From Delhi to Hollywood: The Resonance of Madhubala & Marilyn Monroe

Madhubala and Marilyn Monroe, despite geographical differences, have strikingly similar lives that shaped both Bollywood and Hollywood.

From Delhi to Hollywood_ The Resonance of Madhubala & Marilyn Monroe - F

"I want to be an artist, not an erotic freak."

In cinematic history, two luminaries, Madhubala from Bollywood and Marilyn Monroe from Hollywood, have always shone brightly.

Despite the cultural and geographical distance, their lives have uncannily resonated with one another, shaping both Bollywood and Hollywood cinema.

Madhubala, born Mumtaz Jehan Begum Dehlavi in Delhi (1933), and Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortenson (1926) from Los Angeles, captivated audiences in their respective film industries.

Their journeys, despite emerging from different cultures, unite in a striking symmetry of originating from humble beginnings to becoming global stars.

The New York Times in 2018 published an obituary of Madhubala for International Women’s Day, which was titled “Madhubala a Bollywood legend whose tragic life mirrored Marilyn Monroe’s.”

Similarly, Madhubala’s sister, Madhur Bhushan, also stated in an interview that during their lifetime Madhubala was compared to Marilyn Monroe often.

Navigating Adversity in Youth

From Delhi to Hollywood_ The Resonance of Madhubala & Marilyn Monroe - 1Madhubala and Marilyn Monroe had profoundly different yet challenging childhoods.

While Madhubala experienced financial hardship and the loss of siblings, Monroe faced a tumultuous upbringing characterised by moving through foster homes and dealing with her mother’s mental health issues.

Madhubala’s younger sister stated in an interview: “I had an older brother who passed away before me being born.

“When he died my father was so poor, he couldn’t even afford money for his burial shroud, my father went to his relative’s house to beg for money to bury his son.”

Madhubala encountered financial struggles due to her family’s poverty and her father losing his job at the Imperial Tobacco Company in Delhi.

This created a challenging environment for her upbringing.

Madhubala was born into a poor, conservative Muslim family in Delhi.

Her father’s financial crisis forced him to shift to Mumbai in search of work.

Additionally, the loss of four siblings added emotional distress to her childhood, as she witnessed the tragedy of death within her family.

On the other hand, Marilyn Monroe’s childhood was marked by instability and emotional hardships stemming from her mother’s mental health condition.

Monroe spent her early years in an orphanage and various foster homes, around 11 in total, due to her mother’s struggles with schizophrenia.

Lois Banner wrote about her early life, stating: “Her mother, Gladys Monroe Baker, was a poorly paid film cutter in a Hollywood editing studio.

“Her father never recognised her, and Gladys placed her in a foster home when she was three months old.”

Marilyn was also sexually assaulted when she was in foster homes, one assault took place by a man she called “Mr Kimmel” when she was eight.

Lois Banner continues in her book: “The sexual abuse she endured as a child was formative in moulding her adult character….

“It can fragment a personality, producing in Marilyn’s case, multiple alters, of which she was aware.”

Unlike Madhubala, Monroe’s mother, Gladys, worked as a film cutter at RKO Studios in Los Angeles, emphasising a contrast in their family backgrounds.

As documented by biographers, Marilyn Monroe faced a different kind of adversity.

Norma Jeane stated that children taunted her for being an “orphan”, she feared that if the children knew that her mother was in a mental institution the taunting would be much worse.

Therefore, Norma claimed that both her parents were dead and that she was an orphan.

Banner writes: “It was also in line with her feelings about her situation, with both a mother and a father absent from her life.”

Both Madhubala and Marilyn Monroe grew up in financially challenging circumstances.

Madhubala’s family faced poverty, and struggled with necessities, while Monroe confronted financial hardships due to her mother’s inability to provide consistent care and her unstable living situations in foster homes.

Madhubala experienced the loss of several siblings, while Monroe, without her father around, endured neglect and abuse in foster homes.

Madhubala’s family, despite financial struggles, remained together, whereas Monroe lacked a stable family structure and parental support due to her mother’s mental health issues and her father’s absence.

Their adversities differed significantly, with Madhubala facing poverty and family loss, while Monroe endured instability, neglect, and abuse within the foster care system.

Madhubala’s Early Struggles & Triumphs

From Delhi to Hollywood_ The Resonance of Madhubala & Marilyn Monroe - 2Madhubala, previously known as Mumtaz, got noticed by Himanshu Rai while looking for acting opportunities in the film industry.

Her father, Ataullah Khan, accompanied her. Rai chose her for a movie called Basant (1942) and paid her Rs. 500 each month for her role, at the age of nine.

Madhur Bhushan stated that: “Madhubala when she was young, definitely struggled whether it was going from studio to studio in search of work…

“Or whether it was not having money for food or not having a stable home; even spending nights on the streets.”

In Katijia Akbar’s book, ‘I Want to Live: The Story of Madhubala’, her sister Madhur Bhushan wanted to clarify that:

“My sister loved to sing and dance and was fond of music and poetry.

“It’s wrong to accuse my father of compelling her to work in films – films came her way; he never pushed her into anything.

“My sister wanted to be an actress and the money she bought helped the family.

“He couldn’t imagine he’d get so caught up chaperoning her that he’d never get back to working himself.”

Even though she wasn’t named in the film credits, Mumtaz’s work in Basant helped support her family financially.

She continued acting in other movies as a child artist, credited as “Baby Mumtaz.”

About five years after Himanshu Rai’s passing, his former wife and actress Devika Rani renamed Mumtaz as Madhubala, which means ‘honey belle.’

Rani also trained and prepared her to become a new leading actress in the industry.

In 1947, Kidar Sharma, the producer-director of Neel Kamal approached Madhubala for the lead role in the film.

Sharma was actively seeking a fresh face for the film, and during his quest for a new actress to star opposite Raj Kapoor in Neel Kamal, he noticed Madhubala.

Impressed by her beauty and potential, Sharma approached and selected her for the pivotal role in the movie.

This decision was crucial in launching Madhubala’s career as a prominent actress in the Indian film industry.

Kidar Sharma wrote about Madhubala, still known then as Mumtaz, stating:

“Neither her looks nor her raw talent impressed me so much as her intelligence and diligence.

“She worked like a machine, travelled daily in the overcrowded third-class compartments from Malad to Dadar, and was never late or absent from work.

“Even at that age, the little lady knew her duty to her father who had so many mouths to feed with no visible means of support.”

In 1949, Kamal Amrohi approached Madhubala for the role of Kamini in the movie, Mahal, the story was about “unfulfilled love that is carried from one life to another”.

Kamal Amrohi decided on Madhubala “who was not then a very big name”.

Mahal was a significant movie in Madhubala’s career that notably contributed to her rising popularity.

