Those were the days when stars were born, not made. The cliché seems to hold true more of yesteryear’s actors and actresses who came up the hard way through the grind, their innate talent shining through.
Veteran actor Kumkum, born Zaibunnissa, who passed away on Tuesday, had featured in over 100 Hindi films. But she is best known for her dazzling song and dance numbers, which is not the least surprising as she had learnt Kathak from the famous Pandit Shambhu Maharaj.
“Kabhi aar, Kabhi paar” and “Mere Mehboob Qayamat Hogi,' to name a few, were some of the hummable numbers; both coy and impish, by turn, the gentle flutter of the eyelashes was her contribution to the genre.
She was discovered by Guru Dutt, who had his friend Jagdeep in mind for the song "Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar Laaga Teere Nazar" for his movie Aar Paar (1954) but later decided to picturise it on a female actor. Later, she did a cameo in Pyaasa (1957).
‘‘Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan" from C.I.D (1956), sung by Geeta Dutt, was picturised on her. She was also paired alongside Shammi Kapoor in a side role in Mem Saheb (1956) and also in lead opposite Shammi Kapoor in Char Dil Char Raahein (1959).
Her most memorable appearances include that in Mr X in Bombay, Mother India, Kohinoor, Ujala and Naya Daur. But her popularity rests mostly on songs that were pictured on her, be it Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Re from Kohinoor (1960) or Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan from CID.
Kumkum, who had Nawabi ancestry, died at her Bandra residence due to age-related issues, her sister-in-law Shenaz told PTI. She hailed from Hussainabad in Sheikhpura district, Bihar.