Born as Mumtaz Jehan Dehlavi on February 14, 1933 in Delhi, Madhubala was Bollywood's leading actress in the 50s and the 60s. She was a native Pashto speaker.
Madhubala's started her Bollywood career as a child actress in the movie Basant (1942). It was a box-office success. She played the role of the daughter of actress Mumtaz Shanti. She did several other movies as a child actress.
Her first movie as a female lead was at a very young age. Madhubala was just 14 when she appeared as the lead actress opposite Raj Kapoor in Neel Kamal (1947). Neel Kamal was her last movie as Mumtaz Jehan. She was later known for her screen name Madhubala.
Madhubala achieved stardom with the 1949 Blockbuster 'Mahal'. Mahal was directed by Kamal Amrohi. Mahal was Bollywood first reincarnation thriller movie where she was cast opposite Ashok Kumar. The film was even included in the British Film Institute's list of "10 great romantic horror films". Madhubala later appeared in several successful Bollywood movies but she is most remembered for her role in Mughal-e-Azam (1960) in which she played a doomed courtesan, Anarkali.
Madhubala was madly in love with actor Dilip Kumar but her father was against this relationship. Being an obedient daughter, she did not leave her parents to marry Dilip Kumar. Later when Dilip Kumar got married, Madhubala tied the knot with Ashok Kumar in 1960; he was aware of Madhubala's illness but didn't realize the gravity of her illness.
Madhubala married Kishore Kumar in 1960 after Kishore Kumar converted to Islam and took up the name Karim Abdul, And according to Leena Chandavarkar (Kishore's fourth wife), "When she realized Dilip was not going to marry her, on the rebound and just to prove to him that she could get whomsoever she wanted, she went and married a man she did not even know properly."
As per Madhubala's sister, Kishore Kumar and Madhubala flew to London after their marriage where the doctor told her she had only two years to live. After that Kishore left her at Madhubala's parents house saying, ‘I can’t look after her. I’m on outdoors often’. But Madhubala wanted to be with him. Kishore Kumar would visit her once in 2 months though. Maybe he wanted to detach himself from her so that the final separation wouldn’t hurt. Kishore bore her medical expenses. They remained married for nine years.
Madhubala had ventricular septal defect (a hole in her heart) which was detected while she was shooting for a movie in 1954. By 1960, Madhubala's condition had deteriorated. Due to Madhubala's ailment, her body would produce extra blood. So it would spill out from the nose and mouth. She also suffered from pulmonary pressure of the lungs and coughed all the time. Every 4 to 5 hours she had to be given oxygen or else would get breathless. She was confined to bed for 9 years. In 1969 she was set to make her directorial debut with the film Farz aur Ishq. However the film was never made as during pre-production, she died on February 23, 1969, shortly after her 36th birthday. Her tomb was built with marble and inscriptions included aayats from the Quran and verse dedications. Her tomb was demolished in 2010 to make space for new graves.