Zubeida

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For the 2001 film, see Zubeidaa. For the Indian actress on which it is based, see Zubeida Begum.
For the Arabian queen, see Zubaidah bint Ja`far.
Zubeida (actress)
Master Vithal and Zubeida in Alam Ara, 1931.jpg
Master Vithal and Zubeida in Alam Ara, 1931.
Born Zubeida Begum
1911
Surat, Bombay Presidency, British India
Died September 1988
Bombay, Maharashtra, India
Occupation Film actor
Years active 1922-1949
Spouse(s) Maharaj Narsingir Dhanrajgir Gyan Bahadur
Children Humayun Dhanrajgir (Son)Dhurreshwar Dhanrajgir (Daughter)

Zubeida Begum Dhanrajgir (Urdu: بیدہ ‎) (1911-1988) was an Indian film actress and an Indian Princess. She acted in the first Indian talkie movie Alam Ara (1931).[1] Her credits include early hits Devdas (1937), and Sagar Movietone's first talkie, Meri Jaan.

In the presence of seasoned actors like Prithviraj Kapoor and Master Vithal, Zubeida blossomed and wowed everyone with her singing, dancing and her speech and became one of Indian cinema's earliest superstars. Her mother, Fatima Begum, India's first woman film director and a superstar of the silent movie era in her own right directed her daughter Zubeida in films and even acted alongside her. This remarkable partnership prepared the ground for Zubeida's remarkable transition from the very different form and stylistics of silent movies to that of talking movies. Her role in Indian cinema's first talkie, Alam Ara, brought to the fore her incredible talent and instantly launched her into superstardom and fame in India and among the already established film industry in Europe and America where she had many friends and admirers. She would later fall in love with and marry an Indian Maharaja and eventually gave up her acting career when she was at the very height of her profession.

She was among the few girls who entered films at the age of 12 in a time when it was not considered an appropriate profession for girls from respectable families, let alone Royalty. Born in Surat city of Gujarat in western India, Zubeida was a stunningly beautiful Muslim princess, the daughter of Nawab Sidi Ibrahim Muhammad Yakut Khan III of Sachin and Fatima Begum. She had two sisters, Sultana and Shehzadi, both actresses.

Biography[edit]

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.

Zubeida with Master Vithal, in Alam Ara (1931)

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 'Balidaan', also starred Sulochana, 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. Zubeida 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 mythologicals playing characters like Subhadra, Uttara and Draupadi. She was also successful in transmitting 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. Zubeida spent her last years in Dhanraj Mahal Palace.

Zubeida was laid to rest at Chhatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj Marg, Apollo Bunder, Colaba, south Mumbai in Mumbai amongst her children and grandchildren. She died in 1988.[2] She is survived by her son Humayun and grandchildren Nikhil Dhanrajgir, Ashok Dhanrajgir, Rhea Pillai and Karen Nina.

Filmography[edit]

Silent Movies[edit]

Year Title Producer Notes
1922 Veer Abhimaniyu Kohinoor & Imperial Side Actress along with her Actress sister Sultana. First blockbuster of Zubeida.
1924 Gul Bakavali Kohinoor & Imperial Debut Movie as lead actress
Kalyan Khajina Kohinoor & Imperial
Kala Naag Kohinoor & Imperial
Manorama Kohinoor & Imperial
Prithvi Vallabh Ashoka Pictures
Sati Sardarba Saraswati Film Company
1925 Black Thief Laxmi Pictures
Deva Dasi Laxmi Pictures
Desh Ka Dushman Kohinoor & Imperial
Indra Sabha Kohinoor & Imperial
Ra Navghan Royal Arts
Rambha of Rajnagar Kohinoor & Imperial
The Divine Punishment Kohinoor & Imperial
1926 Abola Rani Excelsior Film Company
Bulbul-e-Paristan Fatima Film Corporation First Movie by a Lady Director mother of Zubeida and Sultana
Kashmeera Excelsior Film Company
Man & His Destiny Royal Arts
Missing Bracelet Royal Arts
Sati Menadevi Royal Arts
1927 Laila Majnu Excelsior Film Company
Nanand Bhojai Excelsior Film Company
Sacrifice Oriental Pictures
1928 Chamakti Chanda Jagtap Film Company
Emperor Ashok Lokmanya Film Company
Golden Gang Jagtap Film Company
Heer Ranjha Victoria Fatima Film Company
1929 Kanak Tara Fatima Film Company
Mahasunder Precious Pictures corporation
Milan Dinar
Wonderful Prince Victoria Fatima Film Company
Young India Indulal Yagnik
1930 Devdasi International Pictures Corporation
Fall of Pride Vivekanand Pictures
Love Angle Ranjit Film Company
Veer Rajput Oriental Pictures
1931 Eye For An Eye Sagar
Land Of Pyramids Sagar
Romantic Prince Sagar
Underworld Kohinoor U.A
Wages of Sin Sharda Mysore Pictures Corporation

Talkie Movies[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1931 Alam Ara Imperial Film Company First Indian Talkie Movie. Released on 14th March 1931
Meri Jaan Sagar
Veer Abhimaniyu Sagar
1932 Zarina Sagar
1933 Bulbul-e-Punjab Mahalaxmi Cinetone
Mahabharat Sagar
Pandav Kaurav Sagar
The Untouchable The British India Film Company
1934 Gul Sanobar Imperial Film Company
Nanand Bhojai Mahalaxmi Cinetone
Nand Ke Lala Mahalaxmi Cinetone
Rashk-E-Laila Mahalaxmi Cinetone
Seva Sadan Mahalaxmi Cinetone
1935 Birbal Ke Beti Mahalaxmi Cinetone
Gulshan-E-Alam Mahalaxmi Cinetone
1936 Laylo Nehar Imperial Film Company
Maa Prafulla Pictures
1937 Aurat Ki Zindagi Sunrise Pictures
Devdas Sunrise Pictures Assamese movie
Kiski Pyari Sunrise Pictures

References[edit]

External links[edit]