From Extra to Super Star
Mumtaz first appeared
in Shahid Lateef’s Sone ki Chidiya (1958) as a child artist. Her mother, Naaz, was also an actress in films.
When her family faced financial crisis, Mumtaz agreed to act in films as a junior artist and started appearing in group-scenes,
at a very young age. She appeared in front of camera in V. Shantaram’s Stree and Sehra but she went almost
Mumtaz played the role of sister
of the hero in O. P. Ralhan’s Gehra Daag. Mumtaz then got the lead role in Pathan being made by Ataullah
Khan, Madhubala’s father, but the film remained incomplete.
A large number of girls regularly flock to the tinsel city of Bombay with a dream to become heroines
and most of them end up as extras. There is a union of these extras in Bombay, which provides the junior artists to various
films. The junior artist has to shell out a percentage of her income to this union. Mumtaz also had to spend a few years as
extra only. However, because of her beauty and perseverance, she got an opportunity to act in lead roles against Dara Singh.
And then, she quickly established herself as the heroine of B and C Grade movies. With Jawan Mard, Hercules, Samson, Tarzan
comes to Delhi Mumtaz was all over the film industry!
In her second phase, Mumtaz got
the roles of supporting actress in Kaajal, Khandaan, Sawan ki Ghata, Hamraaz and Mere Sanam the coveted A Grade
family movies. During this phase, she fell in love with Shammi Kapoor, after the demise of his wife Geeta Bali. Everybody
expected that they would marry and because of this, she lost the role in Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker to Padmini.
Brahmchari with Mumtaz and Shammi Kapoor was a super-hit and Mumtaz was established as a heroine of A Grade big films!
Though V. Shantaram’s Boond jo ban gayi Moti was not very successful, but the acting of Mumtaz was appreciated.
Mumtaz recorded another big success in Baldev Raj Chopra’s Aadmi aur Insaan.
With the stupendous success of Do Raaste and Bandhan starring Mumtaz and Rajesh Khanna, Mumtaz
became the number one heroine. Unfortunately, Naaz could not see the success of her able daughter.
At one stage, Mumtaz was the
heroine in the films of all the top producers – Manmohan Desai’s Sachcha Jhootha, Feroz Khan’s Apradh,
Vijay Anand’s Tere mere Sapne, Dev Anand’s Hare Ram Hare Krishna, L. V. Prasad’s Khilona,
J. Omprakash’s Aap ki Kasam, etc.
There was coyness in Mumtaz’s
acting. She showed extreme verve and energy in every scene. She was extremely spontaneous and rhythmic in all her dance steps.
She gave us the intoxicating dances during the phase of supporting roles.
Mumtaz also portrayed the serious emotional roles in Khilona and Tere Mere Sapne with extreme
sensitivity. In fact, Mumtaz was so proficient that she could never be tied down by any image and kept on concentrating on
diversity of roles.
Though she was not counted in
the league of great actresses in the firmament of Hindi Cinema, but she was the top actress as well as was the favourite
of all the viewers. She gave hits with all the actors from Dara Singh in Faulad to Dilip Kumar in Ram aur Shyam.
Though Mumtaz traversed the path of disconsolate domain of an extra to the sky of a top star, but during her odessy she never
lost her spontaneity and vivaciousness with which she groomed all her roles.
When Mumtaz was on the top of
her career, she fell in love with Mayur Madhwani, the richest man of Africa, and she took a daring decision to leave the world
of arc lights and painted faces. Mayur’s family have been the richest in Africa who have palaces in cities all over
the world, along with personal Boeing jets. Madwanis own half the properties in Kampala.
Mumtaz portrayed the role of
the daughter-in-law of a billionaire family successfully and with ease, and gave birth to two daughters. Mumtaz travelled
the Cinderella like dream path of career starting from an extra, earning just Rs. 37 per day, to a queen, rolling in
Rs. 370 Crores… If a film on the life of Mumtaz were made, the critics would term it artificial and impossible,
because no normal girl can possibly have a fate like that.
Troubles crept in her married
life after fifteen years. Though the reasons are not known, but not bearing a son could be one of them. Mumtaz made a folly
- trying to make a comeback at that age. The audience did not accept her in Pahlaj Nihalani’s Aandhiyaan.
• Pramod (Pawan) Agrawal in Navrang,
Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
She was a scene-stealer. Oozing come-hither sensuality while
moving to the beat of Yeh hai reshmi zulfon ka andhera in Mere Sanam or the breezy Aaj kal tere mere pyar
ke charche in Brahmachari, even in the second lead, she left the leading actors and actresses in the films short-winded.
Just like that.
That was Mumtaz. Starting off her career in two bit
roles and then those Dara Singh stunt bone-crunchers, slowly but surely she edged past the leading ladies to find her place
in the celluloid sun.
That she vibed as felicitously with the camera as
she did with her co-stars was evident in the scores of films she did with Feroz Khan, Jeetendra and of course Rajesh Khanna.
With Khanna she went on to star in the hugely successful Sachcha Jhootha, Aap Ki Kasam, Dushman, Roti,
Prem Kahani, Apna Desh and Do Raaste.
She had a pouty charm, a facility for movie-ishtyle
dances… and she scissored the screen when the role demanded histrionics. She was especially riveting in L. V. Prasad’s
Khilona and Aaina, Vijay Anand’s Tere Mere Sapne and J. Om Prakash’s Aap Ki Kasam.
