The magic of Madhubala, who immortalised Anarkali on the silver screen with her flawless performance in Mughal-e-Azam, continues to enthrall cinema lovers all over the world. On her 80th birth anniversary we take you on a pictorial journey of her short film career.
Madhubala, born as Mumtaz Jahan Dehlavi on February 14, 1933, was the fifth child among 11 children. Madhubala entered the film industry at the tender age of nine after her father lost his job at a tobacco company.
Madhubala made her Bollywood debut as a child artist with Basant in 1942 and went on to work in several movies as a child artist. It was actress Devika Rani who gave Baby Mumtaz her screen name Madhubala.
Five years after making her debut as a child artist, teenager Madhubala got her first break as a lead actor in Neelkamal opposite Raj Kapoor (1947). Though the film failed at the box office but her performance was appreciated.
She continued working in the industry for next two years but it was Mahal in 1949, which was first offered to superstar Suraiya, that she attained immense popularity. Though she was just 16, her performance was widely acknowledged to have upstaged her seasoned co-star Ashok Kumar. And thus arrived Madhubala, the star.
Mahal's success was followed by Dulari (1949), Beqasoor (1950), Tarana (1951) and Badal (1951). And the success of these films placed her among the most bankable actresses of the 50s alongside Kamini Kaushal, Suraiya and Nargis.
But destiny had something else for the beautiful actress, Madhubala was found to have been born with a "hole in the heart" and during those days there was no facility of a heart surgery in India.
The actress hid her illness for many years but in 1954 during the shoot of S S Vasan's Bahut Din Huwe, she vomited blood on the sets. Eventually her condition worsened but Madhubala continued to work successfully despite her illness in the 50s.
On the personal front, Madhubala was romantically linked with many stars but her love affair with actor and co-star Dilip Kumar is known to everyone as it is a part of court records. She first met Dilip Kumar on the sets of Jwar Bhata (1944) but it was two years later during the shooting of Tarana (1951), that their off-screen relationship began. Her romance with Dilip Kumar lasted for five years but it was bitter end to their releationship with a highly controversial and widely publicised court case. Madhubala's image was badly damaged after the court case.
She met her to be husband and co-actor, playback singer Kishore Kumar during the filming of Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi and Jhumroo but he he was married to Bengali actress Ruma Guha at that time. After his divorce, the two tied the knot in 1960 but their marriage was under great strain for the remainder of Madhubala's life.
Madhubala was at the peak of her career in 1960 with the release of back-to-back blockbusters Mughal-e-Azam and Barsaat Ki Raat.
It was K Asif's Mughal-e-Azam with Dilip Kumar that many consider to be her greatest roles as the doomed Anarkali. From 1951 to 1959 Madhubala invested her best efforts into the film. Post 1956 and her separation from Dilip Kumar, the film's remaining intimate romantic scenes were filmed under much tension and strain between the two actors. Mughal-e-Azam released on 5 August 1960 and became the biggest grossing film of that time a record that went unbroken for 15 years.
She also had some releases in between like Jhumroo (1961), Half Ticket (1962) and Sharabi,/i> (1964), which were average performers at the box-office.
According to reports, her emotionally and physically taxing experience in Mughal-e-Azam is perceived as a major factor in her subsequent decline in health and premature death on 23 February 1969 at the young age of 36.