August 1 marks the 84th birth anniversary of the exceptionally intriguing Bollywood actor, Meena Kumari.
Known as a tragedienne -- an actor who specialises in tragic roles, Meena Kumari’s life was filled with sadness both onscreen and off screen. From childhood struggles to fighting diseases and failed relationships, she truly became a tragedy queen.
Born in a Mumbai chawl to a family unable to pay the clinic’s fee, Meena was abandoned at birth. Her real name was Mahajabeen, and her maternal grandmother, who had left home after being widowed and remarried, was the daughter of Rabindranath Tagore’s brother.
Even in death, the 39-year-old lived her tragedy; though she was wealthy like none other of her times, she was couldn’t even afford her hospital bills when she died.
In his biography of Meena, Vinod Mehta wrote that Kamal Amrohi first met the actor when she was six years old and he was looking for a child artiste. Fourteen years later, he married her, ironically, on February 14, Valentine’s Day.
Meena was also a poet who wrote under the pen name Naaz.
The actor took to drinking initially because she was exhausted. Her physician had prescribed a peg of brandy as a sleeping pill. Amrohi would later discover that the bottles of Dettol in his bathroom were actually filled with brandy.
We bring some of the best melodies picturised on her:
Dil Apna Aur Pret Parayi (1960)
Na Jaao Saiyaan
Sahib, Biwi Aur Ghulam (1962)
Ruk Ja Raat
Dil Ek Mandir (1963)
Tora Mann Darpan
Entire Pakeezah album
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