Meena Kumari or Mahjabeen Bano (August 1, 1932 - March 31, 1972), was a prominent Indian movie actress.
Meena Kumari gained fame with her role as a heroine in Vijay Bhatt's Baiju Bawra (1952). This heroine always negated herself for the material and spiritual advancement of the man she loved and was even willing to annihilate herself to provide him the experience of pain so that his music would be enriched. She became the first actress to win the Filmfare Best Actress Award in 1953 for this performance.
Meena Kumari highly successfully played the roles of a suffering woman in Parineeta (1953), Daera (1953), Ek Hi Raasta (1956), Sharda (1957), and Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi (1960). Though she cultivated the image of a tragedienne, she also performed commendably in a few light-hearted movies like Azaad (1955), Miss Mary (1957), Shararat (1959), and Kohinoor (1960).
One of her best known performance was of an alcoholic wife in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962), which was produced by Guru Dutt. In one memorable scene, the heroine, Choti Bahu, dresses for her husband, providing a poignant presentation of a woman's expectations and sexual desire.
At that time, Meena Kumari herself was on a road to gradual ruin in her own personal life. Like her character, Choti Bahu, she began to drink heavily, though she carried on. In fact, in 1962, she made history by being nominated for three Filmfare Best Actress Awards for her roles in Aarti, Main Chup Rahungi, and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. She won the award for her role in Aarti.
There are some eerie commonalities between the lives of Choti Bahu and Meena Kumari: The estranged marital relationship, the taking to drinking, the seeking of younger male company, and the craving to be understood and loved by all.