This newly-married bride , not Madhubala, was K Asif’s first choice for Anarkali in Mughal-i-Azam – Haalo
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This newly-married bride , not Madhubala, was K Asif’s first choice for Anarkali in Mughal-i-Azam

Written by Tasneem Khan

In a career spanning 22 years, Mahdubala had acted in around 74 films of different genres. But she is still remembered and will be remembered forever for the role of the doomed courtesan Anarkali  in director K Asif’s epic Mughal-i-Azam.

The film historians say Madhubala’s legendary beauty, her coquettish charm and restrained acting has made Anarkali immortal.

But was she the first choice for the role of Anarkali? No. K Asif had selected another woman for the role of Anarkali after seeing her performance in a theatrical production called ‘Anakarli’. It is said that K Asif in 1944 had decided to make Mughal-i-Azam after reading a play set during the reign of Emperor Akbar.

Courtesy:Dawn     During seven-year of abusive marriage she kept up appearances, accompanied her politician husband on campaign rallies, hosted elegant soirées with the pallu of her sari draped just so that the bruises would not be visible.”

Courtesy:Dawn   During seven-year of abusive marriage she kept up appearances, accompanied her politician husband on campaign rallies, hosted elegant soirées with the pallu of her sari draped just so that the bruises would not be visible.”

Sophia Naz, a US-based poet,   2016 Pushcart Prize nominee  and the daughter of the woman selected by K Asif, has narrated her mother’s turbulent and torturous journey in a moving tribute to her in Pakistani newspaper Dawn.

Naz says in the early 50s, her mother as a newly-married bride in Bombay and portrayed Anarkali in a theatrical production.

“The director, K Asif, happened to see the play and was so taken up with her performance that he wanted to cast her as Anarkali in Mughal-e-Azam. Over 200 photos of her were taken on the movie set, including the ones with the iconic feather grazing her face,” writes Naz, daughter from her second husband.

courtesy: Dawn

 

Naz says but her mother had to decline the offer as in those days “women from respected families did not act in ‘pictures’.”

Hailing from a reputable Bhopal family, her mother was married to an abusive politician and barrister in Bombay.

Her public life in Bombay was filled with the trappings of glamour. There were movie premieres with film stars like Dilip Kumar, Madhubala and Kamini Kaushal, photos at official functions with heads of state like Prime Minister Nehru and history-making individuals like Tenzing Norgay, says Naz, adding that the glamorous mirage masked a terrible reality.

” My mother was being violently abused, physically assaulted by her husband at the time. The entire duration of the daily abuse, a period of seven years, she kept up appearances, accompanied her politician husband on campaign rallies, hosted elegant soirées with the pallu of her sari draped just so that the bruises would not be visible.”

She took divorce from her husband after her doctor told her that she will die within 6 months if this abuse continues.

Courtesy: Dawn     Her public life in Bombay was filled with the trappings of glamour. There were movie premieres with film stars like Dilip Kumar, Madhubala and Kamini Kaushal, photos at official functions with Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru

Naz says her mother paid a heavy price for acting on the doctor’s advice as her influential husband took custody of her children. She had to run from pillar to post for 20 years to get a glimpse of her children. Naz says when she finally met in their adult years and they were completely brainwashed by their father. This brief reunion broke her emotionally and to take a break she visited Karachi to attend a wedding where she met Naz’s father and married him.

The strange thing is that in the entire article she has not named her mother (only referred to her as Bia) and abusive ex-husband. The only hint she gives about her mother’s ex-husband is that although he died a long ago, he is revered in India as an author and Islamic scholar.

Naz says the photos taken for Mughal-i-Azam remained in an album which her mother sometimes opened whenever she felt like reminiscing about her life before migrating to Pakistan.

One does not know what would have happened to the history of Indian cinema if Naz’s mother was allowed to act as Anarkali in Mughal-i-Azam.

Picture Courtesy: Dawn

 

 

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Tasneem Khan

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