Meena Shorey – Profile


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Meena Shorey

Meena Shorey – Profile

Meena Shorey was the silver screen temptress of the 40’s and the 50’s. Once the hippest girl in the Indian movie industry, she was born in Raiwind in a small rural household. Her father lived a wayward life and used to beat his wife brutally. One of Meena’s sisters married and moved to Bombay, and she and her mother followed. Sohrab Modi at the time was looking for a young girl who could play the lead in Sikandar (1941), Nasim, the most beautiful woman of her time, having walked out. Therefore, Sikander marked her debut, the memorable Sohrab Modi production starring Prithvi Raj as the world conqueror. Meena starred as the sister of Ambhi, the rajah of Taxila.The movie was an all-India hit and there was no looking back for Meena.

Eik Thi Ladki, made by her husband Roop K. Shorey in 1949 in Bombay, dubbed her as the sensational Lara Lappa Girl (after one of the popular songs from that film). Just when the glamour of this achievement was beginning to decline the couple was called to Lahore by J.C. Anand. He had used an Indian soundtrack (Hemant Kumar’s number Na Yeh chand ho ga) in his successful movie Sassi last year and now he wanted to improve the status of his plagiarism by imitating the concept of an entire film: Guru Dutt-Madhubala hit Mr. & Mrs. 55. What came out was Miss 56.

Although the film did good business, it proved to be the swan song of the Shoreys. Meena, the Lara Lappa Girl of the forties was pampered by all, in contrast with the treatment meted out to declining artistes by film-goers in Bombay. For her it was like rediscovering the adulation of her youth. So when the time came to return to India, she decided to stay back, leaving heart-broken Roop to take yet another trip from Lahore empty-handed, within a span of ten years, first losing his means of livelihood and then his sweetheart. That was the separation of the Shoreys. As time was to reveal, it did no good to any of them. Apart from a few side roles in major films like Sarfarosh (1956), Bedari (1957), and Mauseeqar (1962) she was soon reduced to obscure films with titles that sounded like Jagga (1958), Bacha Jhamoura (1959), Behrupiya (1960) and Jamalo (1962) before her ultimate descent into negative old-age role of a ‘Madam’ running a network of bonded prostitution in Khamosh Raho (1964).

The final part of her life story is almost too painful to be real. While Roop K. Shorey died in 1973 in India, from a broken heart over the separation from his sweetheart; Meena – the former wife of the studio owner and once a bright star in the galaxy of Bollywood was reduced to extremely destitute living by the end of her life before her death in 1989. None of her marriages, except the one with Roop K Shorey, brought her any happiness. One of her Pakistani husbands, the B-grade actor Asad Bokhari, used to beat her as if it were part of his husbandly duties. Once she mentioned that she felt like a dried up tree in a grove of green saplings that everyone is out to chop down and burn. She was last seen in the television program Silver Jubilee in 1983 and then mentioned in one news item as having had stood up in a function begging for charity money to marry off her sister’s daughters. Muhammad Ali, who had played a younger (and his first great) role against her in Khamosh Raho was reported to have given her moral support on that occasion. It is said that her burial was arranged with charity money – By Khurram Ali Shafique, Khalid Hassan and Ummer Siddique

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  1. Hi Khurram, Khalid and Ummer,

    Thanks for the blog.

    It is very touching that this beautiful personality met such a tragic end. She surely deserved a better life. Now nothing is left except for her beauty and innocence that can be experienced in her available videos like ‘lara lappa’.

    I request you all to provide the details of this interview of hers in the programme ‘silver jubilee’ of 1983. Are the clips of this interview available? I think, PTV has already released clips of some other interviews at that time such as Zaheer Abbas, Noor Jahan etc. Meena’s interview video may have been released at a later date. Can anyone provide any lead on this?

    Thanks for remembering and reminding such a charming person as Meena.

    • Hello Shrikant,

      Thanks for visiting this blog. One of my friends Inaam Nadeem has complete set of Silver Jubilee program. Once I asked him to upload Meena Shorey last interview on youtube, but he is so busy that he keeps on forgetting it.

