A court case, a rose, a lonely actress and an epic love that captured India’s attention. As we remember Dilip Kumar, we also remember Madhubala, the woman he promised to love till her death.
Two stars on the rise
Dilip Kumar and Madhubala were both Pathans, whose lineage was from Pakistan. The latter began as a child artiste who supported her entire family with her acting. Attaullah Khan, her father, was extremely protective of her. Even after she became a star as a teenager, she was not allowed to socialise, even attend her own premieres. Infact, she would drive around wearing a burqa for the fear of getting mobbed. Friendless and carrying her family’s survival on her shoulders, the young actress was more than anything else, lonely – until Dilip Kumar came into her life.
2. A Rose & A Note
Madhubala is said to have played a prank on many of her costars. She would send them a red rose with a note saying, ‘If you love me, accept this rose and I will know it’s true.’ But when she did it to Dilip Kumar, who accepted it graciously, she was head over heels in love with him! She blushed and perspired as every mention of his name, was giddy with anticipation when he was to arrive – and he in turn, was besotted with her. They would meet secretly at friends’ homes away from the eagle gaze of her father.
3. Mughal – E – Azam
Madhubala would go down in history as the heroine of Mughal – E – Azam as the tragic Anarkali, who sought to love a man said to be out of her reach. Dilip Kumar had a great hand in her casting and once the director was privy to their off screen relationship, he was assured of crackling chemistry onscreen. However, the film took 7 long years to make, and by then, their relationship had begun to sour. Over time, they would refuse to even address each other when not shooting. Dilip Kumar would later say that the film itself was a testament to their professionalism and commitment to acting as nothing in it was remotely indicative of their then-stormy relationship.
4. ‘I will love Madhubala till she dies.’
What brought about the souring of one of Bollywood’s most iconic pairs was the ‘Naya Daur’ court case. BR Chopra had signed both Dilip Kumar and Madhubala. After a schedule of 15 days of shooting, she was required to shoot for 40 days in Madhya Pradesh. However, her father refused to send her, citing her heart condition and the dacoit infestation that plagued Madhya Pradesh at the time. While Chopra agreed to sign another actress to replace her, he demanded his advance back, which he was refused. Dilip Kumar testified for BR Chopra, even though he was engaged to Madhubala at the time. The strain on their relationship was apparent, but even after the case, rumours were that he asked her to marry him immediately. However, there were tougher things to come for the pair – challenges that they would not be able to rise from.
What were the challenges? How did India’s most in-demand pair of the time eventually fizzle out? Find out in True Love Stories: Dilip Kumar and Madhubala, here.