Flashback Fridays: How ego destroyed Dilip Kumar-Madhubala love story

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She was born on February 14 on Valentine’s Day, known to be a celebration of heart and love but ironic as it may sound, a failed heart cut short superstar Madhubala aka Mumtaz Jahan Nehlavi’s life. Her premature death has likened Madhubala to iconic Hollywood greats like Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Carol Lombard and even our very own Meena Kumari - glorious women of the silver screen, who died before the world was ready.

Madhubala’s film journey

Coming from a conservative Muslim family of Pathans, her father, Ataullah Khan wasn’t keen that she studied. She was the only earning member of the family as her father, who worked with the Imperial Tobacco Company in Peshawar with the British, had lost his job. He brought the whole family to Mumbai. Madhubala was talented, she could sing and dance and she did her first film Basant as a child actor. Right through her childhood, Madhubala remained busy shooting. Once when he was asked why he’d made her join films, her father had said, ‘I had 12 children. We would’ve starved to death. I’ve lost my sons who could’ve been my support’. She would begin shooting at 9 am and at 6 pm, the car would be sent to the studio and she’d be brought home. The young beauty shot to fame in 1949 at the age of 16 in Kamal Amrohi’s Mahal with Bollywood veteran Ashok Kumar. One success followed another, establishing Madhubala as an A-grade star with a rare versatility but what hid beneath was her growing fatigue, weakness and a fatal disease. When Madhubala was born the baby was “blue”–a serious sign of cyanosis and poor oxygen perfusion, a disorder colloquially referred to as a “hole in the heart". The medical community’s understanding of  the condition was in its infancy and at the time of Madhubala's birth, there was no treatment. But at that time, no one realised that she was sick, not even her father. Madhubala was a healthy and bubbly child. 

When Hollywood beckoned Madhubala

Not many know that Madhubala’s beauty and allure was known worldwide. She had been featured in many American magazines including LIFE.. Interestingly, legendary director Frank Capra was eager to bring the mysterious Indian beauty to Hollywood and launch an international career, but apparently the actress' conservative father didn't let it happen. 

Madhubala loved street food

Not many know that Madhubala loved wearing plain white sarees and loved tucking mogras in her hair, she was also fond of gold and kundan jewellery. With her little knowledge of Urdu, she would do some sher shayri. She loved some of street foods like ragda pattice,  pani puri...It’s heard that she’d wear a burqa to hide her identity drive all the family members to Chowpatty in her imported car and treat them to various delicacies. She even went to watch movies in a burqa. She had an aura around her as she was never seen in public and not much was known about her unlike other actors. She wasn’t allowed to attend any function, any premiere. She had no friends. But she never resisted, she was fine with it. 

How Dilip Kumar-Madhubala relationship came to a bitter end

Madhubala’s first love was Premnath but the relationship lasted for just six months. Rumours have it that it broke on grounds of religion. He asked her to convert and she refused. Next she got involved with Dilip Kumar who she met on the sets of Tarana. They later worked in Sangdil, Amar and Mughal-e-Azam. It was a nine year long affair. They even got engaged. But, it is rumoured that due to Dilip Kumar's differences with Madhubala’s father they couldn’t establish their relationship. It involved a court case drama in the presence of the press and the public. Dilip and Madhubala both signed for producer B. R. Chopras ambitious film Naya Daur which initially required 40-day location shooting in Gwalior. Both Dilip Kumar and Madhubala were paid initial signing amount. But apparently, her father refused to send Madhubala on location shooting as he felt it would be unsafe for his daughter, and insisted upon shooting in the studios which was not acceptable to the film's director, B. R. Chopra. Eventually, Madhubala was dropped and was replaced by Vyjayantimala. Attaullah Khan sued B. R. Chopra for not honoring the contract. And B. R. Chopra counter sued. The whole drama meant disaster for the couple and the relationship came to a bitter end. Madhubala’s family members till date wonder why Dilip Kumar did not side with them and agree to the change in location. It's said that Dilip Kumar was willing to marry Madhubala provided she left her father while she wanted him to apologise to her father. Essentially it was ego that destroyed their love.

