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Meena Kumari Unknown Facts



Meena Kumari Unknown Facts

Meena Kumari loved the scent of mogras.  If  you wanted her as a friend  you could try giving her  mogra flowers. You would  have seen her face  light up with pleasure. She  was  not much into  worldly things  and gave  away  all her possessions to her relatives and died in  the servant’s quarter  of a mansion she  gifted to her sister.

Meenaji couldn’t dance to save her life in Pakeezah. But she  loved  to sing and has  recorded an entire album of her own poetry I Write I Recite   composed by Khayyam . In her films she wanted only Lata Mangeshkar to sing  for her.  Lataji recalls  her association with  the legendary actress.“I  remember one day she called and introduced herself. She wanted me to come and sing in her house. I declined saying I don’t sing for private functions.  She never held that incident against me.  She often used  to land up at the recording studio for my songs. One day for a recording for Hemant Kumar I had washed my hair and left it open.  Meena Kumari who was very proud of her hair , looked at my hair and exclaimed, ‘Kitne lambe baal hain aapke!’  I  told her I had never cut my hair in my life. My voice used to match her to perfection. What an artiste and what a fine humanbeing! During the making of Pakeezah (which went on   for a good 20 years) Kamal Amrohi who used to treat me like a daughter invited me  home for song   rehearsals. Meena Kumari  was practicing her steps for my songs in Pakeezah.  Meena turned to me and said, “When  you sing I don’t have to make any effort to act.” I cherish that compliment.  Sadhana  had said something  similar to me once. Meena Kumari often called to chat . She seemed very unhappy with  her life. I met her the Filmfare awards in  1968 . She had became thin and pale.  That year I had given  up the awards, and she said, ‘It’s like the queen abdicating her throne.’ Later I came to know she was extremely ill. When I reached her place with flowers she looked very  ill. She looked at me and said, ‘Allah,aap yahan aaye ,main badi khushkismat hoon.’  We chatted. She asked me for tea, though I sensed she was in no position to offer me anything except her warmth in that condition. She passed away a little later. And then Pakeezah became a legend.  Meena Kumari was so ill she couldn’t dance for the film. But I cherish my songs for her in that film.

Not much of a dancer , Meena  Kumari  was  too frail to  even  stand straight  for  the climactic song and dance   in Pakeezah(Aaj hum  apne duawon  ka asar dekhenge). Kamal Amrohi had to get  a body-double Padma Khanna to dance  for Meena Kumari.

She had injured  the little finger of  her hand  in a car accident  early in her life. In all her films she  kept the left  hand with the  injured finger covered with her saree or  a dupatta.Directors  would tell  her to not  hide  the  finger as it  took  nothing away from her beauty and screen presence. But she remained selfconscious  about her injury till her last.

She  was rumoured to  have  shared  intense  romantic relationships with Gulzar and Dharmendra, though  neither men has ever spoken  about their association.But  she agreed  to do Gulzar’s Mere Apne  for  almost no fee.As  for Dharmendra , proof of Meenaji’s extra-marital relationship lies in her ex-husband’s film Razia Sultan where he cast Dharmendra and then painted him black from head to toe on screen. It is said this was Amrohi’s revenge on the man who snatched his wife’s attention and affection. Meena Kumari supported the young struggling Dharmendra financially and emotionally. A formidable actress and a big box-office draw, she insisted that producers who wanted her for their films sign Dharmendra opposite her. Some of these films that she did only to boost Dharmendra’s career like Chandan Ka Palna, Main Bhi Ladki HoonBaharon Ki Manzil and Purnima were so awful they brought the actress’ reputation down by many pegs.

Meena Kumari’s most  celebrated film is Pakeezah. But her  finest film and performance was  in Guru Dutt’s Pakeezah.  The  legendary actress played the neglected alcoholic wife of a feudal  family.The role was offered  to  famous photographer Jitendra Arya’s  wife Chhaya Arya. Eventually she  was  rejected. Meena  Kumari had missed the opportunity  to play a Bengali woman in Devdas. She pined  to play a Bengali housewife and had her heart set  on  the role of Choti Malkin in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. But Meenaji’s husband Kamal Amrohi asked for a price for his wife that  Guru Dutt couldn’t afford. Meenaji personally intervened  to  sort  out the  matter.

Contrary to  belief, Meena Kumari’s farewell film was  not Pakeezah but Sawan Kumar Tak’s  Gomti Ke Kinare where again she played a  tawaif.  She shot the film through  her  failing health as a  favour to the debutant  director.Ironically in this film Meenaji sang Majrooh Sultanpuri’s  immortal lyrics which reflected on  her  exploitation by those whom  she trusted and loved : Aaj toh meri hansi  udai jaise bhi  chaha pukara  kal jo mujhe inn galiyon mein laya wohbhi ttha haath tumhara….RIP, Meena ji.

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