There is no better tribute to Hindi cinema’s “tragedy queen”, Meena Kumari than the book titled “Meena Kumari- The Classic Biography”. This brilliant biography has been written by Indian print journalist par excellence, the late Vinod Mehta. The beauty of this book being, the manner in which the author has encapsulated the “tragedy” that always seemed to follow this brilliant actress.
What does this biography entail?
This brilliantly written biography deals with the life of yesteryear Hindi cinema’s quintessential “tragedy queen”, Meena Kumari beginning right from her birth until her death. The author for this book has left no stone unturned in researching in depth, and bringing to life the complexity of this actress’s life. He has also managed to maintain a fine balance between lavish praise and brutal criticism which is what makes this book a real page turner. In other words the author does a fabulous job in presenting this actress as a human and not as a star.
What is also unique is the way in which Mr. Mehta has divided this book into two sections. Section one deals with the life of the actress as seen from the public point of view while, section two titled “personal appraisal” is the author’s in depth personal analysis of the “tragedy queen” as a human as well as an actress. This clever use of sections by the author to highlight his perceptions and that of the public about the actress is what makes it an intriguing read. The only real glitch regarding this otherwise readable book is the fact that the subject herself was never really interviewed live by the author.
Writing style, language, and the tone used by the author
Like most of his other works the language used by the author is extremely lucid, and as a result is extremely readable. Furthermore, the writing is highly stylized and, is aided by brilliant use of appropriate quotations. For example, at the beginning of chapter one a quote from William Shakespeare’s famous play Julius Caesar has been used. In addition, the author by referring the actress as “my heroine” throughout the book has interestingly personalized the tone of this book. It is this personalized tone that separates this biography from the many others available in the market.
In totality, though it would be safe to say that this biography is a definite must read for all those Hindi movie buffs who are curious to read about the complex life of Hindi cinema’s genuine “tragedy queen” known as “Meena Kumari”.
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