She was his favourite heroine, or one can say she still is. He wrote her biography a few months after she passed away. She represented what no one else could on screen according to him and rightly so. She charmed him and he never met her. Maybe that is the beauty of interactions you do not have you have them and those are the ones that last forever. It did for Vinod Mehta, when he started writing his book on the legendary Meena Kumari in 1972.
The book has been reprinted by Harper Collins and it is a boon to all lovers of biographies and but of course for fans of the actress. Meena Kumaris life was always seen upon as one of tragedy. From her unsuccessful marriage to the various lovers who used her, she was always the centre of attention for the longest time. Meena Kumari talks of the actress as the authors heroine. He speaks fondly of her. He speaks of her with great sadness. He speaks of her life, her childhood, her voluminous body of work and the way she lived and died. At the same time, he tries to get away from the tragedy queen bracket cut out for her.
The writing is vivid and paints pictures in the readers head. It is empathic and yet controlling, without becoming too sentimental. Vinod Mehta writes with a connection which is also quite neutral. He has documented every single aspect and has also to a large extent not judged people in her life, which would have been quite difficult to do. Read the biography to know more about one of the reigning stars of the Indian Film Industry and you will not be disappointed.
The Life and Times of Indias Greatest Tragedienne. Vinod Mehtas riveting account of Meena Kumaris life begins with her death, weeks after the release of her swan - song Pakeezah. He goes back in time to Meetawala Chawl in Dadar East, where she was born and to the flats and mansions she lived in, the studios where she worked, the hospital where she died and the cemetery she was cremated in. Having never met the star, Mehta talks to all those who were close to her maligned husband Kamal Amrohi, her sisters, her in-laws, her colleagues and co-stars to create a complex portrait of a woman who carefully cultivated the image of someone unfairly exploited and betrayed by her lovers and lady luck. It was a picture that blended with her on-screen persona. The media had, after all, already anointed her Hindi cinemas great tragedienne.