Monday, December 14, 2015

The Story of Madhubala

Ironically Madhubala was born on Valentine’s Day, which is where Khatija Akbar starts her biography, I want to live: The story of Madhubala. Ironically because the woman who queened it over the hearts of millions of Indians had heart problems all her life and had her heart broken by the person to whom she gave it unconditionally.

As the Hindi film world knows, she started her career as Baby Mumtaz at the age of eight, working to make up for the fact that her father Ataullah Khan had lost his job and could not afford to support his family. When she turned sixteen, she became known as Madhubala and her beauty took the screen by storm. So much so that her understated acting went overlooked. People walked onto the sets and were struck dumb by the coup de foudre of her beauty, from Shammi Kapoor to ordinary visitors. Akbar draws comparisons between Madhubala’s impact on Hindi films and Marilyn Monroe’s impact on Hollywood. Both women she says, were victimized because of their beauty and few people could see beyond it. Both had slightly pronounced noses that they tried to minimize in front of the camera.

Unlike Marilyn, however, Madhubala was always the first person on the sets, was generous to her co-workers and rarely threw any of the starry tantrums that most people expected from divas of her stature. Equally surprisingly, she was terrified of crowds and would go shopping in the safe anonymity of a burkha.

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