Entertainment Desk: Meena Kumari of ‘Pakija’ fame is called the ‘Tragedy Queen’ of Bollywood. His real name is Mehzabin Banu. Nani Hemsundari was the daughter of Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore’s brother. One of the two daughters of Hemsundari is Prabhavati Devi. She married Meena’s father Ali Bux and converted to Islam as Iqbal Banu.
Meena married Kamal Amrohi, a famous film director who was 15 years older than her. Early in the production of ‘Pakeeza’, work was halted due to Kamal-Meena’s marital issues. After marriage, Kamal Amrohi took complete control over Meena. For example, before Meena signs a film, she has to show the script to Kamal Amrohi first.
Kamal Amrohi would finally decide whether the character of the film would be suitable for Meena or not. No one was allowed to enter Meena Kumari’s makeup room. Kamal used to say, because of that makeup room, all the houses in the industry are broken. Meena was always in the limelight on and off the shoot. He also had no rights over his own bank balance.
How much money to withdraw from the account also depended on Kamal’s willingness or unwillingness. He decides how much money Meena can withdraw. Even all Meena’s gold ornaments were kept in the bank locker. Kamal did not allow anything to be kept at home.
Meena’s younger sister Malika once said, Meena was very fond of buying a pair of jhumkas. But Kamal did not let Meena buy that jhumka. Unable to buy a jhumka, Meena stayed up all night crying and wetting the pillow. Meena Kumari’s family has more serious allegations against Kamal Amrohi.
However, Kamal’s claim was that Meena’s relatives are the reason for the rift between Meena and her married life. They brainwashed Meena. They completely separated Meena from Kamal. As a result, his treatment was not right.
Meanwhile, 12 years passed. After an age, the work of the unfinished film ‘Pakeeza’ started again. By that time Meena Kumari’s body was seriously ill. He was suffering from liver cirrhosis. The face had lost its grace. The body is broken. Meena was very worried about how she would fulfill her last dream in this situation.
But Kamal Amrohi held her hand and said, ‘No one knows better than me how to present you on screen. You leave the thinking to me. I will present you as Manmohini in Pakija.’ That’s right. Pakija did not think that Meena had fallen in beauty. It did not seem that he was suffering from a complex disease.
In 1972, Meena Kumari died at the age of 38, three weeks after the release of ‘Pakeeza’ i.e. on 31 March 1972. He was in a coma two days before his death. Actress Nargis cried the most at Meena’s exit. After Meena’s death, Nargis angrily wrote, ‘Death greets you.’
Nargis was Meena Kumari’s closest friend. Nargis was the shadow of dependence on Meena’s head during her worst plight. Meena often referred to Nargis as her elder sister. He used to address Nargis as Baaji. Baji meaning bubu in urdu. Meena used to address this in front of everyone at many filmi parties and house parties.
But Meena’s husband Kamal Amrohi was quite displeased with Nargis as her elder sister. Meena adored Nargis-Sunil Dutt’s son actor Sanjay Dutt and his wife Namrata like a mother. Kamal did not see it well either. Even Kamal’s trusted secretary Bakar used to spy on Meena Kumari.
Bakar put his hands on Meena Kumari with the extra indulgence of Kamal Amrohi. This made Meena’s beloved baji Nargis very angry. Nargis had a heated argument with Kamal and Bakar for touching Meena. Meena Kumari often used to say at the shooting spot, ‘How could he (Bakar) put his hands on me?’ This insult made Meena mentally ill.
Kamal quarreled with Meena Kumari because he adored Nargis’s children. A few days after Meena’s death, Nargis gave an interview to an Urdu newspaper. There Nargis said, ‘I knew Kamal Amrohi was an animal. Meena was killed by the animal. Kamal used to brutalize him.’
Nargis said, ‘One day Meena called me and told me about her fever. My husband (Sunil Dutt) told me, ‘You hurry to Meenaji. Meenaji needs your love and closeness now. Sunil himself drove and dropped me at Meena’s house. Kamal’s foster servant Bakar’s face turned black when he saw me. Kamal also quickly expressed his displeasure.
But I did not put Nargis on them. My only thought was how to heal Meena. I went into Meena’s bedroom and what I saw made me want to cry. I saw my younger sister Meena lying on the bed like a numb orphan. His body was burning with fever. He was muttering how many things he was saying.’
‘I lifted her head in my lap and her eyes widened. I saw the scars under his eyes. There were also fingernail scratches on the cheeks. Meena said crying, Baji can take me to you? Can you hide inside your chest? They should not find me. That night I heard Meena’s sobs from the next room. Sometimes she was crying loudly, sometimes softly.’
‘I understood that Kamal Amrohi had been brutalized by Meena. He ate Meena’s beauty like a demon. Meena was very fond of wearing gold ornaments. But Kamal grabbed all her jewelry. Meena had no right to wear any jewelery without his permission.’
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Bollywood superstar Sanjay Dutt’s mother Nargis Dutt also said, ‘Meena’s fondness was for gold jhumkas. I gifted him two pairs of gold jhumkas. Meena cried for a long time with that jhumka in her hand. He was so unfortunate, I had to keep the jhumka I had given him for fear of Kamal.’