Meena Kumari (born Mahjabeen Bano, 1 August 1933 – 31 March 1972) was an Indian film actress, singer and poet under the pseudonym Naaz, who starred in classic films of Hindi Cinema. Popularly known as The Tragedy Queen, Chinese Doll and Female Guru Dutt, she is often remembered as Cinderella of Indian films. She was active between 1939-1972.
Indian film critics regarded Meena Kumari as a historically incomparable actress of Hindi cinema. In a career spanning 33 years, she starred in about 92 films such as Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Pakeezah, Mere Apne, Aarti, Baiju Bawra, Parineeta, Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai, Foot Path, Dil Ek Mandir and Kaajal.
Vinod Mehta (writer of Meena Kumari – The Classic Biography) was told by a director: Even Dilip Kumar (the tragedy king) found it difficult to keep his calm in front of her. Raaj Kumar would often forget his dialogues while working with Meena Kumari on set. Madhubala was also a fan of Meena Kumari and said: She has the most unique voice. No other heroine has it. Satyajit Ray described Kumari as undoubtedly an actress of the highest calibre. Amitabh Bachchan said No one, not any one, ever spoke dialogues the way Meena Kumari did .. no one .. not anyone to date.. and perhaps never will. Music Director Naushad said Hindi film industry may produce great actresses but there would never be another Meena Kumari. Meena Kumari empathized greatly with Marilyn Monroe, the fact that Marilyns husband, Arthur Miller, had some passing similarities to Meenas husband Kamal Amrohi, made the identification closer. It is said that throughout her life, Meena Kumari had a love–hate relationship with the movies.Meena Kumari won four Filmfare Awards in the Best Actress category. She was the recipient of the inaugural Filmfare Best Actress Award for Baiju Bawra in 1954 and had a consecutive win in the second Filmfare Awards (1955) for Parineeta. Kumari made history at the 10th Filmfare Awards (1963), by receiving all of the nominations for Best Actress and won for her performance in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. In the 13th Filmfare Awards (1966), Kumari won her last Best Actress award for Kaajal.
The greatest hallmark of Meena Kumari laid in her ability to depict the struggle of Indian women existing especially in the 50s and 60s. Kumaris onscreen persona is described as a perfect example of a traditional Bharatiya Nari by the Indian film fraternity, such as Mohammed Zahur Khayyam and Javed Akhtar. Her portrayal of Sahibjaan, a nautch girl with a golden heart in Pakeezah under Kamal Amrohis direction became a historical document.