Dharmendra was roped in by director Kamal Amrohi to play the lead role in Pakeezah.
As stated by journalist Ali Peter John, Kamal could never become a good husband to Meena and constantly kept a tab on her.
Meena Kumari’s life was no less dramatic than the roles she played in films. Born in a chawl, Meena went on to become one of India’s biggest screen icons with her phenomenal work in films like Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Pakeezah and others. When talking about her stellar body of work, Pakeezah tops the list not only because of the amazing craft with which it was directed but also because of the interesting anecdotes associated with it. Keep reading this space to know more about Pakeezah, which acquired the status of a cult classic over the years.
Not many are aware, but initially, Dharmendra was roped in by director Kamal Amrohi to play the lead role in Pakeezah. However, Kamal backed out of his decision soon. Reportedly, he was infuriated with the reports of Dharmendra and Meena’s link-ups which, as some said, lasted for over three years. Others were of the view that the affair lasted for over six months. Whatever the reality was, it angered Kamal to such an extent that he decided not to take Dharmendra as the male lead.
Apart from this affair, there were not only one but a host of other problems that sent Meena’s marriage with Kamal into the doldrums and created problems for the film Pakeezah. As stated by journalist Ali Peter John, Kamal could never become a good husband to Meena and constantly kept a tab on her. There were reports that Kamal even used to tell Meena to come home by 6:30 PM. In Meena Kumari’s biography, Vinod Mehta wrote that there were instances of physical violence as well in this marriage. All of this culminated in marital discord between Meena and Kamal and they soon parted ways. This reported separation became one of the other pivotal reasons for the delay in Pakeezah’s release by 14 years.
Despite the separation, Meena was a thorough professional and decided to stick to her commitment to working in Pakeezah. As stated in the reports, she had taken this decision because Kamal had written a letter to her to be a part of this film, keeping their differences aside. “Pakeezah that is like a sinking ship, will reach a shore under your care,” was the last line of the letter. Meena agreed to work in this movie and the rest is history.
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