On International Women’s Day, The New York Times published an obituary of actress Madhubala, as part of a series of 15 obituaries of trailblazing women from across the globe.
The series titled Overlooked begins with the declaration: “Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. Now, we’re adding the stories of 15 remarkable women.”
Madhubala is the only Indian featured in the series. Written by Aisha Khan, the article paints Madhubala as a tragic figure in Indian cinema, whose life was cut short at the age of 36 as a result of prolonged illness. The article draws parallels between the actress’s life and Mahal (1949), in which she portrays an enigmatic woman who haunts an abandoned palace. “A Bollywood legend whose tragic life mirrored Marilyn Monroe’s,” the article notes.
The article goes on to commend Madhubala’s acting versatility. “Her natural, understated acting style brought her equal success in serious social dramas like Amar [Eternal] and in lighthearted comedies and period pieces,” Khan writes. The tribute also mentions her popularity in foreign countries such as Greece.
The obituary ends with shedding light on Madhubala’s early years, when she took up acting at a very young age to support her poor family, and mentions her relationship with Dilip Kumar and marriage to Kishore Kumar.