Last week, the gorgeous Madhubala was immortalized, when the Indian government released a stamp in her name.
Her youngest sister, Madhur Bhushan (whose real name is Zahida) gave a closer insight – to the media – about Madhubala’s life, her romance with Dilip Kumar, her unhappy marriage to Kishore Kumar, and her illness. Here’s the complete interview, in her own words:
# On Madhubala’s entry into films:
My father, Ataullah Khan, was working in the Imperial Tobacco Company in Peshawar, Pakistan, when he lost his job and decided to come to Mumbai. Madhubala was seven at that time. Her real name was Mumtaz Begum. We called her Mazliappa, as she was the fifth child.
My father started looking for a job. He also took Madhubala to film studios. She got work in Basant (1942) at the age of nine. The leading lady’s name was Mumtaz Shanti, so Madhubala was called Baby Mumtaz, when she was a child actress.
She got her first break in Kirdar Sharma‘s Neel Kamal. Kirdar’s wife was supposed to play the lead role but she passed away. As Madhubala knew the dialogues, she became a heroine at the age of 13. From this film onwards, she was credited as Madhubala. The film did not do well, but her work was appreciated.
Madhubala shot to fame in 1949 with Mahal. She was 16. At that time, no one realised that she was sick, not even my father. Madhubala was a healthy child, and very bubbly.
# On Madhubala’s illness:
Madhubala first vomited blood, when she was in Chennai shooting for S S Vassan’s Bahut Din Huwe (1954). She was treated, and she resumed shooting. Nobody thought she was sick, until she fainted on J K Nanda’s sets while shooting with Raj Kapoor on Chalack (1957). The film never got completed. That’s when, the doctor said that, she had a hole in her heart. She was 24 then.
She was advised bed rest for three months, but after a month of rest, Madhubala resumed work. Looking at her, one would not say that she was sick. She, herself, was not ready to believe, that she was sick.
Her last film was Mughal-E-Azam, which released in 1960. People think that she worked after that too, but that’s not true. She had completed all her films,, in the 10 years that it took for Mughal-E-Azam to be made!
Some movies released after she was bedridden, but she was in no condition to work after Mughal-E-Azam. In fact, in some of the scenes, you will notice that she looks pale and sick.
# On her family:
People say that, my family knew she was ill but we did not treat her; that we hid this fact from producers to get work. But there was no technology back then to check, whether she had a hole in a heart, so how would any of us know? We came to know only in 1957. After three years, she went to London for treatment. But it was too late. Madhubala died after nine years.
Everybody blamed my father. But he was protective about his daughters, since his sons had died at the ages of five and six. He was an uneducated man, but he was like Madhubala’s manager. He took care of her work, but never interfered on what films she should take up.
He never allowed Madhubala to attend movie premieres, because he felt overexposure would kill her career. He always wanted fans to crave for her.
# On her romance with Dilip Kumar:
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.
Dilipsaab 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 Dilipsaab till the day she died.
# On Madhubala’s marriage to Kishore Kumar:
When Madhubala fell sick and was planning to go to London for treatment, Kishore Kumar proposed marriage.
My father wanted her to wait and get a clean chit from the London doctors first. But Madhubala married Kishore Kumar out of stubbornness, and anger towards Dilipsaab. They got married in 1960. She was 27 years old.
Once the doctor gave his verdict – that she would not live for long – Kishorebhai brought her a house in Mumbai’s Carter Road and dumped her there alone, with a nurse and a driver. He would come once in about four months to see her. He did not take her phone calls. Kishorebhai was madly in love with Madhubala but once she returned from London, he dumped her. He was not a good husband.
Madhubala was very depressed, because no one came to meet her. Once upon a time, she was hot property in the industry. But when she was bedridden and dying, not a single person met her. Also, she could no longer dress up. She was in night gowns most of the time. She died at the age of 36.
May her soul rest in peace….