Yesterday Google’s doodle was dedicated to India’s legendary actress Meena Kumari. She was known as the Tragedy Queen. On August 1, it was her 85th birth anniversary. As same as her reel life, her real life was also tragic. Her last film Pakeezah was released in 1972. This film took a long 14 years to get completed. She reigned the film industry for 30 years and closed her eyes at an early age of 38. Meena Kumari earned the title not just because of her reel life roles but also because of her real life that was nothing less than a tragedy.
Meena Kumari was born with the name Mahjabeen in a family of poor theatre artists, Ali Bux and Iqbal Begum on 1 August 1933. This was a great disappointment to Ali Bux because he wanted a son. So her father decided to leave her at an orphanage. She brought up as an orphan. But her life had some different plans for her. Meena Kumari never went to school in any meaningful sense, and her education was the result of private tuition, and more significantly the result of individual interest; in every sense she was self-educated.
She got a film offer as a child artist at the age of 4. Although she was in an orphanage her parents stayed connected with her and they were the ones who brought this film offer to her. At the age 4, she became a bread earner in the Bux family.
How the film took 14 years to complete?
On the sets of Tamasha, Ashok Kumar introduced filmmaker Kamal Amrohi to Meena Kumari. They fell in love with each other and married and it was Kamal’s second marriage to her. Kamal Amrohi was also the director of the film Pakeezah. The half of the film was made in black and white but then with the advent of Eastman colour, Kamal shot the film again in colour. In 1964 Meena Kumari divorced Kamal Amrohi and the shooting of the film stopped again. In 1968, it got started again. By that time, Meena Kumari had become an addict of alcohol and had health issues.
She suffered Halala Nikah after her divorce with Kamal which broke her down. She got depressed and made loneliness and alcohol her best friends in the world of selfish people. The Pakeezah film shoot started in 1958 and ended in 1972 after 14 years. When the film was in its last shooting schedule, Meena’s health was deteriorating continuously.
That’s why her body double was hired to complete a dance sequence. Her name was Padma Khanna. The Padma shot many of the film scenes. In 1972 Pakeezah got released and after 3 weeks of it on 31st March Meena Kumari died. Meena Kumari became seriously ill. She was 38 years old. The cause of her death was determined to be liver cirrhosis.