She was his favourite heroine, or one can say she still is. He wrote her biography a few months after she passed away. She represented what no one else could on screen according to him and rightly so. She charmed him and he never met her. Maybe that is the beauty of interactions you do not have – you have them and those are the ones that last forever. It did for Vinod Mehta, when he started writing his book on the legendary Meena Kumari in 1972.
The book has been reprinted by Harper Collins and it is a boon to all lovers of biographies and but of course for fans of the actress. Meena Kumari’s life was always seen upon as one of tragedy. From her unsuccessful marriage to the various lovers who used her, she was always the centre of attention for the longest time. “Meena Kumari” talks of the actress as the author’s “heroine”. He speaks fondly of her. He speaks of her with great sadness. He speaks of her life, her childhood, her voluminous body of work and the way she lived and died. At the same time, he tries to get away from the “tragedy queen” bracket cut out for her.
The writing is vivid and paints pictures in the reader’s head. It is empathic and yet controlling, without becoming too sentimental. Vinod Mehta writes with a connection which is also quite neutral. He has documented every single aspect and has also to a large extent not judged people in her life, which would have been quite difficult to do. Read the biography to know more about one of the reigning stars of the Indian Film Industry and you will not be disappointed
Vinod Mehta's eye-opening biography covers the story of Meena Kumari, one of Bollywood's most prominent heroines.
Summary of the Book
Mahjabeen Bano was born to a poor Muslim family, one that almost abandoned her in an orphanage. Despite her wishes, her father dragged her into a life of film, where she entered as a 7 year old. She quickly gained fame as Meena Kumari, and acted in several mythological movies. She moved on to a role as a heroine, and won the first Filmfare Award for her performance in Baiju Bawra. Her life, writes Vinod Mehta, was full of as much drama as her movies. Her love-lit marriage with Kamal Amrohi ended in disaster, and by the time it was rekindled, she had already descended into alcoholism. At the time of her death in 1972, of of liver cirrhosis, she was left penniless. This is her story.
About Vinod Mehta
Vinod Mehta is the editor-in-chief of Outlook India. Some of his other works are: Bombay: A Private View, The Sanjay Story, Mr Editor, how close are you to the PM? and Lucknow Boy: A Memoir.
He graduated from Lucknow University and launched a series of popular publications including the Sunday Observer, The Independent and The Pioneer.