The Hindi Film industry took roots in Bombay during the time the Raj was at its apex. But the psyche of the Indians suited setting up the film industry and it soon grew by leaps and bounds. Bombay soon became the hub of the Asian film industry. The growth was so rapid that it began to rival Hollywood in terms of the number of films produced.
After 1947, when India became free ,the industry continued its upward trend and a star system on the pattern of Hollywood emerged. One of these stars was Madhubala (1933-69) who was the most beautiful star of the early fifties and sixties.
Madhubala and Bombay Films
Madhubala was only a screen name, as her real name was Mumtaz Begum Jehan Dehlavi. After her birth in Delhi she had come to Bombay in 1944 to earn a livelihood in films.During the partition riots she opted to remain in India and continued living in Mumbai till her death in 1969. Madhubala during the fifties formed a triumvirate with Nargis and Meena kumar (All Muslims) and together, these three women became the most iconic female film stars of the day. But Madhubala stands out as the heroine, who was more westernized in her dress and attire. She most of the time played romantic roles where in she portrayed a modern woman.
Madhubala has often been compared to the Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe. Definitely she was an exceptionally beautiful star.
The Era of Madhubala
Madhubala acted in over 50 films while in Mumbai. In fact she conjured a host of hits that established her as a top star. All the top stars of the period like Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar, Bharat Bhushan, Raj Kapoor and Ashok Kumar costarred with her. Her hits include Mr. and Mrs. 55 (1955), Phagun (1958) Howrah Bridge (1958) ‘Mughal e Azam’ (1960), Barsaat ki raat (1960), Sharabi (1964) and a host of other films.The popularity and the hold of Madhubala on the psyche of the Indian film goers can be gauged from the fact that in 1990, decades after her death, in a poll conducted by Movie magazine, she was voted the most popular vintage Hindi actress of all time.. She amassed 58% of the votes polled and out-ranked her contemporaries like Menna Kumari,Nutan and Nargis.
Love and Demise
Madhubala had a tragic love affair with the then reigning idol Dilip Kumar, but it was doomed as Madhubala's father was opposed to it. He was perhaps her only love.Madhubala suffered from a medical condition which is popularly called a 'hole in the heart’ and she died in 1969 at the age of 36. But despite the passage of time the image of Madhubala shines brighter than ever.