Happy birthday Mumtaz: A shining star who formed a hit combination with Rajesh Khanna
When the history of Hindi cinema is written, the name of yesteryear’s golden star Mumtaz will be right up there for the world to see. Ask anyone from that era about Mumtaz and see their faces light up. Historically speaking, female actors tend to get a raw deal as most author-backed roles are reserved for men. Despite this major shortcoming, if there was one star who could shine, perhaps as brightly as her leading man, it had to be Mumtaz. From action in films with Dara Singh to romances and family dramas with Rajesh Khanna, Mumtaz’s dancing skills, screen presence and oomph ensured that audiences were hooked on to her.
Yet, her journey in Hindi films did not begin with a bang. She was successful from the word go - working in as many as 16 action films with wrestler-turned-actor Dara Singh, mostly successful. She was dubbed stunt heroine of Bollywood. However, in the years to come, she would go on to form a formidable combination with superstar Rajesh Khanna, evolving as an actor and star herself. She would metamorphose into a dancing star with tremendous sex appeal. No wonder to this day, Mumtaz is remembered as a diva.
With Rajesh, she worked in a number of films, of which 8 were superhits. On Mumtaz’s 73rd birthday, a look at her hit films and the evergreen songs from these films.
The two first acted together in 1969’s Do Raaste. A family drama, it laid emphasis on family values, joint family system and paramount importance given to mother in the Indian family system; the film was a big hit. Whether or not people recall the film per se, the songs are still fondly recalled. Remember songs like Bindiya Chamkegi, Yeh Reshmi Zulfien and Chup Gaye Saare Nazaaare?
The same year, they appeared in Bandhan. A family drama with a rural backdrop, the film saw the couple find favour with masses. Mumtaz, the oomph queen, was now metamorphosing into a more mainstream heroine and how.
Sacha Jhutha was largely a Rajesh Khanna film but Mumtaz was by now getting more substantial roles with significant screen time. In this film, she plays a police informer, who is tasked with the responsibility of infiltrating a diamond thief’s inner circle and win his trust. Needless to say like all Mumtaz-Rajesh films, this film too had chartbusters - who can forget hit songs like Yunhi Tum Mujhse Baat Karti Ho and Meri Pyaari Beheniya?
Their next film together was Dushman - yet another family cum crime drama. Playing a happy-go-lucky girl, Mumtaz presented a perfect foil to Rajesh with the latter playing a convicted truck driver, undergoing an unusual reform routine, as ordered by the court. If you have a fondness for old film songs, Paise Phenko Tamasha Dekho and Maine Dekha Tune Dekha, Kya Dekha will certainly ring a bell.
Apna Desh was their next hit film - it was a remake of hit Telugu film, Kathanayakudu. A light-hearted take on corruption, it had Mumtaz and Rajesh con their detractors to bring criminals to justice. Tune in to late night FM studios and you are likely to listen to hit songs such as Duniya Mein Logon Ko, Kajra Lagaake Gajra Lagake and Sun Champa Sun Tara.
Aap Ki Kasam, a relationship drama, saw Mumtaz take on her career’s most challenging role, playing wife to a jealous husband. The film starred Sanjeev Kumar as its third lead. Its songs are wildly popular till today - Jai Jai Shiv Shankar, Zindagi Ke Safar Mein and Karwate Badalte Rahen.
Roti, yet another superhit film from the ’70s, was a remake of an English film, Face of a Fugitive. Today, the film is recalled for its hits songs. Recall Gore Rang Pe Na Itna Gumaan Kar, Naach Meri Bulbul and Yeh Public Hai Yeh Sab Jaanti Hai.
Pre Kahaani would serve as the last film of the hit machine where they play lovers. The film is a classic rich girl-poor boy love story which plays out in the era of British India - Rajesh plays the idealist but jobless young man with Mumtaz playing his lover, hailing from a British-serving Indian elite.
In the mid ’70s, Mumtaz decided to call it quits, at the height of her popularity, and settle down in happy matrimony. She married London-based Indian origin industrialist Mayur Madhvani and moved westwards. She now lives in the British capital and has two daughters, one of whom is married to Feroz Khan’s son, Fardeen.
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