Female Co-Stars

Bela Bose (SenGupta) – Actress/Dancer

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Mughal-e-Azam took very long time to complete. I was in the last song ‘ Mohey Panghat Pe’. At that time I was in 9th standard, preparing for the exam, and highly anxious and tensed. Since I was a new girl, Sitara Devi used to pester me a lot with shouting & screaming. Madhu Ji knew my problem & took a humanitarian attitude towards me & told Sitara Ji “She is a kid didi ! Please spare her, let Masterji (Lachchu Maharaj) tell her how to dance.” Sitara Ji got quiet.  Madhu Ji came to me and encouraged me by saying, “Don’t worry you are the best!”.

I don’t know why God was so cruel to her.

While shooting for Baghi Shahzada in Mahabhuleshwar, Kishore da told me ” Madhu (Madhubala) wants to see you, nowadays she is not keeping well… why don’t you see her?”. “Yes Kishore dada, I want to meet her too, as well” I told him. Madhu ji was very found of me & would be very happy to know that I tried my best to take some time off from my busy schedule, but I couldn’t do that & within very short time she passed away. My greatest sorrow ! For Which I may not forgive myself for forever.

Shakeela – Actress

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“I first worked with Mad­hubala in one of my earliest films Fali Saab’s ‘Armaan’, where I had just one song and two scenes. Madhubala was the hero­ine of the film and already a big star. I was very young, around fifteen, and very nervous. The song sequence we were doing required me to come running down some steps and clap in front of the camera. Madhubala was standing next to the camera and each time I came down the steps she giggled and it made me so nervous I forgot to clap. I was so disheartened by her that I wanted to go home and never work in films again. That was my first encounter with Madhubala. After that I didn’t work with her. Later, she mar­ried Kishore.”

“Much later, one day, out of the blue, I got a call from her. She asked me to go and meet her at her house but insisted I go alone. I knew that nobody was allowed inside her house and I had not still forgotten the humiliation of that day. I refus­ed to go and see her. Her family and my family knew the same ‘pir saab’. She sent a message through him asking me to go and see her. He was a respected man, so I agreed to go. I went to her house alone and as I walked in through the gate I saw someone watching me from a window above. A voice asked me ‘Have you come alone?’ It was Ma­dhubala. When I said ‘yes’, she asked me to come up the stairs. As I climbed up, I saw her stand­ing at the head of the staircase. I get goose pimples when I re­member that day. I had seen her on the sets, at the height of glory. A woman so beautiful that everyone looked on her as some kind of goddess. And the wo­man standing there — was dress­ed in white, no make-up, she looked as white as her saree.” Shakila stopped to point to a marble statue in her room. “Whenever I see this statue I think of Madhubala as I saw her that day,” and continued. She took my hand and took me in­side. We sat down. She looked ill and upset. She clutched my hand and said, ‘I know you are Waheeda’s best friend. I want you to tell her to stop chasing my husband. Tell her she should never work with my husband again.’ I couldn’t believe my ears. She had called me over to talk ill of my own friend. I told her that Waheeda was not that sort of a person, and least of all she wasn’t interested in Kishore but she wouldn’t listen. She re­peatedly asked me to tell Wahee­da not to sign any more films with Kishore. I told her I was in no position to do any such thing and left immediately.”

“I decided to tell Waheeda about the incident. She told me that Madhubala had in fact call­ed her up herself and told her the same thing and she didn’t know what to make of it. Later, Madhubala called me up once again. This time I refused to meet her. I went off to Banga­lore and there I heard she had expired. To date I regret not having gone to meet her. God knows what she had wanted. Who would’ve ever thought that the most beautiful famous actress of our times would meet such a sad end . . .”

“There was one thing I admir­ed about Madhubala. Her in­fallible love for her parents. Their happiness came before all else. Until the end, she wanted to see that they lived life in the comfort they were used to. These days one doesn’t see that kind of sentiment.” (According to Shakeela’s interview conducted in 1984).

Bina Rai – Actress

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Bina Rai recalls the role fate played in her marriage. Premnath and she first met on the sets of Aurat… before the film was complete, they had tied the knot.

At the time, Premnath was head over heels in love with Madhubala. But his father refused to accept a Muslim bahu. “The two even went to Haji Malang together,” reveals Bina Rai. But there were too many hurdles in the way. Premnath then met Bina Rai. And a new romance began. “We went for a shooting spell to Mysore… he’d take me on long drives to the Chamundi Hills,” she rewinds. “He had a good voice, he would sing songs of K.L.Saigal and Mukesh.

“Ours was partly a love and partly an arranged marriage. His family was on my side since I was a Hindu.”

Premnath and Bina Rai did visit Madhubala when she was ill. “Yes they were in love. My husband was very upset about her condi¬tion,” she says emotionally. “He couldn’t accept the fact that she was seriously ill. They must have shared something beautiful but things don’t always work out. Love stories don’t always have happy endings…I’m told Madhubala was very disturbed on the day we got married.” (According to Bina Rai’s interview conducted in 1996).

Shyama – Actress

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She was extremely beautiful. I met her for the first time during Tarana. She was good in her work. She was in love with Dilip saab (Kumar). We thought they would get married. But things didn’t work out. Her father Attaullah Khan was very strict. She would head home straight from the studios. She would not even attend premieres. Later, she got involved with Kishore Kumar. I remember him coming to meet her on the set of Barsaat Ki Raat. (According to one of her Filmfare Interviews)

Sushila Rani- Actress/Editor/Singer

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Sushila has memories of laying out dinners for some of the top names of the time, especially friends like Mehboob Khan, Dilip Kumar and V. Shantaram. Baburao not only lived and entertained there, but had an office too, where he wrote, his new wife Sushila sitting beside him to obey his every command.

A newcomer to the home was a young actress who had just about begun making a name for herself in the film industry. Madhubala, eighteen years old, had made over thirty films by then but only one, Mahal, had been a bona fide hit. She was much in demand for her ethereal looks but her life and career were both controlled by her father, Ataullah Khan.

One day, Khan came to meet Baburao with an unusual request. His daughter, he said, had become successful and had a great career ahead of her, but she had one big failing—she did not know English.

She could neither read, nor write nor speak the language and this could prove to be a handicap. Could he arrange for her to learn the language; more specifically, could Sushila Rani teach her?

Baburao immediately said yes and Sushila Rani welcomed the opportunity to take this girl under her wing. “She was an amazing girl, an excellent and bright student,” says Sushila.

Madhubala proved diligent and hardworking and her commitment was obvious in the way she not only studied but also found the time from her busy schedule to accommodate the tutorials. She came every other day, sometimes straight from the studio with her make up still on and exhausted from the day’s punishing work.

Sushila was impressed with her student’s progress. “Within six months she had grasped enough to be able to read and speak the language. She then began to converse in it, first hesitatingly, then almost fluently.” (It was around then that Baburao had taken a doctor to check Ataullah Khan and while at their home, asked that Madhubala’s heart be checked too. That is when her condition—a hole in the heart—was discovered, says Sushila. (Excerpt from the Book “The Patels of FilmIndia”)