One of the most gorgeous actresses of all times, Mumtaz would have remained a marginal player in the entertainment business if it wasn’t for the great principled filmmaker V Shantaram who gave Mumtaz her first break as a heroine by default. The story goes like this: V Shantaram had cast Jeetendra and Shantaram’s daughter Rajshri in the lead for Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti in 1964. Mumtaz had just a bit role in the film. On the first day of shooting, Rajshri was late. She had decided to get married to an American and leave the country. Shantaram who was a stickler for discipline was livid. Rather than wait for his own daughter, he turned to Mumtaz and announced, ‘You are my heroine’.
That’s how her journey into superstardom began. In an interview to me in 2012 Mumtaz confirmed the above incident. She said, “I was signed for a guest appearance to do a song. I had done bit roles in Shantaramji’s Stree and Sehra. I couldn’t say no to him. So I agreed to do a song in Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti. Then his daughter Rajshree who was playing the lead in the film, decided she didn’t want to work. So Shantaramji decided to cast me as the leading lady in Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti.”
Jeetendra became one of her favourite co-stars later, though he initially refused to work with her. Admitted Mumtaz, “Ya, he said, ‘Mumtaz ke saath main kaam nahin karunga’. Shantaramji put his foot down. He told Jeetu, ‘If you don’t want to work with her you leave the film. I’ll take another hero.’ But Jeetuji finally relented. I held no grudges against Jeetuji because in those days many big heroes refused to work with me.”
Just a few years later, they were all clamouring to work with Mumtaz. When Jeetendra asked her to do a song and dance in his film Humjoli, she readily agreed.