11 comments on “The Tragedy Queen and the “Nautch Queen of New Jersey” (thoughts after reading two very informative articles)

  1. I don’t have the time to read the articles you’ve linked to, Richard, but thank you for your blog post, which I loved! I am a bit torn about what I consider Meena Kumari’s best performance – I used to dither between Pakeezah and Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam (with my preference skewed in favour of the latter), but ever since I’ve watched Daera, I’ve begun to admire her performance there, too. Pakeezah is eventually a happier movie than either of the other two, so easier to watch, but as for Meena Kumari herself… I don’t know.

    Oh, and in a very different type of role: I love her in Majhli Didi. A fabulous character, and brilliantly portrayed.

    Padma Khanna I always associate with Husn ke laakhon rang. She got terribly shortchanged in Hindi cinema: from the few brief roles of hers (for instance in Biwi aur Makaan) it’s easy to see that there was more to her than just a good dancer, but few film makers seem to have realized that.

    Thank you for this. I enjoyed it a lot!

  2. Richard,
    Very nice article, yours as well as the link you have given too. I am very happy to know that she is living a life of dignity. Bollywood is very harsh to former stars, what to speak of ‘item girls’. Now people have become smarter in investing for the future, but in earlier times, Rags-to-riches story was quite common.

  3. Hi Richard,

    Thank you for writing such a fascinating article and unique facts about Pakeezah and Meena Kumari’s life.

    Well Wishes


  4. Mahdu, I’m delighted that you loved this post. Re. Meena Kumari’s best performance, I am not certain about that myself. When I said “her best film,” I meant more in terms of the best film in which she starred – but also, of course, considering that she helped make it the best. I guess it’s a fuzzy difference. :)

    I haven’t watched Daera. I should sometime. (It’s been on Tom’s channel for quite a while, with subtitles and everything.) Actually, I haven’t seen Majhli Didi, either. I thought that Meena Kumari gave a very fine performance in Parineeta. I have to watch that again sometime! I thought she was good in just about everything, even bad films. I can think of ten more just off the top of my head… But I’m pressed for time myself right now, and I think we all know them. :)

    Re.”Husn Ke Laakhon Rang,” a clip of that also appears in the “Nautch Queen of New Jersey” article. I guess it’s what people remember Padma for most. I have seen a few people mention that Padma Khanna got shortchanged – and that’s why t was interesting in the interview when she said,”Being typecast didn’t bother me at all.”

    I haven’t seen Biwi Aur Makaan. I see that this was made as early as 1966, when she was only 16 or 17. Interesting… I’ll add it to my list (hopefully to be found with subtitles : ) ).

  5. Thank you to AK; I am glad you liked this. “A life of dignity” is a good term and, yes, it’s nice to see that happened. But when when you mentioned “rags to riches,” didn’t you mean “riches to rags”? “Rags to riches” is a fairy tale that we hear a lot; “riches to rags” would be the more accurate description of something that probably happens much more often.

  6. Daera is a tough film to really like. It’s very different from the usual Hindi film, but quite extraordinary too. As for Majhli Didi – I do hope you can find that with subs! It’s a wonderful little film, vintage Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Biwi aur Makaan is a comedy (also Hrishikesh Mukherjee) and pretty funny. One of the few films in which I’ve actually liked Mehmood – Padma Khanna played his wife in that.

  7. Thank you for the further descriptions! Now I have even more incentive to sit down with Daera some time in the near future and look around for the other two films. :)

  8. OK, thanks. I knew that you’d reviewed Daera. I started reading that post but it was during a busy time for me. I’ll go back and finish that review soon. :)

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