The film marked a crucial turning point and significantly enhanced her recognition and status in the Indian film industry.

Ashok Kumar stated: “When we were casting for Mahal, I know we needed a very beautiful and ethereal girl who could play the spirit.

“Madhubala was about 15 or 16 then…”

Madhubala’s portrayal of Kamini in Mahal was captivating, earning her widespread acclaim for her performance.

The movie’s success, coupled with Madhubala’s exceptional acting abilities, undoubtedly played a pivotal role in catapulting her popularity to new heights.

The haunting and enigmatic character of Kamini became iconic, and Madhubala’s portrayal left a lasting impact on audiences.

While Mahal was a major milestone that notably contributed to Madhubala’s fame, her overall popularity was a culmination of several successful films and remarkable performances throughout her career.

It’s essential to acknowledge the collective impact of her body of work, with Mahal standing out as a key film that significantly raised her prominence and consolidated her position as one of the most celebrated actresses in Indian cinema.

Norma Jeane to Marilyn

From Delhi to Hollywood_ The Resonance of Madhubala & Marilyn Monroe - 3In Ted Schwarz’s biography ‘Marilyn Revealed: The Ambitious Life of an American Icon’, he writes about Monroe’s early exposure to the world of cinema:

She was quoted in Ben Hecht’s book: “I used to think as I looked out on the Hollywood night…

“There must be thousands of girls sitting alone like me, dreaming of becoming a movie star.

“But I’m not going to worry about them. I’m dreaming the hardest.”

In the same book, Marilyn goes on to talk about her passion for acting, it’s clear that it became a form of escape from her depressing life:

“There was this secret in me – acting. It was like being in jail and looking at a door that said, ‘This way out’.

“Acting was something golden and beautiful… it was like a game you played that enabled you to step out of the dull world you knew into worlds so bright that they made your hearts leap just to think of them.”

She further adds: “I thought all actors and actresses were geniuses sitting on the front porch of paradise – the movies.”

Marilyn got married at the age of 16 primarily to escape the foster care system or to go back to the orphanage.

Her early life was marked by instability and challenges.

After spending much of her childhood in and out of foster homes, Norma Jeane sought a way to break free from this environment and find stability.

In 1942, during World War II, she married James Dougherty, a 21-year-old aircraft factory worker.

The decision to marry at such a young age was influenced by both personal and societal factors, escape from the foster home, desire for stability, and personal circumstances.

The wartime context contributed to a sense of urgency and a desire for stability during uncertain times.

Additionally, the marriage offered Norma Jeane a way out of the foster care system, providing her with what seemed like a more secure and stable home life.

While her husband, James Dougherty, was serving in the Merchant Marine during World War II, Marilyn Monroe entered the workforce to support herself.

Her journey from factory work to becoming a model and eventually getting discovered in the entertainment industry is a fascinating part of her early life.

During the war, Norma Jeane worked at the Radioplane Munitions Factory in Van Nuys, California.

It was there that she was discovered by a photographer named David Conover, who was taking pictures of women contributing to the war effort for Yank magazine.

Conover’s photographs of Norma Jeane showcased her beauty and caught the attention of others.

After being discovered by Conover, Norma Jeane’s modelling career took off.

She signed with the Blue Book Model Agency and appeared in numerous advertisements and magazine covers.

This period marked her transformation into Marilyn Monroe, as she began to gain recognition for her striking looks and photogenic appeal.

Marilyn’s work as a model drew the attention of talent scouts in Hollywood.

She decided to pursue acting and took classes at the Actors Studio.

In 1947, she signed her first film contract with Twentieth Century Fox.

Monroe’s early film roles included small parts in movies such as Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948) and The Asphalt Jungle (1950).

While these were not leading roles, they provided her with valuable on-set experience and exposure to the film industry.

Marilyn Monroe’s breakthrough came with her roles in films like All About Eve (1950) and The Asphalt Jungle (1950).

These roles garnered attention for her captivating on-screen presence, and Hollywood began to take notice of her potential as an actress.

As Monroe’s acting abilities became more recognised, she started securing leading roles in films like Niagara (1953) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).

These movies established her as a bona fide star and showcased her versatility as an actress.

Both Madhubala and Marilyn Monroe faced early challenges in their careers, such as Madhubala’s studio-to-studio searches for work and Monroe’s work in a munitions factory.

Both actresses played crucial roles in supporting their families through their early work.

Madhubala and Marilyn Monroe had early exposure to the film industry.

Himanshu Rai noticed Madhubala at a young age, while Monroe’s mother worked as a film cutter at RKO, exposing her to the magic of filmmaking from childhood.

Both actresses transformed their names and images.

Madhubala was renamed by Devika Rani, and Marilyn Monroe adopted her stage name, symbolising shifts in their public personas.

Madhubala’s pivotal role in Mahal and Monroe’s performances in films like All About Eve and The Asphalt Jungle marked breakthrough moments, garnering critical acclaim, and contributing significantly to their rising popularity.

Madhubala’s sister mentioned her love for singing, dancing, music, and poetry.

Similarly, Marilyn Monroe expressed her dreams of becoming a movie star, showcasing a shared passion for the performing arts.

After their breakthrough roles, Madhubala continued to work in Indian cinema, while Marilyn’s career expanded globally, making her an international sensation in Hollywood.

The differing trajectories highlight their unique impacts on the cinematic landscape in their respective regions.

A Shared Desire for Control

From Delhi to Hollywood_ The Resonance of Madhubala & Marilyn Monroe - 4When Madhubala was active in the film industry, it was relatively uncommon for women, especially actors, to have their own production companies.

The film industry, both in Hollywood and Bollywood, was predominantly male-dominated, and women often faced challenges in taking on roles beyond acting.

Madhubala’s film production company, Madhubala Productions, was founded in 1969.

Madhubala Productions was established with the intention of Madhubala venturing into film production, which would have allowed her to take on a more active role in shaping and contributing to the filmmaking process.

However, due to her untimely death on February 23, 1969, the production company did not have the opportunity to undertake any film projects.

As a result, Madhubala Productions did not produce any films or have an active role in the Indian film industry.

The establishment of the production company reflected her aspirations to extend her influence in the film industry and explore new avenues in her career.

Similarly, in 1955, Marilyn Monroe embarked on a bold career move by establishing Marilyn Monroe Productions.

This intentional move sought to empower Monroe by providing her with increased control over her career path and the chance to delve into a variety of roles, freeing her from the limitations of conventional studio contracts.

Collaborating with photographer Milton Greene, Monroe’s production company marked a deviation from the standard Hollywood studio system.

Marilyn Monroe Productions allowed her to actively participate in the filmmaking process, allowing her to break away from the constricting frameworks imposed by major studios.

Despite undertaking only one film, The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), starring alongside Sir Laurence Olivier, the company left a notable impact.

