There are few stars who stay on in public memory long after their time and one such a star was Madhubala. Born Mumtaz Jehan Begum Dehelvi, she was screen goddess like none other. Her life began on the day of love but she had to face the tragic twist of never being content in love.
Hers was a life cut short by failing health and despite being adored by millions, she was utterly unlucky in love. She died at the age of 36, unfortunate in all matters of the heart — physical and emotional.
In fact, in her biography, The Mystery and Mystique of Madhubala, freelance journalist, and author, Mohan Deep wrote,
“She was a woman possessed. Haunted by her own insecurities until the very end. She loved men. And lost them. Latif, Mohan Sinha, Kamal Amrohi, Premnath, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Dilip Kumar, Pradeep Kumar, Bharat Bhushan, Kishore Kumar.”
Here’s a look at her troubled relationships with the men she loved and lost.
Madhubala and her childhood sweetheart Latif’s love lasted till she left for Mumbai. Born and raised in Delhi, Madhubala moved to Mumbai to become an actress. It was said that Latif was utterly depressed when she moved to the new city. As a parting gift, she gifted Latif a red rose, which served as a symbol of their love. He had kept the rose with him and placed it on her grave when she died. Now a retired IAS officer, Latif visits Madhubala’s grave every year on February 23 (the day of her demise) and places a red rose on top of it.
2- Kidar Sharma
Kidar Sharma gave Madhubala her first break in movies. Rumors had it that the first time Kidar saw Mahdhubala, he fell for her. Kidar’s one-sided obsession for Madhubala grew, but she did not reciprocate to his feelings. And their ‘supposedly’ one-sided love-story saw a short end. However, Madhubala’s younger sister, Madhur Brij Bhushan talking about the same, said,
“Kidar Sharma and Mohan Sinha were old enough to be her father.”
3- Kamal Amrohi
The director of Bollywood’s biggest cult horror movie, Mahal, was said to be head over heels in love with the actress. It was said that the two would spend hours with each other. Reportedly, Madhubala’s father also approved of their relationship and said,
“Aage chalke ein donho ki shaadi ho jaaye to mujhe koyi aitraaz nahin hai.”
Kamal was an already married man when the duo decided to get married to each other. But, Madhubala did not want to be his second wife and insisted Kamal to divorce his the-then wife, Meena Kumari. Kamal refused to do so and asked Madhubala to adjust with his first wife. It was also said that Madhubala put forward an outrageous deal where she offered to pay Kamal, a sum amount of Rs 9 lakh to marry him. However, her sister Madhur refuted all such rumors and had said,
“Kamal Amrohi was a married man and given our economic conditions how could she, the sole earning member of our family, offer him Rs 9 lakh?”
Premnath and Madhubala met each other on the sets of Badal. Their relationship went on for a period of 6 months after which Madhubala started to distance herself from him. They broke off when he asked her to convert and she refused. This was even confirmed by her sister Madhur in an interview to Filmfare,
“Apa first fell in love with Premnath. The relationship lasted six months. It broke on grounds of religion. He asked her to convert and she refused.”
5- Dilip Kumar
Their love story and period of courtship was epic. Dilip and Madhubala first met on the sets of Tarana and love blossomed between the two. Theirs was a long relationship that went on for nine years. The couple was deeply in love and was even engaged to get married. It is said that it was Madhubala’s father Ataullah Khan who objected to the match. Madhubala kept on crying for days and even tried working things out on the phone but Dilip Kumar would not budge. Madhur shared a part of the conversation that Madhubala and Dilip Kumar used to have over the call,
“They had conversations on the phone trying to patch up. He kept saying, ‘Leave your father and I’ll marry you’. She’d say, ‘I’ll marry you but just come home, say sorry and hug him’. It was zid (ego) which destroyed their love. But my father never asked her to break the engagement or ever demanded an apology from him.”
Another rumor has it that Madhubala had sent two identical notes with two red roses to both to Dilip Kumar and Premnath. Neither of them could reject the beauty’s proposal. According to The Mystery and Mystique of Madhubala,
“She wanted both her heroes—Premnath and Dilip Kumar. Unknown to her, however, Dilip and Premnath were fast becoming friends. Working together in Aan, the Pathan and the Punjabi shared several private moments together. Such moments were spent in exchanging cigarettes and sharing thoughts. Sometimes, the two buddies confided their secrets. And, the name of Madhubala cropped up. Suddenly, it dawned on them that they had been taken for fools by their young co-star. Both had received a red rose sent through the star’s hairdresser. Both had received identical notes. And the most degrading part—both had replied in the same manner…. The young girl, who looked like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, had made ulloos of them.”
Madhur further refuted all such claims on her sister and shared,
“Tell me, if Premnath and Dilip Kumar were angry over her two-timing, why were they present at her funeral?”
By the late 1950s, their affair was all but over.
6- Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto
Unlike other link-ups from the industry, Zulfiqar was a barrister at the Bombay High Court. He also owned loads of estate in Mumbai, back then. Zulfiqar was a regular visitor on the sets of Mughal-e-Azam, where he would just come to catch a glimpse of the beautiful Anarkali. Their alleged affair was short-lived and it was said that there was no hope for a perspective future in their relationship as Madhubala was still in pain from her last break-up with Dilip Kumar.
7- Kishore Kumar
Madhubala longed for a stable relationship, and it was then that Madhubala met Kishore Kumar while shooting for Chalti Ka Naam Gadi and Half Ticket. They got married in 1960 post which they flew down to London for their honeymoon and it is there that she fell seriously ill and the gravity of the situation was revealed to them. She was detected with a hole in her heart and the doctors said that she has only two years to live. Madhur shares details how Kishore Kumar reacted when he got to know of Madhubala’s illness,
“After marriage they flew to London where the doctor told her she had only two years to live. After that Kishore left her at our house saying, ‘I can’t look after her. I’m on outdoors often’. But she wanted to be with him. He’d visit her once in two months though. Maybe he wanted to detach himself from her so that the final separation wouldn’t hurt. But he never abused her as was reported. He bore her medical expenses. They remained married for nine years.”
Also, Madhubala also had a habit of regularly writing a diary. When she died, her diary was buried in her grave by her father at the Santa Cruz Muslim cemetery.
In retrospect, Madhubala remains one of the most beautiful, talented actors Indian screen has seen. Dubbed Marilyn Monroe of India, the legendary actor still has it in her to arrest peoples’ attention, decades after passing away.