I Want to Live: The Story of Madhubala

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Item Code: NAD416
Author: Khatijha Akbar
Publisher: Hay House
Language: English
Edition: 2021
ISBN: 9789386832023
Pages: 263
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 340 gm
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Book Description
Back of the Book

Khatija Akhar has produced an excellent account of the late actress which should be a part of every cinema lover’s collection. . The book is a must- read.

The most engaging part is the narrative of the unrequited saga of love between Madhubala and Dilip Kumar. The book brings to 4fe the vivacity and pathos of Indian screen’s most serenaded beauty of all time. - —

Enthralling, engrossing, enticing. Written in an easy, fluid style, with captivating black and white photographs biography is a good read. --

The author has clearly battled major odds in compiling this book. It tells us a lot about Madhubala. . We are treated to glimpses of emotional integrity and a rare intelligence in Madhubala ‘s own words. -

Madhubala’s timeless beauty. . Captures the fascinating persona of this yesteryear queen of the silver screen, portraying all the romance and heartache, the joie de vivre and despair that characterized her all-too-short life. -

To write a biography of such private person who also happened to be an object of mass adoration is no mean feat. -

Never has any story moved me as much as this one. . Madhubala lives on in the hearts of millions, in the movies and in this book written on her. —

It indeed is a treatise, and the topping is a collection of songs in the form of a VCD. One only hopes that more such works on our film industry would come out. -

About the Book

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

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 superhies such as Mahal, Tarana, Mr. & 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 away, came as a release for her.

But the legend of Madhubala lives on...

About the Author

KHATIJA AKBAR did her MA in English literature from Osmania University in Hyderabad, where she also taught English. She lives in Hyderabad with her husband and two sons.


‘DISCOVERED’ MADHUBALA IN THE NICEST WAY POSSIBLE — WITH Ram Daryani’s 1951 Dilip Kumar starter Thrana. The image of that laughing, vivacious young Madhubala has stayed with me ever since, with none of her subsequent roles in the many films I saw thereafter able to erase it. An entirely lovable movie Thrana best epitomized her bubbling spirits and natural effervescence. No tragedy had touched her yet. She was wonderfully free of the darkness’s that would later hover over her, casting a whiff of sadness over even the brightest and funniest portrayals. Thrana carried no such burden; it exuded a sense of happiness that was infectious, conveying itself to us in the audience, which inevitably left the viewers smiling.

I first saw Thrana in 1966. The Hindi film scene then was dominated by actresses like Waheeda Rehman, Sharmila Tagore, Sadhana, Saira Banu, Nutan and Asha Parekh. Madhubala’s sun had already set. Her acting days were long over and the age of colour and Kashmir had begun. However, black and white films still had a regular outlet in morning shows. Aah, the delight of those morning shows! To a group of girls in a conservative city like Hyderabad, merely slipping out of the women’s college for an 11 A.M. show to return at 2 P.M. had the added tang of forbidden fruit. For as little as a rupee (50 paise if you sat in the ladies’ section) you could lose yourself in the magic world of Kamal Amrohi’s Mahal (1949), Mehboob Khan’s Andaz (1949) andAmar (1954), Raj Kapoor’s Barsaai-(1949), and Bimal Roy’s Madhumati (1958). K. Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam (1960), of course, always drew in a full house in regular shows.

It was fairly easy then to see Madhubala’s films but what was next to impossible was to get to know something of Madhubala the person. With contemporary film magazines barely mentioning her and those of the fifties having all but vanished there were no ready answers to questions of who, when, where, what and why concerning Madhubala in the sixties. (Her marriage to Kishore Kumar was dismissed as one of those absurd rumours. We simply could not believe it.) When she died in 1969, one learnt from obituaries that she’d had a heart problem, that she left behind a family of parents and five sisters and that she really had married Kishore Kumar. By now, morning shows as we knew them became rarer, taken over more and more by the screening of C-grade films. It was no longer easy to see Madhubala on the screen, and I began to wish someone would write a book on her.

With the advent of the eighties, television and the video cassette recorder (VCR) became the means for Madhubala’s comeback. Her movies began to be seen and enjoyed by a whole new generation and the film media suddenly grew very appreciative of her talent. But there was still no book. In 1992 I decided to write that book myself. It was one way of repaying Madhubala for all the years of enjoyment of watching her films. The decision was spurred by the awareness that with each passing year it was going to be harder to get reliable first-hand illumination on the stars of the Golden Age. In the case of M. idhubala I knew the task was going to be doubly difficult. Folic reclusive lifestyle of the actress meant there was little written about her in the form of interviews or in-depth articles even editing her lifetime. An aura of mystery had surrounded her and no more than a handful of people could claim to really know her. Of those closest to her, some had passed away while others were said to be unapproachable. The prospect was both exciting .and daunting. From start to finish it has involved putting together hits and pieces of information gathered from various sources. I ice sisters are elusive and prefer not to discuss her, though of late, her sister Zahida (Madhur Bhushan) has spoken to Film fare and on the TV programme Total Recall.

