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'I was really fond of Kumkum'

By SUBHASH K JHA
July 29, 2020 15:00 IST
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Veteran actor Kumkum, who featured in such Hindi movies like CID, Mr X in Bombay and Mother India, passed away on Tuesday, July 28. She was 86.

Her sister-in-law Shenaz told PTI that the actress, whose real name was Zaibunnissa, died at around 11.30 am at her home in Bandra, north west Mumbai, due to age-related issues.

The last rites took place at the Mazgaon cemetery in south Mumbai.

'I just got to know about the passing away of popular actor Kumkum,' Lata Mangeshkar tweeted. 'I'm really sad. May her soul rest in peace.'

Actor Jaaved Jafferi and Producer Naved Jafri, whose father veteran actor Jagdeep had featured in the Kabhi Aar, Kabhi Paar song with Kumkum, remembered her as well. Jagdeep passed away earlier this month.

Kumkum, Jaaved Jafferi said, was a close family friend. 'Another veteran passes on... Debuting in Aar Paar with the title song picturised on her, she went on to star in many films and breathed her last today. Innalillaahe wa innaelaihe raajeoon,' Javed added.

'I have known her since I was a kid,' Naved said, 'and she was family, a superb artist and a fantastic human being, innalillahe wa innailaihe raajeoon. Rest in peace Kumkum aunty.'

Kumkum hailed from Hussainabad in Sheikhpura district, Bihar.

Her memorable film appearances also include Kohinoor, Ujala, Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere and Naya Daur.

She starred in the first Bhojpuri film, Ganga Maiyya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo, in 1963.

She was discovered by actor-director Guru Dutt in the 1950s, who cast her in the Aar Paar song for an uncredited role. She later earned roles in Guru Dutt's Pyaasa and Mr & Mrs 55.

Kumkum was a rare female star of the classic era who did not shy away from playing supporting parts.

Even though she had hits like Mr X in Bombay and Shreeman Funtoosh as the leading lady, she went on to feature in small but pivotal roles in other hits like Mother India.

Her popularity, however, rests mostly on the songs that were picturised on her -- Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Re from Kohinoor (1960), Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar from Aar Paar (1954), Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan from 1956's CID and Reshmi Salwar Kurta Jaali Ka/em> from Naya Daur in 1957.

Her pairing with Kishore Kumar in songs like Khoobsurat Haseena from Mr X in Bombay, Ijazat Ho Toh from Haaye Mera Dil, Sultana Sultana from Shreeman Funtoosh and Machalti Hui from Ganga Ki Lahren remain popular till date.

Kumkum starred opposite Vinod Khanna in Dhamkee. The duet song Chand Kya Hai Roop Ka Darpan became popular.

She was paired opposite Pran in the hit comedy Ek Kuwara Ek Kuwari, directed by Prakash Mehra.

After her marriage to Sajjad Akbar Khan, Kumkum left the industry.

 

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'Kumkum was my first heroine. How can I forget her?'

Kumkum's death has saddened Dharmendra.

"Kumkum was my first heroine," the actors tells Subhash K Jha emotionally.

"She agreed to co-star with me in my first film, Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere in 1960, although she had already done big films like Naya Daur, Mr & Mrs 55, Mother India and Pyaasa."

Dharamji says he learnt a big lesson early in his career from Kumkum.

"Always be kind to newcomers. I can never forget how warm and kind Kumkum was to me. She made me feel at home, spoke about me and my family, showed an interest in my life, helped with my shots. I am forever indebted to her."

She played Dharmendra's sister in Ramanand Sagar's Aankhen in 1968 and went on to be paired opposite him as the lead in Sagar's Lalkar in 1972.

"In Aankhen, she played my sister. In Lalkaar, she was my heroine. It was many years since Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tera. Kumkum hadn't changed at all."

"We sat and reminisced about old times. Moving on is an essential part of life, but sharing memories with your past colleagues is even more important than moving on. When I met Kumkum, it was like old times. She invited me home for meals. We really enjoyed ourselves."

Dharamji gets emotional about the deaths this year.

"Iss saal pataa nahin kaun kaun jayega? (who knows how many people we will lose this year?) Every time I lose an old colleague, it is like a personal blow to me," he says.

"I was really fond of Kumkum. She had worked with great directors like Guru Dutt, Mehboob Khan, B R Chopra and Ramanand Sagar. She was a fantastic dancer and a lovely human being. She taught me the value of goodwill."

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Govinda was like a son to Kumkum

In her later years, Kumkum became a recluse.

But she maintained a close relationship with Govinda who was like a son to her. Govinda's mother Nirmala Devi was Kumkum's half-sister.

Her other connection with the film industry was film-maker Ashutosh Gowariker.

Gowariker lives in a bungalow once owned by Kumkum. It is still called Kumkum Villa.

Kumkum's daughter Andaleeb Khan played a small part in Gowariker's Jodhaa Akbar.

Additional inputs: PTI

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