6 comments on “Here’s to the Birth or Death Anniversaries of Three Classic Hindi Film Artists Who Certainly Should Not Have Died In Poverty

  1. Richard,
    Riches to rags story of Bollywood always makes one sad, because in most cases it was self-inflicted. Especially in the well-known cases of the ten in the Top Yaps article, excesses in lifestyle and total lack of concern for savings for future were the primary reason.

    In your list I am surprised by Rajkumari, because she had a second lease of life on TV music shows. She sat on the judges’ panel with the likes of Anil Biswas, who would always highlight her ‘Suno bairi balam kuchh bol re ‘ib’ kya hoga’. The channel must have paid her well, and I thought she had no reason to die in penury.

  2. AK, yes, some people suffered from their own excesses. Cuckoo seems to be a prime example. But is it right for them to be left in a condition where they are hardly able to afford pain killers? Isn’t there something wrong with a society that won’t guarantee that their health will be taken care of? Why is that something they have to save for?

    That healthcare question is a big issue in the U.S. here and now. Finally, we have politicians promising to fight for the same healthcare guarantees that they have in Western Europe and Canada. Obviously, there hasn’t been such a guarantee in India (though I heard that some politicians were starting to talk about such guarantees now too), and there sure wasn’t a generation or two ago.

    As I said, while I was working on this post about the rags-to-riches people of Bollywood, I was revising and combining two posts about a singer, Zarina Begum, who could not at all afford to pay for her healthcare until her plight was publicized a few years ago, and then she got some help (though probably far from enough). Maybe with singers and dancers who haven’t been film stars (and have never quite had the film stars’ chance to indulge in excesses :) ), it’s more obvious that there’s something wrong when people can be stranded so badly because they no longer have a place in a fickle cultural market (and an ageist one as well). Maybe these cases make it more clear that society should take care of people in a different way.

    But I said I wouldn’t go into my “preachings”… LOL

    Anyway, Cuckoo is the only one on my small list who really could be said to have suffered from her excesses. I haven’t heard that about Meena Shorey (someone correct me if I’m wrong). Some people say she wouldn’t have ended up as badly if she hadn’t tried her luck in Pakistan. (I have heard this of other actors who moved to Pakistan, though I can’t say now exactly who else would fit the list. I don’t think Rehana ended up that poor – or did she?)

    I have no idea about whether that slight revival in Rajkumari’s career should have saved her from poverty at the end of her life. I do know that different sources said she died poor, and she definitely was in very bad economic shape when Naushad found her and asked her to sing in Pakeezah. Whatever happened later, she should not even have suffered that initial decline; I hope we can all agree on that. :)

  3. If we are talking about Singers as well, perhaps you may like to include MUBARAK BEGUM.

    With warm regards


  4. Partha Chanda, thank you for the suggestion (and sorry for the delay in posting it – I was away without my WordPress password for a couple of days, so could not approve :) ).

    I’ve looked at the story of Mubarak Begum, and, yes, she would fit in the same group (unfortunately).

    However, I did not know much about her sad tale before I wrote this post. In addition, I can’t seem to find any information about her birth date and she died in July – so one of the main reasons for my talking about the three artists above when I did would not have applied in this case.

    There are certainly enough of these stories for a summer sequel, unfortunately. :(

  5. Oh, thank you for that link! I have checked out some of the songs, and there are many more to watch and listen to – a lot of good music there.

    I don’t recall this post from AK’s blog (but there is so much to remember from there – and I have gone there quite a bit and continue to do so, though AK sometimes doesn’t seem to think so :) ).

    Anyway, Mubarak Begum is obviously a singer whose work I need to look into more and consider more in the future.

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