The research that I did on film magazines of that period like )1mindia, Film fare, and available copies of Shama, Screen and Movie Times gave me a chronological record of the important events of Madhubala’s life and career; film reviews, her own rare statements, and the contemporary viewpoints of colleagues, journalists and fans. With this background and helped by conversations with those who had known her, it became possible to form a well- defined and living impression of Madhubala.

My meetings with all those whom I interviewed, took place by prior appointments. There was only one person with whom I could get no appointment, nor anyone willing to ‘put in a word’ as they did readily enough for others. When it came to Dilip Kumar, the common refrain was a very definite, ‘He will not speak on Madhubala’. But I dug in my heels and kept trying. It was clear that there could be no book on Madhubala without inputs from Dilip Kumar.

That I did finally meet Dilip Kumar is thanks only to the innately helpful nature of Ahsan Khan, his brother, to whom I am completely indebted. He allowed me to wait at his Pali Hill home for Dilip Kumar who was due ‘maybe’ to visit his office there. We waited, close to two hours, for there was going to be no chance better than this. Fasting (it was Ramzan, 1994), uninvited by Dilip Sahab and intending to broach a subject he was not going to be exactly delighted to discuss, of course, I was apprehensive. It felt like going to a jungle in the hope of a glimpse of the elusive tiger, but when the moment is upon you, you want to be anywhere but in that vicinity.

Dilip Kumar drove in and some tense minutes passed before a message came: ‘Sahab can see you only for 10 minutes.’

I entered his office. He was sitting alone at his table. There was quietness about him but his presence filled the room. Looking at him I found myself struck by the most mesmerizing pair of eyes ever.

I was told that there were certain parameters in everyone’s life and certain barriers, which could not be crossed. Fair enough, I thought and started, ‘I don’t want to go into any controversies...’, when he broke in: ‘From my point of view there were no controversies. There were straight decisions taken on moral and common sense grounds...’. Whew!

Keeping parameters in mind and telling him I only wanted him to speak of Madhubala as his colleague and co-artiste, because without his point of view, my book would be incomplete, we began.

He answered my questions and he spoke a lot more on his own, and the allotted 10 minutes grew to 45 minutes. Whatever he said gave an added perspective to an understanding of Madhubala. Listening to Dilip Kumar talk in those 45 minutes on Madhubala, a bit on Nargis and Meena Kumari, something of Bimal Roy’s Devdas (1955) and Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa (1957) — was an incomparable experience; for he speaks with a degree of seriousness which gives weight to what he says.

He made us feel comfortable; he was courteous and patient, though we were cutting into his time with his staff. When we got up to go, I asked who was his favourite actress? He could have given a vague answer but he considered the question and asked, ‘From the new lot?’

‘No,’ I said, ‘not just the new ones. Anyone from A to Z.’ There was a pause, then he replied: ‘Meena and Madhu.’

I told him I’d always liked Madhubala right from my college days. Dilip Kumar smiled and said: ‘You’re in good company.’

must admit that I set out on this project with some trepidation, for too often these journeys into the lives of famous personalities tend to throw up disillusioning facts and unsavory truths. What would I find behind the smiling face of the Venus of the Indian screen?

No, there were no dark secrets, no skeletons in cupboards, no horror tales of drunkenness or mean habits. Only human failings. Yet, I came away disturbed. It was not easy to come to terms with the reality of Madhubala’s increasing suffering and helplessness. One felt it was all so wrong. The beauty, adoration and fame had come with a very heavy price attached. Fate was not kind to Madhubala. She deserved better.

The picture of Madhubala that is summoned up at the mention of her name is of a very beautiful face — at times pensive, at times mischievous — with its trademark slightly crooked smile. But surrounding it is a vast silence. In trying to penetrate that silence which bothered me so long ago, I have attempted to give to the picture its voice and soul.


Acknowledgements 9
Chapter One
Gracing a Golden Era19
Chapter Two
From Baby Mumtaz to Madhubala41
Chapter Three
Spreading Her Wings59
Chapter Four
The Star Begins to Dazzle!71
Chapter Five
Her Co-Stars103
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
‘I Have Always Lived My Life with My Heart’191
Chapter Eight
Her Last Years215
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