Madhubala: the name that reminds one of timeless beauty, talent, and a gem of the Indian film industry. Born, as Mumtaz Jehan Begum Dehlavi, Madhubala’s journey in films might have been a short one, but it was worthy enough to be remembered even after decades of her untimely and tragic demise. Her illuminating screen presence and terrific acting ability earned her praise and acclaim from fans and critics alike. On Madhubala‘s 89th birth anniversary today, on the 14th of February, it is only apt that we remember the legend and one of her most iconic performances opposite Dilip Kumar, Mughal-e-Azam.
Mughal-e-Azam continues to be a classic in Indian films. There are several stories and conversations around the grandiosity of the 1960 film directed by K Asif, but Dilip Kumar and Madhubala’s undeniable chemistry takes centre stage without fail. There are few Hindi cinema enthusiasts who might not have heard or read about Dilip Kumar and Madhubala’s love story. For the unversed, the two actors were not only a hit pair on-screen, but they were also madly in love with each other in real life.
However, they parted ways after the Naya Daur court case wherein Dilip Kumar sided with director BR Chopra instead of Madhubala and her father, which hurt the actress immensely. The actress was latter replaced by Vyjayanthimala opposite Dilip Kumar in the film.
Three years later, Dilip Kumar and Madhubala delivered one of the most romantic acts on the silver screen in Mughal-e-Azam, where they essayed the roles of star-crossed lovers Prince Saleem and Anarkali respectively. The film took 16 years to be completed and during the later years, Dilip Kumar and Madhubala were not even on talking terms. Nonetheless, they magically brought alive the romance of their characters on the big screen. Dilip Kumar even wrote about the passionate feather scene in Mughal-E-Azam which has been etched into India’s collective memory for decades.
In his autobiography, The Substance and the Shadow, Dilip Kumar stated, “Halfway through the production of Mughal-e-Azam we were not even talking to each other. The classic scene with the feather coming between our lips, which set a million imaginations on fire, was shot when we had completely stopped even greeting each other.”
Madhubala’s sister Madhur Brij Bhushan too opined on this scene in an interview with ETimes. When asked how Dilip Kumar and Madhubala pulled off the feather scene with such ‘passion and conviction’, she replied, “Because they loved each other too much. If love is in the heart, it pours out from the eyes. Where does love start? It starts in the eyes only na, when A sets his/her eyes on B for the first time?”.
Madhubala will be forever missed. However, she will live on forever through our memories and her films as well.