Master Vithal and Zubeida in Alam Ara, 1931.
Surat, Bombay Presidency, British India
Bombay, Maharashtra, India
|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). 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.
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 '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 like 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. Dhanraj Mahal is an Art Deco building, a design style that originated in Paris in the early 20th century. It has an interesting history. Built in the 1930s, it was the former palace of the Raja Dhanrajgir of Hyderabad, and once the largest and costliest building in Mumbai. The Ministry of Defense acquired it during World War II, but later gave it back to the royal family.
Now, Dhanraj Mahal is rented out to residential and commercial tenants. It has a total area of 130,000 square feet and a huge central courtyard. Its scenic location overlooks the Arabian Sea.
Where: Chhatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj Marg, Apollo Bunder, Colaba, south Mumbai in Mumbai amongst her children and grandchildren. She died in 1988. She is survived by her son Humayun and grandchildren Nikhil Dhanrajgir, Ashok Dhanrajgir, Rhea Pillai and Karen Nina.
|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|
|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|
|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|
|Wages of Sin||Sharda Mysore Pictures Corporation|
|1931||Alam Ara||Imperial Film Company||First Indian Talkie Movie. Released on 14th March 1931|
|The Untouchable||The British India Film Company|
|1934||Gul Sanobar||Imperial Film Company|
|Nanand Bhojai||Mahalaxmi Cinetone|
|Nand Ke Lala||Mahalaxmi Cinetone|
|Seva Sadan||Mahalaxmi Cinetone|
|1935||Birbal Ke Beti||Mahalaxmi Cinetone|
|1936||Laylo Nehar||Imperial Film Company|
|1937||Aurat Ki Zindagi||Sunrise Pictures|
|Kiski Pyari||Sunrise Pictures|
- First Talkie Actress - Rani Zubieda www.downmelodylane.com.
- With Rani Zubeida Dharajgir's death:Curtain comes down on silent movie. The Free Press Journal, 17 October 1988