Dilip Kumar’s version on the tragic end of the love story

In his autobiography which released some time last year, Dilip Kumar has given his side of the story on why his and Madhubala’s love story had a sad ending. In his own words: “Half way through the production of Mughal-e-Azam, we were not even talking to each other. The classic scene with the feather coming between our lips, which set a million imaginations on fire, was shot when we had completely stopped even greeting each other. It should, in all fairness, go down in the annals of film history as a tribute to the artistry of two professionally committed actors who kept aside personal differences and fulfilled the director's vision of a sensitive, arresting and sensuous screen moment to perfection."

"Contrary to popular notions, her father, Ataullah Khan, was not opposed to her marrying me. He had his own production company and he was only too glad to have two stars under the same roof. Had I not seen the whole business from my own point of view, it would have been just what he wanted, that is, Dilip Kumar and Madhubala holding hands and singing duets in his productions till the end of our careers. When I learned about his plans from Madhu, I explained to both of them that I had my own way of functioning and selecting projects and I would not show any laxity even if it were my own production house. It must have tilted the apple cart for him and he successfully convinced Madhu that I was being rude and presumptuous. I told her in all sincerity and honesty that I did not mean any offence and it was in her interest and mine as artistes to keep our professional options away from any personal considerations."

"She was naturally inclined to agree with her father and she persisted in trying to convince me that it would all be sorted out once we married. My instincts, however, predicted a situation in which I would be trapped and all the hard work and dedication I had invested in my career would be blown away by a hapless surrender to someone else's dictates and strategies. I had many upfront discussions with her father and she, not surprisingly, remained neutral and unmoved by my dilemma. The scenario was not very pleasant and it was heading inevitably to a dead end. In the circumstances, therefore, it seemed best that we did not decide to marry or even give each other a chance to rethink because my resolve by then had become strongly against a union that would not be good for either of us.” 

The last journey 

On the rebound Madhubala got involved with Kishore Kumar who was going through a divorce with Ruma Devi Guha Thakurta (actor-singer). Their love affair went on for three years through Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi and Half Ticket. They got married in 1960, when she was 27. After marriage they flew to London where the doctor told her she had only two years to live. But after that Kishore left her at her house saying, ‘I can’t look after her. I’m on outdoors often’. He’d visit her once in two months though. They remained married for nine years. The hole in her heart was detected when she was shooting with Raj Kapoor for SS Vasan’s Chalak in Chennai, in 1957. She had vomited blood and fainted. Madhubala was 24 then. She was advised bed rest for three months but she continued working as her films would suffer. But her health deteriorated while shooting for the historical epic Mughal-e-Azam in which she was seen tied with chains and had to walk around with them. That was physically stressful for her. By the end of the day her hands would turn blue. She’d even refuse food saying that she had to look anguished and weary for the jail scenes. And as she neared her 30th birthday, the grueling filming ofMughal-e Azam took a toll on the young actress’ health and that is speculated to have hurried her demise. While the historical released some time in 1960, Madhubala passed away on February 23, 1969 shortly after her 36th birthday.

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I love Madhubala, she had a mesmerising charm in her sparkling beauty. May be somewhere she must have taken rebirth in this world today. God bless her soul.

RIP Madhubala-ji. Fathers usually adore their little girls, but not here or with Ekta Behl (whose father would beat her back and blue-as quoted by Juhi) or as the nightmare named dad in case of Mandakini.
Ekta Behl now lives like a queen and is treated like one by Monish Behl.

The most beautiful woman I have ever seen from India is madhubala.there were many actress or models but now one came close o madhubala

Madhubala was born on a Tuesday ! Tuesday Child is full of Grace & Charm. It showed in her Personality . I was born on a Tuesday too. Ranbir Kapoor was also born on a Tuesday .....;). Believe me, It's a whole lotta Grace & Charm :)

I checked out some of her pictures on google ....she was sooo beautiful and down to earth ...I love her Beautiful Smile

I never found her to be beautiful, but she has great screen presence. So her newly wed husband, Kishore Kumar, left his wife as soon as she was diagnosed with a fatal illness, and only visited her once in 2 months! wow, people don't talk about that ... what a man.

She's not even beautiful katrina kareena kajol more beautiful then this oldie

ok there is a photo of madhubala with her hair open and there is a similar photo of kate winslet from titanic kate looks so much like madhubala.

