Meena Kumari Won Three Filmfare Nominations in the Same Year
On Meena Kumari’s birth anniversary, we remember the soulful, poetic and timeless beauty, who symbolises love, loneliness and melancholy for generations of cinema lovers.
Meena Kumari is the only actress in Hindi cinema to have been nominated thrice for the Best Actress award in the same year. The 10th Filmfare Awards held in 1963 nominated Meena Kumari in the Best Actress category for her performances in Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, Main Chup Rahoongi and Aarti. She won the award that year for playing Chhoti Bahu in Sahib, Biwi Aur Ghulam. Not only was she an actress par excellence, but also a poetess. She recorded some of her gems under the guidance of iconic music director Khayyam, and in these, she lives on today.
The film that won her fame, also almost killed her. During the filming of Vijay Bhatt’s Baiju Bawra (1952), Meena Kumari almost drowned to death.
For her role in Abhilasha (1968), the film’s producer who was also a builder, built the actress a bungalow in lieu of her payment. During her last days, she sold off the bungalow to co-star Mumtaz, and helped rescue the bankrupt director Sawan Kumar Tak, who was making Gomti Ke Kinare (1972). Meena Kumari shot for the film despite her failing health. It was her last film and it released posthumously after she succumbed to liver cirrhosis on 31st March 1972.
In his biography on Meena Kumari, journalist Vinod Mehta recounts that at one point of time, her income supported as many as 31 family members. But when she passed away, her relatives could barely muster up even Rs. 3,500 to arrange for her body to be released from the hospital.
The Chhoti Bahu of Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam (1963) wasn’t far removed from her real life character after Meena took to alcohol. The tragedy queen kept brandy in Dettol bottles in her bathroom, till her writer-director husband Kamal Amrohi found out.
Meena Kumari penned her pain, heartache and experiences of living a loveless life in these words.
(This story is from The Quint’s archives and was first published on 31 March 2015, to mark Meena Kumari’s death anniversary.)