She was born Mahjabeen Bano and was an actress, singer and poet (as Naaz) who was often called the ‘tragedy queen’, ‘Chinese doll’ or ‘female Guru Dutt’. Her best work came in 1039-1972, when she did films like Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Pakeezah, Mere Apne, Aarti, Baiju Bawra, Parineeta, Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai, Foot Path, Dil Ek Mandir and Kaajal. It was said that even an actor of the stature of Dilip Kumar found it ‘difficult to keep his calm’ when he was with her, and Raaj Kumar, reigning hero of the time, often forgot his lines when she was his co-star.
Accolades, awards and kudos came her way, but something prevented Meena Kumari from finding happiness. She often made those who watched her on the big screen cry, but it is said that the power to do that came from within, from her own grief and unwept tears. Her ability to become Indian women facing hardship and emerging triumphant from the darkness was her forte, her roles as a typical Bharatiya nari winning a special place in the history of Indian cinema.
SoundboxIndia remembers the powerhouse actor called Meena Kumari with 8 songs that show off her supremely expressive face….
- Aa ja ri aa nindiya (Do Bhiga Zameen)
- Chalte chalte (Pakeezah)
- Na jao saiyan chhuda ke baiyan (Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam)
- Ajeeb dastan hai yeh (Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi)
- Dil jo na keh saka (Bheegi Raat)
- Humsafar mere humsafar (Purnima)
- Ruk jaa raat teher ja re chanda (Dil Ek Mandir)
- Baharon ki mehfil Suhani (Benazir)