of Madhubala as another main star and partner in the film Mughal-E-Azam, dedicated to the passion of a Mughal prince, Salim, for Anarkali, a slave and a dancer. It is the most expensive Indian film of its time, and for years, the most successful, even if its realization lasts a little ten years. One of her most famous sequences, the only one initially filmed in color (the film was later colorized), is a dance in a palace. Anarkali declares her love, in the presence of the Emperor, disapproving, with a bold refrain: "I only fell in love, I have nothing to fear". Another scene where Salim caresses Anarkali's face with a feather is considered one of the most erotic Indian cinema. But when the scene is turned, their flirtation is already over. Although impatient to marry, they ran into the multiple conditions posed by Madhubala's father. Kumar demands that she choose between him and his father. She chooses to stay true to her family.
Madhubala was born with a ventricular septal abnormality (a hole in her heart), detected in 1954. At that time there was no possible treatment, and the outcome was generally fatal in the most severe cases. Medical examinations carried out in London just after her marriage leave her only two years to live, and so require it to rest and calm as possible.
To the surprise of their entourages and despite the hostility of their families, Kishore Kumar married Madhubala second wife in 1960 during a discreet civil ceremony. Their union is not happy and Kishore moves away, pretending to be unable to care for her. Madhubala then settles, almost recluse and most often bedridden, in her villa of Bandra while Kishore leaves to live with his mother to Juhu.
She almost does not turn in the early 1960s. Her failing health no longer allows her to play and she must even sometimes be replaced by a lining, like her sister Chandal on the set of Boy Friend in 1961 for example. The production in 1964 of her latest film, Sharabi, is also seriously disturbed by the fact that she was unable to cover much of the scenes in the second half of the film. In 1969, she still hopes to return as a director. But she died the morning of February 23, 1969, days after her 36th birthday.
February 14, 2019, Google celebrated the 86th anniversary of her birth with a Google Doodle.