Meena Kumari | Pearl of Indian Cinema

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Her life : Cinderella of Bollywood World

  • Year 1933 – Born in Mumbai.
  • Year 1939 – Debut with the film Farzand-e-Watan.
  • Year 1946 – Acted as a Heroine in Movie Bachchon Ka Khel movie.
  • Year 1952 – Made her stepping stone by the movie Baiju Bawra.
  • Year 1953 – Won the Filmfare Award for best actress for the movie Parineetha.
  • Year 1972 – Left the mortal world.

“Zindagi ki raahon mein thokarein wohi khate hai … joh oonche hokar chalte hai…”

Meena Kumari was a gifted Indian actress, poet and singer who had turned the world with her extreme talents and at most calibre. Often remembered as the Cinderella of Indian Cinema, She had an eventful career of 33 years in Indian Film Industry and she had done her part in 92 films including Baiju Bawra, Parineetha, Dil ek Mandir, Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam, and many more. The veteran actress Madhubala has appreciated her in one of her states- “She has the most unique voice. No other heroine has it.”


Meena was born on 1st August 1933 as Mahjabeen Bano to Mr. Ali Bux and Mrs. Iqbal Begum. Her father who was too broke to pay for the delivery and also wanted a male child almost made a decision to dispose her off to an orphanage. He changed his mind a few hours later and fetched her home. She had two sisters Khursheed Jr. and Mahliqa. As a child she was not at all interested in making her career into films, and was very much keen on to continue in her studies only. In spite of this, her parents started peddling four-year-old Mahjabeen to film studios for work opportunities. Director Vijay Bhatt cast her in the film Leatherface

Personal Life

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During an eventful film career Meena met with a terrible accident wounding her left pinkie. In her hospital days, she began to move closer to Kamal Amrohi the film director who gave her a hard hitting lead role in the movie Anarkali (1951). They began writing letters to each other and soon they got married on 14 February 1952 as a ‘secret’ marriage.

Career Journey

Even though her mother was Rabindranath Tagore’s sibling’s granddaughter she found it hard to get a prominent part in the movies. At the age of four,  Meena Kumari stepped into acting career by doing films like “leatherface”, “Adhuri” , “Kahani” and other films.  Meena star cast aid under the name Meena Kumari in Ramnik Production’s “Bachchon Khel”.  She did other films to her credit like “Duniya Ek Serai”, “Ghatotkach”, “Hanuman Patal Vijay”, “Sanam” and other films which acclaimed her roles.

Her film Azaad which was directed by Sriramula and was the top grossing of the Year. Then in the nest she acted in the most memorable film of a career, “Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam Kumari” which won four Filmfare Awards including Filmfare best actress award for herself and then she won the Filmfare best actress award in 1966 for the film “Kajal”. In that she played the role of Madhavi which was highly praised by the critics.

She was immensely close to actor Dharmendra. She was a friend and mentor to him. She made him understand his roles and made him practice his roles again and again until it was close to perfection. She was really patient with him. At a party, she recited a romantic poem from Ghalib which made her affection towards Dharmendra transparent.

Awards and Recognition

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Meena Kumari won the Filmfare best actress award for the film “Baiju Bawra”, “Parineeta”, “Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam” and “Kajal”. At the Filmfare Awards 1963, she was the only one nominated in the category Best Actress in a Leading Role. She has also want Bengal film journalists Association’s awards in the film “Sharda”, “Aarti”, “Dil Ek Mandir” and also a special award for the film “Pakeezah”.

Later Life

“Pakeezah” was the last film of a career as she suffered serious illness due to loneliness and alcoholism. A few weeks later Meena was hospitalized in St. Elizabeth’s Nursing Home. Her health kept deteriorating even after resting in hospital. She faced severe liver problems and met with death on March 31, 1972 at the age of 38 only. She was buried at Rehamatabad Cemetery.

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