Minoo Mumtaz has been adored on this blog from very early on. In other words, she’s been one of my favorites ever since I first became obsessed with classic Indian films. She is featured in numerous songs that I’ve shown here, though many were in posts focused on someone or something else. But there is one old post in this blog that is sufficiently devoted just to Minoo Mumtaz, and that is the one from back in 2009 where I wrote about Tom Daniel’s DVD compilation, describing it as A Whole (Beautiful, Crisp, Clear) DVD of Minoo Mumtaz! I would like to recommend that post most of all because it includes a list of the contents of Tom’s DVD, which is the best place to look if you want the names of the best songs that she appeared in. (Plus, I think you can still download the DVD’s files if you go to the site linked there and follow the directions.) But I’m also happy to recommend this old post because of the insights and opinions that it contains. I said some very glowing things about Minoo Mumtaz nearly a dozen years ago, and I would say the exact same things now.
I also pointed out some very interesting things that Tom had written about her. For example, there is the fact that he actually prefers to watch a mujra by Minoo Mumtaz than one by Vyjayanthimala. And he is not the only one who has said such a thing. Just today, another friend mentioned on Facebook that she generally prefers Minoo Mumtaz to Vyjayanthimala. And if you ask me about which one I find more relatable and adorable on the screen (as well as often being the greatest mood-lifter), I think I might say that, in general, it is Minoo Mumtaz (which I think is pretty close to the point that Tom had made). But if you want to ask me which one I prefer to watch dancing a mujra…well, please understand that it doesn’t mean I don’t also love Minoo Mumtaz! (I am always a sucker for dazzling and technically superb dancing, and I don’t think anyone can deny that Vyjayanthimala had the edge in that sense. In his comments, Tom also admitted that Vyjayanthimala was a greater dancer.) But, of course, there is no need to compare… The Golden Age was Golden in part because it made room for so many unique and brilliant talents, and Minoo Mumtaz was a mujra queen in her own right – in addition to being a hilarious comedienne, which seems to me like a very unusual combination.
It’s obvious that Minoo’s brother Mehmood is the more famous comedian, and he seems to be much better known in general by a wide audience. This is what I gather because the vast majority of times when I’ve seen Minoo Mumtaz mentioned in a review or an article, she was defined as the “sister of Mehmood.” I always found that to be a little odd because, though I do like Mehmood, if I am asked to define one sibling in relation to the other, I am much more inclined to say that he was the brother of Minoo Mumtaz. It also seems to me that she was the one who took most after their father, Mumtaz Ali – at least in terms of talents – considering that he was a legendary dancer.
Then there is a younger brother to those siblings, Anwar Ali, who acted in films ranging from Seema (as a child actor, performing next to his father) to Bombay to Goa (which I confess I have yet to see in its entirety). Anwar Ali was the one whom I actually corresponded with, a little over eleven years ago, when I was aware of the blog that he had at the time. And under a post that I made about that blog, there was a conversation in the comments section in which several of us wondered whatever had happened to Minoo Mumtaz. Then I received a comment from Anwar Ali’s wife, Mona Mathur Ali, saying that Minoo was doing well and living in Canada. That was so nice to see!
Just a couple of years later, in 2013, an old blogging friend, AK, wrote a post over at Songs of Yore, In Conversation with Minoo Mumtaz, which included an interview that he had done with her as well as one with her son, Ajaz Ali. (He also provided a couple of small clips of both of them speaking – although in Hindi, without English subtitles, so it would take me a while to figure out even a small portion of what either of them are saying – but they should be clear to most of the fans.) If there had been a lot of mysteries about Minoo Mumtaz and her whereabouts that some of us were still trying to figure out, this post certainly solved them. AK’s post also includes a nice collection of videos of songs that were picturized on Minoo Mumtaz, some of which he says were actually recommended by her. Plus, there are a ton more videos recommended in the comments.
AK’s interview revealed that Minoo had been diagnosed with a brain tumor ten years earlier – which had actually been in her head for fifteen years prior – and she had also developed some debilitating symptoms, but after some surgeries, she seemed to be rid of it and recovered nicely. The news stories that I have seen as of this post say that a few days ago she was diagnosed with cancer again (whether related or not, I am not certain) but had been suffering from other “health issues” also. Much of the reporting was based on information from Anwar Ali and Mona Mathur Ali – that is, the same people who made me and a few others happy with the news that Minoo Mumtaz was alive and well back when we wondered if it was even possible to find any recent news about her. I have not had any communications with them directly in recent years, but I understand that they sent other people the information about her death as soon as they could, and they deserve appreciation for their conscientiousness.
I suppose the fact that information about Minoo Mumtaz had once been scarce for so long – at least for many of us – combined, of course, with the fact that she is constantly referred to as the “sister of Mehmood,” shows that she hasn’t really gotten the full recognition that she deserves, at least compared to other greats of the Golden Age. But I get a different sense when I look around our little blogging world, where so many people have had the chance to watch many of the great song-and-dance sequences that she has starred in and even a couple films in which she played major roles. Once people get a good sense of who she was, as I wrote back in 2009… Who doesn’t love Minoo Mumtaz?