Although Monroe’s pursuit of greater autonomy faced challenges and produced limited success, Marilyn Monroe Productions marked her quest for independence within the highly regulated studio environment of the time.

The end of Marilyn Monroe Productions resulted from a combination of factors.

Despite Monroe’s aspirations for career control, the company encountered challenges in producing additional projects.

Monroe’s return to collaborating with major studios shifted her focus away from maintaining an independent production company.

The demanding nature of the entertainment industry, coupled with the difficulties of managing a production company, likely contributed to the decision to discontinue Marilyn Monroe Productions.

While the venture marked a significant step towards autonomy for Monroe, practical challenges and the evolving landscape of her career led to the discontinuation of the production company.

The establishment of their own production companies reveals aspects of Madhubala and Marilyn Monroe as individuals with a strong desire for autonomy.

Madhubala’s initiative to create Madhubala Productions in 1969 showcases her aspiration to extend her influence in the film industry.

It reflects her eagerness to take on a more active role in shaping and contributing to the filmmaking process.

In both cases, the endeavours reveal a shared trait of resilience and a willingness to challenge the status quo.

Madhubala and Marilyn Monroe, despite facing different challenges in their respective industries, sought to carve out spaces for themselves where they could exert greater control over their artistic contributions.

These decisions provide insights into their personalities as forward-thinking, ambitious individuals who were not content with traditional roles assigned to women in the entertainment industry.

Bombay Chic to Hollywood Glam

From Delhi to Hollywood_ The Resonance of Madhubala & Marilyn Monroe - 5Madhubala rose to prominence as one of India’s most celebrated film stars from the late 1940s to the early 1960s.

In 1951, she was photographed by James Burke for a feature in the American magazine “Life”, which hailed her as the biggest star in the Indian film industry at that time.

Her fame extended far beyond the borders of India; Hollywood director Frank Capra even extended an offer (declined by her father) for her to venture into Hollywood.

In August 1952, David Cort of Theatre Arts Magazine declared her as “the biggest star in the world—and she’s not in the Beverly Hills.”

Cort estimated her fan base in India and Pakistan to be equivalent to the combined population of the contemporary United States and Western Europe.

He also highlighted her popularity in countries like Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, East Africa and Greece.

Madhubala’s fashion sense was truly ahead of its time, making bold statements that continue to influence trends today.

Embracing off-shoulder dresses in the 1940s, she transformed this daring style into a timeless fashion statement, showcasing her grace and elegance.

Her ability to carry plunging necklines with sophistication solidified her as a trendsetter.

An American magazine in the 1950s hailed her as the world’s biggest star, emphasising her global appeal while ruling the hearts of Indian audiences.

In an era dominated by actresses in traditional saris and suits, Madhubala stood out by rocking hip-wide trousers and chequered shirts, effortlessly embracing a fusion of Western and Indian fashion.

Madhubala’s iconic looks included simple yet striking saris, demonstrating that elegance lies in subtlety.

Her influence on fashion extended to the trend of buxom blouses, a style she pioneered with both saris and skirts.

This trend, revived in contemporary fashion, attests to her enduring impact.

In an era dominated by straight and curly hairstyles, Madhubala made waves with her unruly and wavy mane, popularising the ‘out-of-bed look’ that remains celebrated for its sexy appeal.

The timeless Anarkali suits, named after the iconic character, portrayed by Madhubala, remain a lasting fashion favourite.

The heavy, long kurtas adorned with intricate handwork and zari continue to shape industry trends, showcasing Madhubala’s lasting influence on Indian fashion.

In the words of an American magazine, Madhubala’s fashion legacy transcends borders, proving that her style, like her stardom, knows no geographical bounds.

Equally, Marilyn Monroe was a fashion icon known for her glamorous and timeless style.

One of her most famous looks was the white halter-neck dress in the movie The Seven Year Itch (1955), where the dress famously billowed up as she stood over a subway grate.

Monroe’s fashion sense also included figure-hugging dresses with sweetheart necklines, emphasising her feminine curves and epitomising Hollywood allure.

Off-screen, she often chose tailored outfits, high-waisted pants, and form-fitting tops, showcasing a casual yet sophisticated style.

Her signature blonde curls, red lipstick, and beauty marks contributed to her iconic image.

Monroe’s impact on fashion remains influential, inspiring designers and fashion enthusiasts alike with her classic elegance and a touch of daring.

Monroe was known to say: “Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.”

Marilyn Monroe’s impact on fashion endures today, with her timeless style continuing to inspire designers, celebrities, and fashion enthusiasts.

Her iconic looks, such as the white halter-neck dress from The Seven Year Itch and figure-hugging dresses, remain references in contemporary fashion.

Monroe’s emphasis on embracing femininity and confidence has influenced the ongoing celebration of diverse body types and beauty standards.

Her signature blonde curls, red lipstick, and glamorous aesthetic continue to be celebrated and recreated in modern beauty and fashion trends.

Monroe’s legacy extends beyond her time, as her enduring influence is evident in the ongoing fascination with her style and the perpetual relevance of her fashion choices.

Both Madhubala and Monroe’s fashion legacies transcend geographical bounds, continuing to inspire designers, celebrities, and fashion enthusiasts today.

Madhubala’s fusion of elegance and boldness in her wardrobe and Monroe’s timeless Hollywood glamour contribute to the ongoing celebration of diverse styles and beauty standards.

Showcasing the everlasting impact of these two iconic actresses on the world of fashion.

Dilip, Madhubala, and Kishore

From Delhi to Hollywood_ The Resonance of Madhubala & Marilyn Monroe - 6Dilip Kumar and Madhubala’s professional collaboration began on the sets of the 1951 film Tarana.

Their initial meeting sparked a connection that extended beyond the screen.

In his book, ‘Dilip Kumar: The Substance and the Shadow’, he states that they had viewers admiring both their pairings in Tarana and their working relationship was “warm and cordial.”

“She, as I said earlier, was very sprightly and vivacious, and, as such, she could draw me out of my shyness and reticence effortlessly.”

“She filled a void that was crying out to be filled – not by an intellectually sharp woman but a spirited woman whose liveliness and charm were the ideal panacea for the wound that was taking its own time to heal.”

Dilip Kumar and Madhubala worked together in several films, including Sangdil (1952) and Amar (1954), where they portrayed characters in love stories.

However, it was the historic Mughal-e-Azam (1960) that marked a significant peak in their collaboration.

In his biography, he wrote:

“The announcement of our pairing in Mughal-e-Azam made sensational news in the early 1950s because of the rumours about our emotional involvement.

“In fact, K Asif was ecstatic with the wide publicity and trade enquiries he got from the announcement.”

Despite rumoured personal tensions, their on-screen performances as Prince Salim and Anarkali in this epic film showcased remarkable chemistry.

