Indian Monroe

Indian Monroe

Madhubala is remembered by NYT in its ‘Overlooked’ obituary section

A prominent American newspaper has doffed its cap to Bollywood legend Madhubala who is among 15 remarkable women across the world it pays homage to. The New York Times has gone back in time to remember the contribution of these women by writing their obituary in a new segment called ‘Overlooked’. “Since 1851, obituaries in the New York Times have been dominated by white men. Now, we are adding the stories of 15 remarkable women,” the newspaper wrote. “Obituary writing is more about life than death: the last word, a testament to a human contribution. Yet who gets remembered  — and how — inherently involves judgment.” Madhubala, who has often been compared to another tragic screen icon — Marilyn Monroe, has been profiled by Aisha Khan in the newspaper.

“Madhubala (born as Mumtaz Begum) often portrayed modern young women testing the limits of traditions,” the newspaper said while recalling her first major role as the leading lady in 1949 film ‘Mahal’ opposite Ashok Kumar. She was 16 at the time.

“She died 20 years later as an icon of beauty and tragedy — her dazzling career, unhappy love life and fatal illness more dramatic than any movie she starred in,” it said.

Madhubala was born with a ventricular septal defect, a hole in her heart. The condition was diagnosed in 1954 and there was no treatment for it.

The obituary also chronicles her tragic romance with Dilip Kumar (Muhammad Yusuf Khan, who like Madhubala was discovered and rechristened by Devika Rani).

“They had been eager to marry, but Madhubalas father had set conditions, including that they star in movies he would produce. Kumar demanded that she choose between him and her father. She chose her family. An ugly lawsuit over another movie hastened their breakup,” the newspaper said, adding that it was the big story of her life and added to her legend. Madhubala married singer-actor Kishore Kumar but they became estranged, it said.

As her health deteriorated, the star withdrew from public eye. She died on February 23, 1969, just nine days after her 36th birthday.

The segment also features names such as Margaret Abbott, the first American woman to win an Olympic championship, writer-poet Sylvia Plath, Ada Lovelace, a gifted mathematician credited as the first computer programmer, Henrietta Lacks, whose cancer cells were taken from her body without permission and led to a medical revolution; transgender pioneer Marsha P Johnson; photographer Diane Arbus and feminist poet Qiu Jin.




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