Mahamateshwariji was very fond of watching movies and liked all the Bollywood heroines of yesteryears. But her most famous heroines were Suraiya, Madhubala and Nargis
Suraiya Jamaal Sheikh (15 June 1929 - 31 January 2004) was a singer and actress of the Indian films in the 40s and 50s, and was popularly known by her first name Suraiya.
Suraiya was born in Gujranwala, Punjab, (which is in Pakistan), and was the only child of her parents. She was not formally trained in music; yet she went on to become a successful singing actress. She attended New Girls' also known as J.B. Petit High School for Girls, in Fort, Bombay (Mumbai). She received religious teachings in Persian at home.
Suraiya made her debut as a child artist in Usne Kya Socha (1937). She got a prominent role as a child artist with the help of her uncle Zahoor, who was then a popular villain actor. During a holiday from school in 1941, she accompanied him to Mohan Studios to see the shooting of the film Taj Mahal which was being directed by Nanubhai Vakil. Vakil noticed Suraiya and not having in his mind at that time any particular young girl to play the role of young Mumtaz Mahal in Taj mahal, selected Suraiya to play that role.
Music director Naushad once heard Suraiya's voice on All India Radio while she sang for a children's program, and chose her to sing as a 13 year old for Mehtaab in Kardar's film Sharda[disambiguation needed] (1942). He was Suraiya’s mentor and she sang some of the best songs of her career under his baton. Later he gave hits after hits when Suraiya became full fledged singing star in Anmol Ghadi (1946), Dard (1947), Dillagi (1949) and Dastaan (1950). Naushad composed approximately 51 songs for Suraiya, coming at 2nd place after Husnlal Bhagatram for composing the highest number of songs for Suraiya.
As an adult, Suraiya initially played secondary roles in K. Asif's Phool (1944), Mehboob Khan's Anmol Ghadi (1946), which was written by Aghajani Kashmeri also Kashmiri, and Dard (1947). She got a break as a heroine for the film Tadbir (1945) at the recommendation of K. L. Saigal, who liked her voice during a rehearsal. She went on to costar with Saigal in Omar Khayyam (1946) and Parwana (1947). Although by then she had a couple of hit songs, but the four solo songs which she sang in Parwana made her a genuine singer star. She considered Composer of these songs, Khawaja Khurshid Anwar as her favorite Music Director for whom she sang just thirteen songs during 1943 to 1949. More opportunities arose for Suraiya after reigning actresses Noor Jehan and Khursheed Bano migrated to Pakistan following the 1947 partition of British India. As an actress, Suraiya had an edge over her contemporaries Kamini Kaushal and Nargis because she could sing her own songs. After three hits Pyar ki jeet (1948), Badi Behen, and Dillagi (1949), she became the highest paid female star. But her reign at the top was brief; her films started flopping in the 1950s. She made a comeback in Waaris and Mirza Ghalib (1954). Rustom Sohrab (1963) was her last film.
Suraiya was romantically involved with actor Dev Anand. The two of them costarred in six films between 1948 and 1951. Dev Anand finally proposed to Suraiya and gave her a diamond ring worth Rs 3,000 but her maternal grandmother opposed the relationship as they were Muslim and Dev Anand was a Hindu. Out of this grief Suraiya decided to remain a spinster all her life. They stopped acting together, after her grandmother opposed, so Do Sitare 1951, turned out to be the last film of the pair to release.
Suraiya lived in her apartment on Marine Drive in Mumbai until her death due to cancer in 2004 at age 75.
Mumtaz Jahan Begum Dehlavi, known by her screen name Madhubala was a Hindi movie actress. Her enduring screen fame derives from her appearances in film classics such as Mahal (1949), Mr & Mrs 55 (1955), Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958) and Mughal E Azam (1960). She was prolific from 1949 to 1960 when illness abbreviated her career. With her contemporaries Nargis and Meena Kumari, she is widely regarded as one of the most influential and talented Hindi movie actresses.