The extensive shooting duration of Mughal-e-Azam, attributed to its expansive sets and intricate production design, brought about significant changes in the dynamic between the lead pair.

By the time they filmed the iconic feather scene, Dilip Kumar and Madhubala had reached a point where they “had completely stopped even greeting each other.”

Despite this, the scene has endured as one of the most romantic moments in the history of Hindi cinema.

The collaboration between Dilip Kumar and Madhubala took an unexpected turn during the production of BR Chopra’s Naya Daur (1957).

A dispute arose when Madhubala was replaced by actress Vyjayanthimala, leading to discontent on the part of Madhubala’s father, Ataullah Khan, who managed her career.

The disagreement centred around the filming location; Chopra envisioned a 40-day shoot in Bhopal, while Khan insisted on Bombay studios.

Despite Chopra’s attempts to convince Khan, the impasse resulted in Madhubala being replaced, prompting Chopra to file a legal case.

He accused Madhubala and her father of cheating, citing her acceptance of a Rs. 30,000 advance and subsequent disinterest in completing the film.

The producer initially requested Khan to return the money, but when unsuccessful, he pursued legal action against Madhubala.

During the filming of Naya Daur in Gwalior, there were reports of hooliganism on another film set being shot simultaneously.

Incidents of intrusion and misbehaviour towards women on that set prompted Khan to decide against allowing Madhubala to continue working in Naya Daur.

The legal proceedings surrounding the court case persisted for four months.

In an unexpected turn, Dilip Kumar sided with Chopra during the trial, opposing Madhubala’s father.

This divergence of opinions marked the beginning of a rift between Madhubala and Dilip Kumar, signalling the initiation of the end of their relationship.

Meanwhile, Naya Daur, now featuring Vyjayanthimala as the female lead, was released and achieved significant success.

Madhubala’s sister, Madhur Bhushan stated: “Had the court case not happened, Madhubala would have probably got married to Dilip Kumar.

“She had urged Dilip saab to apologise to our father.

“She had tried to convince him to let bygones be bygones, just say one sorry for the sake of their relationship. Dilip saab refused.”

Bhushan added: “She (Madhubala) would cry and tell Dilip saab, ‘Dekho humari zindagi barbaad ho jayegi (our lives will fall apart)’ and Dilip saab would ask her, ‘Tum itni zidd kyun kar rahi ho? (why are you forcing me so much)?’”

Madhur mentioned that Madhubala preferred not to have the press speculate that Dilip Kumar rescued her from a difficult relationship with her father or that she left her father to be with him.

In his book, Dilip countered the assertions that Madhubala’s father opposed their union.

According to Dilip, the stumbling block was his reluctance to turn their proposed marriage into a business venture.

At that juncture, Ataullah Khan owned his film production company and wished for both Madhubala and Dilip to collaborate under his banner—an arrangement that Dilip found unacceptable.

He mentioned in his book: “I sensed Asif was seriously trying to mend the situation for her when matters began to sour between us, thanks to her father’s attempt to make the proposed marriage a business venture.

“The outcome was that halfway through the production of Mughal-e-Azam, we were not even talking to each other.”

“The classic scene with the feather coming between our lips, which set a million imaginations on fire, was shot when we had completely stopped even greeting each other.

“It should… go down in the annals of film history as a tribute to the artistry of two professionally committed actors who kept aside personal differences and fulfilled the director’s vision…”

Dilip Kumar reflected on a conversation where he explained his independent approach to project selection, even within his own production house.

This seemed to unsettle Madhubala’s father, Ataullah Khan, who successfully convinced Madhubala that Dilip Kumar was being rude and presumptuous.

Despite Madhubala’s attempts to mediate and assure Dilip Kumar that things would be sorted out after marriage, he resisted surrendering to Ataullah Khan’s dictates and strategies.

The miscommunication and differences in their professional approaches, exacerbated by Madhubala’s father’s influence, contributed to the complexities in their relationship.

Madhubala’s younger sister, Madhur Bhushan, shared insights into their phone conversations with Filmfare.

According to her, Dilip Kumar would suggest Madhubala leave her father, while Madhubala, in turn, insisted that Dilip apologise to her father.

Madhur Bhushan recounted their exchanges, stating:

“They had conversations on the phone trying to patch up.

“He kept saying, ‘Leave your father and I’ll marry you’.

“She’d say, ‘I’ll marry you but just come home, say sorry, and hug him’.”

By the late 1950’s their relationship was over.

The meeting of Kishore Kumar and Madhubala occurred during the filming of the movie Dhake Ki Malmal in the early 1950s.

Their professional collaboration soon transformed into a personal connection, leading to their marriage in 1960.

However, their union faced challenges, and rumours circulated about Madhubala’s motivation for marrying Kishore Kumar, including speculation that it was influenced by financial considerations and her strained relationship with Dilip Kumar.

Madhubala’s sister sheds light on the dynamics surrounding Madhubala’s marriage to Kishore Kumar, dispelling rumours about Ataullah Khan’s opposition.

According to her, Madhubala’s health was a significant factor in their decision to tie the knot.

Madhubala had been diagnosed with a murmur of the heart, leading doctors in Bombay to recommend a visit to London for a proper diagnosis.

During this challenging time, Ataullah Khan, Madhubala’s father, suggested they marry after the London visit and diagnosis, but Kishore Kumar and Madhubala insisted on getting married first.

Addressing a prevalent rumour, Madhubala’s sister clarifies that Kishore Kumar did not convert to Islam to marry Madhubala.

Contrary to speculation, he remained a Hindu until his passing, and none of the husbands who married into their family changed their religion.

When Madhubala and Kishore Kumar returned from London, Kishore Kumar conveyed the challenging news to her parents — that Madhubala had a hole in her heart (congenital heart defect) with no available operation.

The revelation was devastating, and her mother fainted.

Amid tears and despair among the sisters, Kishore Kumar disclosed another heart-wrenching detail: Madhubala was expected to live for only two more years.

Despite the grim diagnosis, her father showed remarkable strength and offered courage to all his daughters.

Even in her fragile condition, Madhubala displayed resilience.

She assured her father: “Don’t listen to these doctors. I am perfectly healthy. Sign new films, allocate my dates, and I’ll start shooting in three days.”

Kishore Kumar, concerned, urged Madhubala not to take it lightly and suggested resting for at least six months, but those six months stretched into nine agonising years.

Madhubala, bedridden for the entire duration, and the entire family were immersed in sorrow, shedding tears day in and day out.

When learning about Madhubala’s heart condition and the limited time she had left, Kishore Kumar made the difficult decision to take her to her father’s home.

Recognising the challenges of caring for her while being occupied with his professional commitments, Kishore Kumar felt it was best for Madhubala to be with her family.

