The riveting saga of ‘the Venus of the Indian screen’ studded with rare and fascinating nuggets of information that throw new light not only on the life and times of Madhubala but also on the Golden Era of Hindi cinema and the dramatis personae involved
The very mention of Madhubala (born on St. Valentine’s Day, 14 February 1933) conjures up a vivid image of a love goddess possessing bewitching beauty, dazzling radiance, subtle sensuality, and, above all, a tantalizing screen presence. Her histrionic performances held (and continue to hold) audiences/viewers entranced.
Her talent was phenomenal and she could literally glide through a movie, whatever be the role. She could convey an impressive array of emotions with her eloquent eyes and nuanced expressions without resorting to melodramatic facial contortions. Tragedy, romance, comedy, drama and what have you – she could take everything in her stride, exquisitely and flawlessly, as convincingly proved by superhits such as Mahal, Tarana, Mr. and Mrs. ’55, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi and the magnum opus, Mughal-e-Azam.
The author, on the basis of extensive research and interviews with many of those who interacted with Madhubala (who mostly remained elusive), presents a spectacular panorama not only of the ‘reel-life’ actress but also of the ‘real-life’ human being, who was extremely caring and compassionate, but lived in the shadow of her dominating father. This volume recounts her life story right from her first film (Basant, 1942), as a child star, up to the magnificent Mughal-e-Azam (1960) and beyond. Enthralling scenes from some of her film masterpieces are described in graphic detail. The drama involved in her love affair with Dilip Kumar, which culminated in intense acrimony, has been poignantly and sensitively portrayed.
The last few years of her life were spent in virtual solitude, despite her being married to Kishore Kumar and death (on 23 February 1969), in a way, came as a release for her.
But the legend of Madhubala lives on . . .