Count among her memorable song and dance numbers Jai
jai Shiv Shankar, Bindiya chamkegi, Duniya mein, Yunhin tum mujhse, Gore rang pe na itna gumaan
kar, Paisa phenko tamasha dekho, Zindagi itefaaq hai. The list is endless…
She won her first Filmfare Best Actress Award for
Khilona (1970). Just when she had reached the peak of her prowess with Aap Ki Kasam in 1974, she bid adieu to
the klieg lights. She lost her heart to millionaire Mayur Madhwani and chose to set up home with him in London–a fitting
end to the rags to riches Cinderella story.
When Filmfare asked her to accept the Lifetime Achievement
Award, she thanked us for considering her worthy of such an honour. She said, "My years as an actress were the best phase
of my life. The film industry is one place where I truly belonged."
When she said that, she stole our hearts again. Just
the way she did once upon a time in the movies.
Shah Rukh Khan whistled in glee when we informed him
that Mumtaz was our Lifetime Achievement Award winner. He volunteered to host that section. Said he, "I’m going to propose
to Mumtaz on stage." As if on cue, Mumtaz called on his mobile. For once, SRK was stumped by the Bindiya chamkegi sizzler.
Her performances, vim and vitality have been enshrined
in our hearts forever. Words cannot adequately express what she mean to us and to Indian cinema. But whenever a golden history
of moviedom is written, the name of Mumtaz will figure prominently in the pantheon of stars.
Rajesh Khanna took the stage next to present the Lifetime
Achievement trophy to mmm… Mumtaz. He sportingly did an impromptu rendering of their Jai jai Shiv Shankar number
from Aap Ki Kasam and said, "The passing years have made Mumtaz more beautiful… It looks as if this lovely lady
is going in reverse gear. Honestly I’m at a loss to describe her beauty and infectious charm."
Mumtaz, who stood there in her bright red crepe-de-chine
sari looked terribly moved with all the love and praise showered upon her by Kaka. Clutching her trophy with one hand, Mumtaz
took the mike to say, "I’m honoured to be receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award. Honestly this is something I hold
very dear to my heart. Especially because the best phase of my life… was my phase in the movies. I miss it even now."
Filmfare Award Function
I was doing a film with Mumtaz for my brother Goldie, called Tere
Mere Sapne; together we made a good looking pair. She was friendly, very amiable, an easy-going, uninhibited co-star. We responded
to each other exceptionally well on the sets. As soon as she heard of my project to be shot in Nepal, she showed her keenness
to participate in it. I gave her a brief narration of the story. ‘It’s a hell of a role for any girl who does
it,’ she said, ‘but I don’t think I want to play your sister.’ She was quite emphatic ‘Why not?’
I asked her. ‘For I don’t feel like one, when you are with me,’ she explained. We both laughed. ‘Would
you agree to do the smaller and less significant part?’ I asked. ‘Only if it is the romantic one,’ she replied.
‘In that case, let me have the privilege of asking you, “Will you be the romantic leading lady opposite me, Mumsy,
in my film Hare Rama Hare Krishna?”‘ I said in great style. She was equally stylish as she answered, ‘Privilege
granted!’ We shook hands.
• Dev Anand in India Today, October
Mumtaz was my absolute favourite. We used to listen to the radio
at night and this is when all my dancing abilities were best showcased. One had to just tell me that the song on radio was
from a Mumtaz film and I would move 20 frames per second, like the way people move in the old Charlie Chaplin films.
I loved the way she moved her hips. I think nobody in this world
can be as beautiful a sight as she used to be. She was sensual, innocent, naughty and very energetic, all at the same time.
She was the first personality I mimicked. I loved to walk like her and dance like her.
Usually actors have very important personalities and performers
as their idols. Mine was Mumtaz. Not to say that she was unimportant or not special. What I mean is that for a guy she was
an unconventional role model. To me she was the single most important cause of my tilt towards anything that had vaguely to
do with the performing arts.
• Shah Rukh Khan
Victory over Battle with Life
Mumtaz, who was a top heroine in her times, has undergone very bad phase in her life.
Once she was disturbed over the wrangle with her husband, and then cancer oppressed her.
Presently, she is very happy
after overcoming both of them.
Mumtaz has been the princess
of box-office during sixties. Her pairing with superstar Rajesh Khanna has been incomparable. She married Mayur Madhvani who
is a billionaire in London, but their relations got strained. In the meantime Mumtaz was diagnosed to be suffering from cancer.
However, she overcame the dreaded disease as well as mutual discord after a long fight.
Chemotherapy to Rescue
Mumtaz had developed breast cancer. Narrating
her suffering, she said, “It started with a node in my breast. I was under the expert supervision of Dr. Soonawala and
Dr. Kurkure. They removed the node. I was under chemotherapy for one year, due to which I always used to in a bad mood.”
Mumtaz was highly disturbed due to cancer. She
told, “Hair from my scalp and eye lashes fell. Though my husband bought a beautiful wig for me, but I never wore it.
I do not believe in any artificial things. As an alternative, I used to wear a scarf. I gained lot of weight due to cancer,
but am trying to reduce after recovery.”
Mumtaz feels, “Cancer sometimes develops
if there is too much of tension and pain in the heart. After a few years of my marriage, my husband developed an affair with
someone. Those times were extremely painful for me. Due to loneliness, I also got attracted to another person. As a result,
the miseries further grew day by day.” Narrating her painful story, Mumtaz says, “I have learnt from my life that
if my own husband is not reliable then why I should expect from others.”
Mumtaz’s illness revived the delicate feelings
between her and Mayur. Mumtaz says, “We love each other even today, but the attitude has changed. I never expect that
my husband should suffer in any way.”
Farhana Faroukh in Dainik
Bhaskar, October 4, 2006
Dekh ker ke aayina khud se
bharosa uthh gaya,
Be-shak khuda se maangta hai 'harash' ab do gaz zameen.
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