Madhur Bhushan commented on this, adding that:

“He said that she was sick and needed care while he had to travel, work, sing and hence wouldn’t be able to give her time.”

He said: “I tried my best, I took her to London. But the doctors have said she won’t survive. What’s my fault?’”

Madhur recalled that, at a critical stage in her life, Madhubala only wanted her husband Kishore Kumar by her side for support.

It was acknowledged that Kishore Kumar’s decisions were not necessarily in the wrong.

Madhubala, advised by doctors that she couldn’t engage in intimate relations or bear children due to her health condition, still sought emotional support.

Despite the medical constraints, she insisted on being with Kishore Kumar.

Consequently, he purchased a flat at Quarter Deck, Carter Road, where they resided for a period.

However, Madhubala often found herself alone, and the adverse effects of the sea breeze on her health made her condition worse.

Due to Kishore Kumar’s work commitments, Madhubala frequently found herself alone at home, leaving her with limited options.

The only viable choice she had was to relocate to her paternal house, intensifying her yearning for her husband.

Reflecting on those moments, Madhur remarked:

“Often Kishore Bhaiyya’s phone was disconnected. He’d visit her once in two to three months.

“He’d say, ‘If I come, you’ll cry and it will not be good for your heart. You’ll go into depression. You should rest’.

“She was young, jealousy was natural. Perhaps, a feeling of being abandoned killed her.

“Maybe he wanted to detach himself from her so that the final separation wouldn’t hurt.

“But he never abused her as was reported. He bore her medical expenses.”

Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller

From Delhi to Hollywood_ The Resonance of Madhubala & Marilyn Monroe - 7Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio’s love story, a captivating tale rooted in the glamour of Hollywood and the grit of the baseball field, began in 1952.

The New York Post writes: “When they met in 1952, Joe DiMaggio had just ended his career as a legendary New York Yankee; Marilyn Monroe, however, was at the beginning of hers, on the verge of becoming an international superstar.”

The iconic actress and the legendary New York Yankees centre fielder first crossed paths in a Los Angeles restaurant.

DiMaggio was immediately smitten by Monroe’s beauty, and their connection grew rapidly.

Their whirlwind romance led to a high-profile marriage on January 14, 1954.

The wedding was a glamorous affair, attended by Hollywood celebrities, but it marked the start of a tumultuous relationship.

Despite their magnetic attraction, the couple faced challenges, with allegations of abuse surfacing.

Monroe’s professional commitments and DiMaggio’s jealousy intensified the strain on their marriage.

The legendary actress found solace in her work, while DiMaggio struggled with the Hollywood lifestyle.

Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio’s love story took a darker turn marked by instances of alleged domestic violence.

The infamous incident occurred after the iconic scene in The Seven Year Itch, where Monroe’s white dress billowed as she stood over a subway grate.

Late one night in mid-September 1954, the scene was filmed, and director Billy Wilder extended invitations to members of the press and the public to witness the shoot, aiming to generate excitement and anticipation for the upcoming movie.

The New York Times writes: “Hundreds of gawkers, almost all men… catcalled and yelled things like, ‘Higher! Higher!’ as Ms. Monroe’s dress blew up over her head.

“For two hours, the men watched from surrounding buildings and the street.”

DiMaggio, staying at the nearby St. Regis Hotel, was patiently awaiting her arrival.

Initially not intending to visit the set that night, columnist Walter Winchell reportedly convinced him to witness the commotion.

Director, Billy Wilder, as mentioned in his biography ‘Nobody’s Perfect,’ remarked that DiMaggio didn’t appreciate what he saw or what others were witnessing that evening.

The following morning, Marilyn’s hairdresser, Gladys Whitten, and the “unit wardrobe mistress did not hear the rumpus during the night” but Marilyn told them that she had screamed and yelled for them.

Whitten recalled: “Her husband had got very, very mad with her, and he beat her up a little bit… it was on her shoulders, but we covered it up, you know… a little makeup and she went ahead and worked.”

Marilyn’s friend, Amy Greene, also stated that: “Marilyn started to get undressed.

“She forgot I was sitting there and that she was taking off her blouse… her back was black and blue – I couldn’t believe it.”

The beating Monroe allegedly endured remained shrouded in secrecy.

David Thomson wrote: “DiMaggio was Italian, conservative, and grim-minded.

“He had just retired, and when athletes retire, they hit depression.

“Marilyn was becoming more famous every minute. Her crowds dwarfed his.”

The success of the film was overshadowed by the turbulence in her personal life.

Summer writes: “For the proud DiMaggio, Marilyn brought as much humiliation as bliss.

“He hated the foolish publicity and detested the way Marilyn flaunted her body in public.

“He had refused to attend the Photoplay awards ceremonies, where she made an exhibition of herself; it was not the way Italian women behaved.”

The toll of such abuse undoubtedly contributed to the strain on their marriage.

Despite the tumult, the public remained largely unaware of the darker side of Monroe and DiMaggio’s relationship.

The dichotomy between Monroe’s public allure and private turmoil deepened, revealing the stark reality of her struggles.

Even amid the glamour of Hollywood, the cracks in their marriage widened.

The tragic narrative of their relationship serves as a stark reminder of the often-hidden complexities within the lives of even the most iconic figures in history.

The marriage may have ended, but the bond between Monroe and DiMaggio endured. Despite their separation, DiMaggio remained a supportive figure in Monroe’s life.

In the years following Monroe’s tragic death in 1962, DiMaggio’s devotion remained unwavering.

He arranged for fresh roses to be placed on her grave multiple times a week until his passing in 1999.

Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio’s love story is now part of Hollywood history.

In the early 1950s, actress Marilyn Monroe and playwright Arthur Miller crossed paths, kicking off a dynamic and interesting relationship.

They instantly connected, going beyond the glitz of Hollywood and the sophistication of Broadway. Miller saw past Monroe’s iconic image.

Recognising her as a kindred spirit immersed in both sensuality and life-loving vibrancy yet enveloped by mysterious darkness and tragedy.

Reflecting on their first encounter, Miller shared: “The sight of her was something like pain, and I knew that I must flee or walk into a doom beyond all knowing.”

“With all her radiance, she was surrounded by a darkness that perplexed me.”

Monroe, equally captivated, likened the experience of meeting Miller to colliding with a tree, stating:

“It was like running into a tree. You know, like a cool drink when you’ve had a fever.”

Despite their profound bond, the clash between their lifestyles and aspirations became increasingly apparent.

Monroe faced the pressure to conform to Miller’s expectations of a “good” wife, and he publicly articulated his vision, stating that she would only make one film every 18 months.

With the rest of her time devoted to being his wife—a statement encapsulated with:

“She will be my wife. That’s a full-time job.”

Their differing expectations led to disagreements. The newly married couple went to England to film The Prince and the Showgirl, but the production faced many challenges.