You are So Right ! I forgot Kate Winslet does have a resemblance to Madhubala. I find Kate one of the most beautiful actress in Hollywood, she was so beautiful in Titanic, especially in some of the deleted scenes where you get to see her beauty even more. Madhubala was the most beautiful in her days as well.

so sad

She is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. She had the complete package of an oxygenating beauty and aura, amazing acting capabilities and commitment towards it, a great dancer and a great personality. Madhuri was the only one who could somewhat reach to her standards later on. Dilip Kumar truly loved her, but sometimes ego is enough to destroy everything.

I agree Madhubala and Madhuri are two of the best faces I have ever come across. Not a single facial feature in them that one can fault. Just too gorgeous for the lack of a better word!

Madhubala was undeniably beautiful and oozed loads of charm. But personally, I think Madhuri Dixit has a more beautiful and proportionate face (younger Madhuri of the Tezaab and Ram Lakhan days).
Both actresses are on par wrt acting skills...Madhuri just got a lot of lousy movies (unlike the older times, when movies had more content).
Dancing ability..are you kidding me? Madhuri towers over Madhubala anyday. In her own times Madhubala was considered somewhat of a wooden dancer, and Vyjantimala, Padmini and Waheeda Rehman were considered to be among the best ones.
Madhubala however wins over Madhuri in terms of the charm factor and mystery aura.

Lol! Really? Madhuri is not as beautiful as Madhubala. Madhuri is a better dancer, that's for sure but Vyjiantimala and Waheeda Rehman were both better dancers than Madhuri. Madhuri isn't someone I would look at twice if she wasn't famous but Madhubala has that beauty that you could just stare at her face for hours, Madhuri's biggest charm was her smile and her dancing ability. Nobody even noticed Madhuri in her first two movies (Abhod and another one?) until she was seen dancing in Tezaab. Madhubala type of beauty is rare, there's no light eyes or anything striking it's just her soft features with flawless skin that are very angelic that you want to keep looking at a her. It's like she's so delicate you wouldn't want to touch her in fear you may leave a mark.

lol.. ok. I am sure Madhuri herself takes it as a compliment if anyone compares her to Madhubala. :)

madhuri is a snob.

This is heart breaking, I never knew about Kishore Kumar deserting her like that when she was going through such a difficult phase in her life, that's disgusting behavior. RIP Madhubala, she truly is the definition of timeless beauty.

She was so beautiful and so natural as an actress.

Awww this is soo sad! They need to make a movie on her life.

Why does PV make a post about these two every year ?

Why not?

This made me laugh

Your comment made me laugh. Have some respect then get a life.

My father who has since passed would always say that madhubala was the most beautiful woman in indian cinema. Even though we have never lived in india ( we are of indian descent )all the movies would be shown in our country and he could understand and speak the language. This post reminded me of him.

i just wish everyone gets to live a happy and full life..

Madhubala's entire family depended on her for a living , marriage would have been the kiss of death for her career , especially in those days . It's not very clear as to why Ataullah Khan did not want her to do an outdoor shoot unless it was to prevent his daughter from meeting her man . How is it possible for an actress to never shoot outdoors ? The moment he realised he could never control Dilip Kumar , he must have decided to stop the relationship from ending in marriage. I feel terrible for Madubala who was caught between both men. It's said that even today Dilip Kumar has a huge photo of Madhubala in his house & Saira understood .
Premnath went on to marry Bina Rai who was considered a pale imitation on Madhubala .

Apparently Dilipsaab does indeed have a humongous photo of Madhubala in his lobby/reception room. A very intimidating one. I wonder how Saira copes. The story goes that Dilip was away when Madhubala finally passed on and he returned to her grave and wept like a baby. Anyone watching Tarana, the movie where they fell in love, would realise that their chemistry was so special and that they adored each other. But that's life. Sometimes, true love really does not win out in the end. :(

so sad... this made me tear up... she will forever remain a beautiful gem..

My whole family adores Madhubala. I remember we had a similar huge black and white innocent and beautiful poster of Madhubala in our house. Very sad that the father was behind her money and made her work in spite of her health issues. And very inhuman of Kishore Kumar to have left her like that when he learnt of her illness. She will remain the most naturally beautiful actress of Indian cinema.

Madhubala is one of my favorite actresses from the older days. Her story is very heartbreaking as well. She was such a natural beauty and fun to watch even though she had bad health condition

This made me cry.

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