‘Queen’ To Reprise The ‘Tragedy Queen’

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Earlier this month, news broke out that Kangana Ranaut would indeed be playing Meena Kumari in the biopic, Meenabakamaal, being directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia. The shooting of the film, which is an adaptation of Vinod Mehta’s book – Meena Kumari: The Classic Biography, is said to begin sometime in 2016, given the “Queen’s” super tight schedule.

Kangana had been, time and again, compared with the tragedy queen Meena Kumari, who was a well known name in the 50s and 60s. Hence, the possibility of Kangana reprising her on the big screen, did not come as a surprise to many.

Meena Kumari was an iconic star of her time, known in equal measure for her scintillating appearance, on one hand, and her skill as an extremely powerful performer, on the other. And Kangana is no different. While on one hand, she can dazzle the audience with her unconventional looks, on the other she has the audience blown away by her enigmatic performance on screen, too. While the former has pathbreaking films like Pakeezah and Chitralekha in her kitty, the latter has off late broken the stereotype of the quintessential Indian heroine with her viraginous roles in films like Queen and Tanu Weds Manu.

While you and I may be fully convinced with Kangana’s casting as Meena Kumari, film producer and Meena Kumari’s stepson, Tajdar Amrohi, begs to differ. Talking to mid-day, he said, “She is anything but Meena Kumari. My chhoti ammi was traditional and had a very strong personality and Kangana is completely opposite of her and does not suit the role.

“Kangana in no way will be able to justify her character. She is too modern to play the role,” he added.

An evidently possessive Amrohi observed, “There have been yesteryear actresses like Madhubala, Devika Rani, Geeta Dutt and there are also stories about them why are they after my mother.

Well, the answer to his question may lie in his mother’s fascinating life story. Despite having enjoyed tremendous professional success, the actor died at the early age of 39 succumbing to alcohol addiction. She turned to alcohol after her divorce with Kamal Amrohi to counter depression and loneliness. As irony would have it, the woman who reined the film industry for years had no money to pay her hospital bills at the time of her death. Her stardom that had once outshone that of all her contemporaries, drowned in alcohol, as did her life.

The sadness that beleaguered her very existence is captured best in her own words:

“Tum kya karo ge sun kar mujh se meri kahani
Bay lutf zindagi ke qissay hain pheekay pheekay”

(Why do you want to listen to my story:
Colourless tales of a joyless life).

Keeping the above in mind, and remembering the cogency with which Kanagana played the role of an addict in Fashion, how can anyone dispute Kangana’s ability to reprise the “Tragedy Queen”? All one can really say is that given Kangana’s phenomenal skill as an actor, and Meena Kumari’s enthralling life journey, the film is sure to be a treat for the fans of both these heroines.

Sanya Dhingra

Image Source: The Viewspaper