Monroe clashed with star and director Laurence Olivier, felt criticised by Miller’s friends, and stumbled upon Miller’s notebook, revealing his doubts about their marriage and his occasional embarrassment about her.

While the couple aspired to start a family, they faced challenges with pregnancies, including an ectopic pregnancy and a miscarriage during the filming of Some Like It Hot in 1959.

Miller recognised Monroe’s psychological struggles, noting:

“Her struggle was a psychological struggle against abandonment, against abuse; in our terms today, she would have been thought of as an abused child.”

Monroe’s struggles with addiction, stemming from past anxieties and amplified by relentless media scrutiny and personal insecurities, led to hospitalisation due to a barbiturate overdose in 1957.

The fractures in their marriage intensified during the production of The Misfits in 1961.

Miller, who wrote the screenplay, grew close to photographer Inge Morath, leading to strained relations with Monroe.

The physically demanding shoot in the Nevada desert, coupled with the death of co-star Clark Gable, exacerbated the challenges.

In the aftermath, Miller acknowledged Monroe’s valiant struggle, stating:

“The great thing about her for me was that the struggle was valiant.

“She was a very courageous human being, and she didn’t give up, really, I guess, until the end.”

The culmination of their marital struggles led to a divorce in 1961, less than five years after their marriage.

The Misfits became Monroe’s last completed film, and her life spiralled into erratic behaviour, alcohol, and drug abuse.

Reflecting on their tumultuous relationship, Miller later wrote in his autobiography ‘Timebends’ that their marriage was “the best of times, the worst of times.”

In the aftermath, Miller married Inge Morath a month later, encapsulating the complex legacy of their union.

Both relationships experienced discord due to personal and societal pressures, leading to legal disputes and eventual separations.

Madhubala’s Final Days

From Delhi to Hollywood_ The Resonance of Madhubala & Marilyn Monroe - 8Madhubala experienced a prolonged period of confinement to her bed, marked by a significant decline in her weight.

Despite her physical limitations, she found solace in the beauty of Urdu poetry, immersing herself in the verses of poets like Mirza Ghalib and Daagh Dehlvi.

Her reclusive lifestyle led her to embrace the comfort of watching her films, with a particular fondness for classics such as Mughal-e-Azam, using a home projector for this purpose.

During this period, her interactions within the film industry became rare, limited to meetings with only a select few, including Geeta Dutt and Waheeda Rehman.

The challenges posed by her health condition necessitated frequent exchange transfusions, becoming a regular part of her routine, reflecting the profound difficulties she faced in her final years.

In her last nine years, Madhubala’s health took a severe toll, and she became confined to her bed, reduced to a state of mere bones and skin.

Madhur Bhushan, her sister, recounts the painful ordeal, sharing: “Aapa was reduced to a skeleton.

“People wanted to visit her, but she didn’t want anyone to see her.

“She’d look at herself in the mirror and say, ‘Dekho main kya seh kya hogayee!’ If people comment on my looks, I’ll cry all the more.”

Madhur goes on to describe the challenging health conditions Madhubala faced during this period, detailing:

“She used to throw up blood from her mouth, her nose. Her body was making extra blood.”

Despite the physical challenges, Madhubala remained remarkably independent.

Madhur emphasises: “Aapa never took help from us. She’d take her bath, and have food on her own.

“An oxygen cylinder was kept by her side as she felt breathless. She’d say, ‘Don’t waste money on me. I won’t survive. There’s no one else to earn.’”

In a heart-wrenching revelation, Madhur disclosed that Madhubala threw up blood from her mouth and nose due to her medical condition.

Her body was producing extra blood, and she suffered from pulmonary pressure in her lungs, causing persistent coughing.

Despite these challenges, Madhubala’s determined willpower allowed her to endure for nine years, surpassing the initial prognosis of only two years to live.

During this difficult period, Dilip Kumar visited her at Breach Candy Hospital. At that time, he was not yet married to Saira Banu.

Madhur recounted the emotional encounter: “Aapa asked him, ‘If I get well, will you work with me?’

“He said, ‘Of course! And you will get well. Don’t give up on life.’”

However, destiny had different plans. A few months later, Dilip Kumar married Saira Banu, leaving Madhubala in tears.

Despite her sadness, Madhubala acknowledged the situation, saying: “Unke naseeb mein woh (Saira Banu) thi, main nahin.”

“He’s got married to a very pretty girl. She’s so devoted. I’m very happy for him.’

She adds: “I remember when Bhaijan married Saira Banu, Apa was sad because she loved him.”

During Madhubala’s final days, Madhur, then 19, was suffering from chickenpox and couldn’t be by her side.

When the doctor signalled her deteriorating health, Madhur rushed to see her.

Madhubala passed away on February 23, 1969, at 9:30 am, only nine days after turning 36.

Dilip Kumar, upon hearing the news, flew down from Madras to attend her funeral.

Although he couldn’t make it in time to bid a final farewell, his gesture of paying respects and sending food to the family for three days reflected the enduring bond they shared.

Madhubala was laid to rest at the Juhu Muslim Cemetery in Santacruz, Bombay, alongside her diary.

Her burial site features a marble tomb adorned with inscriptions, including aayats from the Quran and dedicated verses.

Madhur reflects on the circumstances: “She was only 36 to my 19.

“Though Bhaijan (Dilip Kumar) never visited her when she was unwell, he flew down from Madras to pay his last respects at the kabrastan (cemetery).

“Food was sent from his home to ours for three days (as is the custom).”

Madhur also reveals the subsequent challenges faced by Madhubala’s family, with her father Ataullah Khan succumbing to a series of heart attacks in 1975.

Ayesha Begum, Madhubala’s mother, battled tuberculosis for 18 years.

The tomb of the legendary actress faced an unfortunate fate, being demolished in 2010 to accommodate new burials, among other esteemed figures like Mohammed Rafi and Naushad.

The trustees claimed adherence to Islamic law necessitated this action, citing a shortage of space in the expanding Muslim-populated area.

The process, initiated five years ago, involved dismantling tombstones without family consent, disposing of remains, and levelling the ground for additional burials.

Families expressed outrage at the lack of consultation, highlighting the craftsmanship and significance of the memorials.

Trust authorities argued that Islamic law prohibits such memorials and emphasises the equal treatment of all buried individuals.

Marilyn Monroe’s Final Days

From Delhi to Hollywood_ The Resonance of Madhubala & Marilyn Monroe - 9Marilyn Monroe’s last days were marked by a combination of personal and professional challenges.

In the weeks leading up to her death in August 1962, Monroe faced a series of difficulties that reflected the complexities of her life.

Professionally, Monroe encountered significant struggles.

She had been fired from the film Something’s Got to Give due to chronic absenteeism and other issues.

The production delays and her publicised struggles added to the pressures she was experiencing, creating uncertainty about her future in the film industry.

