Sunday, March 22, 2009

Roop Ki Rani: Madhubala

Finally, the first installment of the Roop ki Rani beauty icon series...Seeing as this blog was started by two desi women, I had to start with a desi beauty icon - the incomparable Madhubala.

Aishwarya Rai may be dubbed "The Most Beautiful Woman in the World," but even today Hindi film actress Madhubala is widely regarded as possibly the most beautiful actress that Bollywood has produced. She starred in a number of Hindi films in the 1950s and 1960s, including Basant, Mahal and the ever famous Mughal-e-Azam.

Interestingly, in the 1950s, Madhubala attracted attention from Hollywood. U.S. filmmaker Frank Capra had proposed a meeting to discuss Madhubala's welcome into Hollywood although her father was against this and thus ended any hopes for her in Hollywood.

Here is a You Tube video of one of the most renowned songs from Mughal-e-Azam...her dancing is just amazing!

In the present, Madhubala still ranks at the top of polls and surveys as one of the most popular Hindi film actresses ever, most likely due to her ability to change characters in her films so convincingly, from courtesan to heiress to village girl. Wikipedia states that no other vintage Hindi film actress has as large of a video sharing presence on You Tube as Madhubala.

Although our image of Hindi film of the past is a conservative one, Madhubala actually broke some barriers by portraying western and even vamped up characters in her films - a bold move in India back in the 1950s!!

Sadly, Madhubala's love life wasn't without conflict and she passed away at a fairly young age due to illness.

As for her beauty looks, Madhubala pulled off the traditional kajal lined heroine just as well as the red-lipstick'd siren. Her eyebrows were well defined for facial expression, similar to the Hollywood actresses of her time. Her hair was often put up or into braids depending on her role, but with noticeable curls framing her face.
Notice in her photos that a white liner was often used to line the lower waterline to make her eyes look larger. This is a trick that was used back in the old days and even now to draw attention to the eyes! For Madhubala's films, however, this trick was especially significant where emotions and expressions were sometimes only conveyed through the eyes rather than through body language.

Biography info via Wikipedia


  1. yay im so glad you started wiht her..shes such a classic beauty..and her gorgeous lopsided smile..

  2. classic beauty, really. she looks so natural, but beautiful. still to this day, her beauty is timeless

    and may i add that madhuri dixit sort of looks like madhubala! :) which is also why i think madhuri is such a beauty!

  3. Good call, BabyJanny! I totally see the resemblance between Madhubala and Madhuri. It seems like Madhuri's features are just ever so slightly sharper than Madhubala's but I think the curvier face is lovely also.

    Not entirely sure why, but she sort of reminds me of a desi Vivien Leigh. I think that's just b/c of the hair and makeup of the era though.

  4. Excellent choice...she was incomparably beautiful. I remember at a Aasha Bhonsle concert, she was reminiscing about how even her heart skipped a beat when Madhubala laughed.
    And, wow, I never knew about Frank Capra. She would've been great in hollywood.

  5. Loved this post Kohl Girl!

    Suchitra Sen (of old Bengali movies) also resembled Madhubala and Madhuri.
    Check her out by doing a google image search.


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