      One of the song clips from that program where Meena Shorey was present and Sajjad Ali was singing was available on youtube, but it has disappeared now.

      Meena Shorey was known as “Liz Taylor” of India and Pakistan because she married multiple times… her husbands included Raza Mir, Roop K Shorey, Asad Bokhari, Al Nasir etc

  2. Can you please remind Inaam Nadim once more and many more times to download this interview on you tube?

    Also, no video clips and pictures of ‘Miss 56’ are available anywhere. It was her first movie as a heroine after her migration.

    She has about 110 movies to her credit in India and Pakistan including those before the partition. I could collect the names of only 57 from various blogs and websites. Nobody seems to know about the remaining 53 or so.

    some vcd’s of her movies like ‘Dholak’ and ‘Prithvi Vallabh’ are still available in the market and a few like Mousiqar, Khamosh Raho and Bedari can be seen fully on vidpk. But not others. Even the ‘lara lappa’ song fame Ek thi ladki (1949) is not thee in the market

    It is true that time consumes everybody and everything.

    It is always painful to learn any tragic ends like that of hers. ‘Albela’ fame master Bhagwan died a few years back in mumbai but nobody from the bollywood turned up for his cremation.

    But sometimes some good news also come. Everybody thought that Shamshaad Begum expired long ago. But Indian Prime Minister Manmohan singh, after getting information that she is still alive, made the authorities to trace her and felicitated her with one of the highest awards.

    I read in a blog that Meena Shorey died of cancer in Mayo hospital, Lahore and that Nawaz Sharif had then financially helped for her treatment. Is it so? I also learn that she died in September 87.

    Shukriya buddis,

    • I will remind Inaam again to upload her last interview on youtube.

      There is a possibility that the print of “Miss 56” doesn’t exist anymore. That is the case with many old Indian and Pakistani movies from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. India’s first talkie Alam Ara doesn’t survive anymore. It’s last surviving print was consumed by the fire in Pune archives. Indian movies are more popular in Pakistan, and prints of many old Indian movies which aren’t easily available in India have survived in Pakistan and many released by M.M. Video. But, the Pakistani films themselves are very hard to find even in Pakistan. I tried to locate Miss 56, but no one knows if the print exists or not.

      In the latter part of her career, Meena mostly appeared in cameo roles, maybe that is why it is hard to complete her filmography. By the way, Meena didn’t work in Bedari (1957), the heroine was Raagini.

      Yes, many other Indo-Pak artistes died in poverty including famous dancer Cuckoo, actress Raagini, Asha Posley, and many others..

      I have read about Nawaz Sharif helping Meena financially for treatment on website. I don’t know if it is true or not.

      When you do research on some artiste, you find conflicting information in sources, and when it is hard to confirm, you don’t include it. For example, many sources say Shamshad Begum stopped singing in late 60’s. That is false. Shamshad Begum sang her last 3 songs in 1981 and so on …

    • Dholak I have
      Prithvi vallabh I have but no mention of Meena
      Ek thi Ladki, I have with “lari lappa” song.

      If you want I can give a copy to you.

      But, I have no movies of Master Vithal,and D billimorea. I was able to find E billimorea’s movie Jadoo (1951 with Nalini Jeywant/) in a side role.

      • Thanks for publishing very valuable information about Meena Shorey. All her movies ( available only a few ) are witnessed what caliber she had. Few movies like Actress, Dholak, Ek thi Ladaki, Ek Do Theen are available in YouTube. I’m also fond of her movies if available. I become great fan after watching movie dholak .. thanks

  3. Hello,

    I also saw ‘Bedari’ online and Meena Shorey was nowhere to be seen!

    However, some blogs as well as Dr. Bukhari’s single page directory shows her name in the cast of Bedari. Of course, she is a 4th or 5th name in this film and not a leading role.

    • Hello,

      Meena Shorey was not in Bedari, even if you check the film credits at vidpk, Meena’s name is absent. It was a mistake made by Yasin Gurdeja in his film directories and then people copying from it without double checking.

      In the 50’s, Meena was still playing the leading roles in all her films with the exception of Sarfarosh (1956), where she was the 2nd heroine and according to her Sabiha Khanum changed her role.

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