On a personal level, Monroe’s life was chaotic. Her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller had ended in early 1961, leaving her with a sense of loneliness and emotional turmoil.

Reports suggested that she was battling depression and anxiety, contributing to the challenges she faced in both her personal and professional life.

Health issues further intensified Monroe’s difficulties.

She had a history of health problems, including endometriosis, which caused chronic pain.

Additionally, she was reportedly dealing with substance abuse issues, specifically the use of barbiturates.

Despite her challenges, Monroe was determined to make a comeback in her career.

She was negotiating new film projects and striving to regain her status as a leading actress in Hollywood.

The unfinished film Something’s Got to Give added stress to Monroe’s life, as the production was marred by her absences, leading to her dismissal, and leaving her professional future uncertain.

In the days leading up to her death, Monroe was in communication with friends, associates, and physicians.

Reports suggest that she had seen her psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson, on the day of her death.

On August 5, 1962, Monroe was found dead in her Los Angeles home, with the official cause of death listed as a probable suicide by drug overdose.

The actress was found dead at her Los Angeles home, with an empty bottle of barbiturates, commonly used as sleeping pills, nearby.

The official cause of death was ruled as probable suicide due to an overdose.

Monroe’s passing at the age of 36 shocked the world, marking the end of a glamorous era and the beginning of enduring conspiracy theories.

Monroe’s death ignited a multitude of speculations and conspiracy theories, making her the subject of the first celebrity conspiracy death.

Various theories emerged, ranging from suspicions of foul play to the involvement of powerful figures in politics and entertainment.

Given Monroe’s alleged relationships with prominent figures, including President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy, rumours of conspiracy and cover-ups gained traction.

President Kennedy’s association with Monroe fuelled speculation about the circumstances surrounding her demise.

The actress was rumoured to have had affairs with both John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, and theories suggesting that Monroe possessed sensitive information became widespread.

Some conspiracy theorists argued that Monroe’s death was not a suicide but rather a result of efforts to silence her and prevent the exposure of certain secrets.

The mysterious circumstances surrounding Monroe’s death also led to investigations and inquiries.

Despite the official ruling of suicide, numerous inconsistencies and unanswered questions persisted, contributing to the enduring allure of conspiracy theories.

The uncertainty and secrecy shrouding Monroe’s final moments have fuelled decades of fascination and debate among fans, researchers, and conspiracy enthusiasts.

Monroe’s legacy extends beyond her cinematic achievements, with her tragic death adding layers of complexity to her iconic status.

The circumstances surrounding Marilyn Monroe’s demise, whether they are the outcome of personal struggles, external pressures, or complex conspiracies, persist in gripping the public’s imagination.

Marilyn Monroe found her final resting place at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Her crypt is situated in the Corridor of Memories within the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park.

Both actresses endured prolonged health struggles that led to a drastic decline in their physical well-being.

Madhubala’s confinement to her bed for nine years and Marilyn Monroe’s battles with chronic pain, substance abuse, and emotional turmoil highlight the profound impact these health challenges had on their lives.

Additionally, both women faced complexities in their relationships, with Madhubala’s poignant connection with Dilip Kumar and Monroe’s rumoured affairs with influential figures like President John F. Kennedy.

Ultimately, their untimely demise at the age of 36 tragically cut short the potential of what their lives could have become.

Despite this, they have both secured their positions as iconic figures in the realms of Bollywood and Hollywood.

Marilyn’s death continues to be a subject of enduring fascination, giving rise to conspiracy theories, and leaving an everlasting sense of enigma in the hearts of their admirers.

The Lasting Legacy

From Delhi to Hollywood_ The Resonance of Madhubala & Marilyn Monroe - 10Madhubala’s impact on the Indian film industry today is profound and far-reaching.

Despite her relatively short career, her influence continues to shape the industry in various ways.

Her performances in timeless classics like Mughal-e-Azam and Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi are celebrated, and her legacy as one of the greatest actresses of Indian cinema endures.

Directors, actors, and filmmakers often cite her work as a source of inspiration, recognising the depth and versatility she brought to her roles.

In terms of perception, Madhubala is revered not just for her acting prowess but also for her timeless beauty and elegance.

She is often remembered as “The Venus of Indian Cinema” due to her ethereal and captivating presence on-screen and called “The Beauty with Tragedy”.

Her iconic looks, particularly the portrayal of Anarkali in Mughal-e-Azam, have become symbolic in Indian cultural imagery.

The image of Madhubala in the feather sequence is etched in the collective memory of film enthusiasts and continues to be an iconic representation of beauty and grace.

Madhubala’s impact goes beyond the realm of cinema.

Her contributions to fashion, marked by bold choices that were ahead of their time, still influence contemporary trends.

The fusion of Western and Indian fashion elements in her style remains a reference point for designers, and her ability to make unconventional choices has left a mark on the perception of beauty in the industry.

In essence, Madhubala is remembered not just as a cinematic legend but as a cultural and style icon whose influence persists in the ongoing narrative of Indian cinema.

Her legacy is a testament to the enduring power of her talent and the timeless allure she brought to the silver screen.

Even though Madhubala showcased her versatility by appearing in various film genres throughout her career, it was her roles in comedies that truly stood out.

Her performance in Mr. & Mrs. 55 (1955) earned her recognition for her impeccable comic timing, described by Iqbal Masud of India Today as “a marvellous piece of sexy-comic acting.”

Despite the success and fame, she garnered, Madhubala faced the unfortunate reality of not receiving any acting awards or critical acclaim.

Critics suggested that her perceived beauty became a barrier to being taken seriously as an actress.

Expressing her desire to take on more dramatic and author-backed roles, Madhubala often found herself discouraged.

According to Dilip Kumar, the audience “missed out on a lot of her other attributes.”

Biographer Sushila Kumari observed that “people were so mesmerised by her beauty that they never cared for the actress,” while Shammi Kapoor considered her “a highly underrated actress in spite of performing consistently well in her films.”

Madhubala’s sister, Madhur Bhushan, expressed her dissatisfaction with the Hindi film industry, actors, and filmmakers in an assertive interview, highlighting the lack of recognition given to the late legend.

Bhushan criticised the industry for not organising a single event in Madhubala’s memory and questioned the absence of a posthumous award from organisations.

Despite being hailed as the most beautiful Indian actress even today, Madhubala’s contributions have not received the acknowledgement they deserve.

She states: “Though she is remembered for her classic beauty, there was so much more to her than her beauty.

“I want to do something for her before I die. She continues to rule millions of hearts and her story needs to be told.”

In the interview, Bhushan confronted the industry, stating:

“It’s been 53 years since my sister passed away, why couldn’t anyone hold one event in her memory?”

“Why couldn’t one organisation give her a posthumous award?

