Zubeida and Master Vithal in Alam Ara (1931).
|Died||September 1988 (aged 76–77)|
|Spouse(s)||Maharaj Narsingir Dhanrajgir Gyan Bahadur|
|Parent(s)|| Fatima Begum |
Nawab Sidi Ibrahim Muhammad Yakut Khan III
|Relatives|| Sultana (sister)|
Rhea Pillai (granddaughter)
Zubeida Begum Dhanrajgir (1911–1988) was an Indian film actress. She acted in the first Indian talkie movie Alam Ara (1931). Her credits include early hits Devdas (1937), and Sagar Movietone's first talkie, Meri Jaan.
Born in Surat city of Gujarat in western India, Zubeida was a Muslim princess, the daughter of Nawab Sidi Ibrahim Muhammad Yakut Khan III of Sachin State and Fatima Begum. She had two sisters, Sultana and Shehzadi, both actresses. She was among the few girls who entered films at a tender age during a time when it was not considered an appropriate profession for girls from respectable families, let alone royalty.
Zubeida was only 12 when she made her debut in Kohinoor. Through the 1920s she made infrequent appearances on screen along with Sultana who, by then, had become one of Indian cinema's loveliest leading ladies. One of the films to star the two sisters was Kalyan Khajina in 1924. They had also shared the screen in Zubeida's first blockbuster, Veer Abhimanyu released two years earlier, that also had their mother, Fatima Begum, playing an important role.
In 1925 Zubeida had nine releases, amongst them Kala Chor, Devdasi and Desh Ka Dushman. A year later she starred in her mother's film, Bulbul-e-Paristan. 1927 was memorable for her with movies Laila Majnu , Nanand Bhojai and Naval Gandhi's Sacrifice which were very successful movies at this time. The latter, based on Rabindranath Tagore's 'Balidan', also starred Sulochana Devi, Master Vithal and Jal Khambatta. It condemned the age-old custom of animal sacrifice in certain Kali temples in Bengal. The Members of the Indian Cinematograph Committee were wowed by this "excellent and truly Indian film". Its European members recommended that it be sent abroad for screening.
Zubeida starred in a string of silent films before Alam Ara proved to be the turning point in her career and was her biggest hit. She suddenly was highly in demand and got wages high above the standards for a woman in the film industry at that time.
Through the '30s and early '40s she made a hit team with Jal Merchant and starred in several successful mythological films playing characters like Subhadra, Uttara and Draupadi. She was also successful in portraying emotions with films such as Ezra Mir's Zarina which had her playing a vibrant, volatile circus girl whose kisses steamed up the screen and sparked off heated debate on censorship. Zubeida was one of the few actresses to make a successful transition from the silent era to the talkies.
In 1934 she set up Mahalakshmi Movietone with Nanubhai Vakil and had box-office bonanzas in Gul-e-Sonobar and Rasik-e-Laila. She continued to appear in one or two films a year till 1949. Nirdosh Abla was her last film.
Zubeida married Maharaj Narsingir Dhanrajgir Gyan Bahadur of Hyderabad. She is the mother of Humayun Dhanrajgir and Dhurreshwar Dhanrajgir. Dhurreshwar is the mother of model Rhea Pillai.
Zubeida spent her last years at the family's Bombay palace, Dhanraj Mahal. She died in 1988and was laid to rest at Chhatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj Marg, Apollo Bunder, Colaba, south Mumbai amongst her children and grandchildren. She is survived by her son Humayun and grandchildren Nikhil Dhanrajgir, Ashok Dhanrajgir, Rhea Pillai and Karen Nina, and her son James Michael.
A tawaif was a highly sophisticated courtesan who catered to the nobility of the Indian subcontinent, particularly during the Mughal era. The tawaifs excelled in and contributed to music, dance (mujra), theatre, and the Urdu literary tradition, and were considered an authority on etiquette. Tawaifs were largely a North Indian institution central to Mughal court culture from the 16th century onwards and became even more prominent with the weakening of Mughal rule in the mid-18th century. They contributed significantly to the continuation of traditional dance and music forms and then emergence of modern Indian cinema.
Alam Ara was a 1931 Indian film directed by Ardeshir Irani. It was the first Indian sound film.
Fatma Begum (1892–1983) was an Indian actress, director, and screenwriter. She is often considered the first female film director of Indian cinema. Within four years, she went on to write, produce and direct many films. She launched her own production house, Fatma Films, which later became Victoria-Fatma Films, and directed her first film, Bulbul-e-Paristan, in 1926. She lived from 1892-1983 and was mother to three children.
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Jahanara Kajjan, also known as Kajjanbai (1915–1945), or "Miss Kajjan", was an Indian singer and actress active during the 1920s and 1930s, often referred to as the "Nightingale of Bengal". The reigning queen of early Talkie movies glamorous movie sensation the trained classical singer, the fashion icon and the trendsetter, Jahanara Kajjan she was known as ‘Lark of Hindi cinema’ and the ‘Beautiful Nightingale of Bengal Screen’. She along with Master Nissar made most sought after and popular singing pair of the stage and Films.
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Khan Bahadur Ardeshir Irani was a writer, director, producer, actor, film distributor, film showman and cinematographer in the silent and sound eras of early Indian cinema. He was the one of the greatest legend of today's Indian Cinema. He was the director of India's very first sound film Alam Ara. He was the producer of India's very first colour film Kisan Kanya. He was renowned for making films in Hindi, Telugu, English, German, Indonesian, Persian, Urdu and Tamil. He was a successful entrepreneur who owned film theatres, a gramophone agency, and a car agency.
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