Madhubala was born as Mumtaz Jahan Begum Dehlavi in New Delhi, India on 14 February 1933 to a conservative Muslim couple of Pathan descent.
Mumtaz’s first movie Basant (1942) was a box-office success. She played in it as the daughter of the popular actress Mumtaz Shanti. She went on to act in several movies as a child artist. Actress Devika Rani was impressed by her performances and potential and advised her to assume the name Madhubala, meaning "a woman of honey". Madhubala soon garnered reputation as a reliable professional performer. By the time she entered adolescence, she was being groomed for lead roles.
Her first break came when producer Kadar Sharma cast her opposite Raj Kapoor in Neel Kamal (1947). She was fourteen when she was given a lead role. She consolidated the emphatic success of Mahal with subsequent box office hits Dulari (1949), Beqasoor (1950), Tarana (1951) and Badal (1951). These successful films placed her among the most bankable and prolific actresses of the early 1950s alongside established contemporaries Kamini Kaushal, Suraiya and Nargis. It is of note that of the 70 plus films Madhubala made in her career, only a relatively small number, 15, were successful at the box office from 1947 to 1964. Despite this fact she remained in demand as an actress with producers and directors largely due to her star power and unprecedented popularity with the general movie going public.
Madhubala was found to have a heart problem after she coughed up blood in 1950. She was discovered to have been born with a ventricular septal defect, commonly known as a "hole in the heart". At the time, heart surgery was not widely available. Since she was the only source of income for her family, her illness was kept hidden by her family and was infact made to take all kinds of roles which came her way.
It was the film Mughal-e-Azam that marked what many consider to be her greatest and definitive characterization as the doomed courtesan Anarkali. In 1960, Madhubala hit the peak of her career and popularity with the release of back-to-back blockbusters Mughal-e-Azam and Barsaat Ki Raat. She was offered strong, author-backed roles, but her deteriorating health did not permit her to enjoy this period and develop as an actress. At this point Madhubala became so ill that she could not accept any new films or even complete her existing assignments. Madhubala finally succumbed to her illness and died on 23 February 1969, shortly after her 36th birthday.
Nargis Dutt, born Fatima Rashid but known by her screen name, Nargis, was an Indian film actress. She is widely regarded as one of the greatest actresses in the history of Hindi cinema. She made her screen debut as a child in Talash-E-Haq in 1935, but her acting career began in 1942 with Tamanna. During a career that spanned from the 1940s to the 60s, Nargis appeared in numerous commercially successful as well as critically appreciated films, many of which featured her alongside actor and filmmaker Raj Kapoor.
She made her first film appearance in the 1935 Talashe Haq when she was six years old, credited as "Baby Nargis". Nargis, is a Persian word meaning Narcissus, daffodil flower. She was subsequently credited as Nargis in all of her films.
One of her best-known roles was that of Radha in the Academy Award-nominated Mother India (1957), a performance that won her Best Actress trophy at the Filmfare Awards. In 1958, Nargis married her Mother India co-star, actor Sunil Dutt, and left the film industry. She would appear infrequently in films during the 60s. Some of her films of this period include the drama Raat Aur Din (1967), for which she got the inaugural National Film Award for Best Actress.
Along with her husband, Nargis formed the Ajanta Arts Cultural Troupe, which roped in several leading actors and singers of the time and held stage shows at border areas. In early 1970s, she became the first patron of Spastics Society of India, and her subsequent work with the organisation brought her recognition as a social worker, and later a Rajya Sabha nomination in 1980.
Nargis died in 1981 of pancreatic cancer, a few days before her son Sanjay Dutt made his film debut in Bollywood. In 1982, the Nargis Dutt Memorial Cancer Foundation was established in her memory. The award for best feature film on national integration in the annual National Film Awards ceremony is called the Nargis Dutt Award.