“Why has there been no recognition awarded to her? Why wasn’t she ever considered for a Bharat Ratna?”

She further emphasised the integral role Bollywood played in Madhubala’s career but stressed the need for honouring her legacy.

Bhushan expressed disappointment in the industry’s failure to celebrate Madhubala’s contributions, contrasting it with the tributes offered to other legends.

She questioned the absence of similar gestures for Madhubala and affirmed her commitment to creating a film that provides the recognition and honours her sister deserves.

In a 22-year career that spanned over 70 films, she emerged as a trailblazer, breaking free from conventions.

Madhubala’s legacy is etched not only in her acting prowess but also in her influence on fashion.

Madhubala’s refusal to conform to social norms, her avoidance of the superficial social scene, and her preference for a genuine and meaningful existence further defined her.

While labelled a recluse by some, those close to her recognised her sincerity, maturity, and lack of pettiness.

Despite controversies and a tumultuous relationship with the press, Madhubala maintained professionalism and discipline on set.

Her dedication to her craft showcased in films like Mughal-e-Azam, solidified her position as a legendary actress whose performances continue to be revered.

Madhubala’s legacy extends far beyond her time, with modern-day celebrities and fans alike acknowledging her enduring influence.

Her impact on fashion, cinema, and the cultural landscape persists, making her an everlasting icon.

In the words of Rohit Sharma, a research analyst, Madhubala’s relatability across generations lies in her portrayal of insecurities, her embodiment of an era celebrating curvy bodies, and her timeless excellence as an actress.

Madhubala stands as the most iconic silver screen goddess, a symbol of beauty, talent, and an unwavering commitment to her craft that continues to inspire and captivate.

Marilyn Monroe’s legacy transcends the silver screen, leaving a mark on popular culture that endures to this day.

Her impact on the entertainment industry and broader society is nothing short of iconic.

As a legendary actress, her roles in films like The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot showcased her unparalleled talent and cemented her status as a Hollywood icon.

Monroe’s influence extends far beyond her acting prowess; she redefined beauty standards and challenged societal norms.

Her glamorous and timeless style, epitomised by the iconic white halter-neck dress, continues to inspire designers, celebrities, and fashion enthusiasts.

Monroe’s emphasis on embracing femininity and confidence remains relevant, contributing to the ongoing celebration of diverse body types.

Beyond the screen and the runway, Monroe’s cultural impact is evident in various forms of art, literature, and music.

Her image and persona are frequently referenced and celebrated, making her a symbol of timeless allure and charisma.

In contemporary society, Monroe’s image and quotes are often used to convey a sense of glamour, sophistication, and independence.

Her enduring popularity is reflected in the countless references to her in modern media and the continuous fascination with her life.

Marilyn Monroe is undeniably recognised as one of the most enduring sex symbols in the history of cinema, often grappling with the dichotomy of her public persona and private self.

While she effortlessly embodied sensuality and glamour on screen, off-screen, Monroe expressed a nuanced perspective on her status as a sex symbol.

she articulated her discontent with being reduced to, in her words, “a thing” rather than being acknowledged as a multifaceted individual:

“I never quite understood it — this sex symbol — I always thought symbols were those things you clash together!

“That’s the trouble, a sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing.

“But if I’m going to be a symbol of something I’d rather, have it sex than some other things they’ve got symbols of!”

Despite the allure of her iconic beauty, Monroe sought acknowledgement for her talent and intellect.

She stated: “I want to be an artist, not an erotic freak. I don’t want to be sold to the public as a celluloid aphrodisiac.”

This introspective stance adds depth to Monroe’s legacy, highlighting her quest for authenticity and a desire to be valued for her complete self.

Monroe’s tragic yet captivating story adds a layer of complexity to her legacy, contributing to the ongoing intrigue surrounding her life and career.

Marilyn Monroe’s impact on popular culture is immeasurable.

Her contributions to film, fashion, and societal perceptions have left an enduring legacy that continues to captivate and inspire.

Monroe’s timeless allure and the determined spirit she exuded have solidified her place as an enduring cultural icon.

Mamie Van Doren stated that Marilyn “was so vulnerable to the world, but what a sweet person she really was, lovable, compassionate—I have nothing but grace for Marilyn, and she should have been at least nominated for an Academy Award for Bus Stop.

“But in those days, they preferred to nominate the Bette Davis kind of stars.

“You know, talking about Marilyn Monroe is strange. To me, she’s a person; to most people, she’s an idea.”

Monroe, widely celebrated for her beauty and charisma, aspired to be acknowledged for her acting prowess beyond her physical allure.

In the sphere of acting, Monroe was a pioneering force, striving to gain recognition for her talent rather than being confined to the superficial aspects of her image.

Monroe’s legacy extends to her impactful contributions to artistry, particularly within the realm of film.

She redefined the archetype of the leading lady, injecting complexity and authenticity into her roles.

Through her performances, Monroe not only defied societal norms but also aimed to break free from the limiting stereotypes that often constrained actresses of her era.

She stands as a symbol of breaking moulds, urging the world to view her not solely as a captivating image but as an artist with substance.

Remembering Marilyn Monroe means honouring a woman who valued authenticity in an industry focused on looks.

Her impact extends beyond the silver screen, resonating in the realms of art and fashion, challenging the established norms of what a Hollywood star could represent.

Monroe’s legacy blends beauty with intellectual depth, making a lasting mark on our culture.

Madhubala and Marilyn Monroe share striking similarities in their profound impact on the film industry and cultural legacy.

Madhubala’s timeless performances resonate strongly today, serving as inspiration for filmmakers and actors alike.

Madhubala’s enduring beauty, particularly in roles like Anarkali, has become symbolic in Indian cultural imagery.

Her influence extends beyond cinema to the world of fashion, where her bold choices and fusion of Western and Indian elements continue to inspire contemporary trends.

Madhubala’s dedication to her craft and her ability to disrupt norms solidify her as a legendary actress.

Similarly, Marilyn Monroe’s legacy in Hollywood transcends acting, as she redefined beauty standards and challenged societal norms.

Monroe’s timeless style and emphasis on embracing femininity remain relevant, contributing to the celebration of diverse body types.

Both actresses strategically navigated the dynamics of their respective industries, leveraging their beauty for visibility while seeking recognition for their acting depth.

Madhubala’s sister, Madhur Bhushan, and Monroe’s contemporaries have voiced dissatisfaction with the industry’s failure to adequately celebrate their contributions.

Madhubala and Monroe stand as enduring icons, remembered for their talent, style, and unwavering commitment to their craft, leaving a lasting mark on culture.



Amir is a creative writing and screenwriting graduate passionate about storytelling through film, prose, and poetry. Enthusiast of art, music, photography, and genealogy. 'Stories shape us; we shape stories.'

Images courtesy of Pinterest.





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