Translated from the Urdu by a “Filmfare” reporter.

When I was a little girl I was fond of listening to stories like other children.

My sisters and I would pester our mother or grandmother to tell us stories of fairies and witches, of kings and commoners stories of long ago and far away lands of animals, people, fools, wise men.


One day our grandmother told us a very interesting tale. It was about three liars who loved to outdo one another in the art of lying.

Once when they met, each had a tall story to tell.

Said the first liar: “I am a happy-go-lucky man, fond of the good things of life. Some time ago, I set out on a travel to see the world.

After wandering for days, I came to the horizon. There, I saw the most remarkable sight I had ever seen.

Everywhere, as far as I could see, the earth was covered with gold. It was a beautiful spectacle naturally! So I decided to stay there.

  • meena kumari at beach

But in a short while, when the sun rode high, the gold turned hot. The heat from it was unbearable and its dazzling brilliance was blinding.

“I then went into a cave thinking I would be comfortable there. But the cave too was covered with gold and I had to flee, because of the heat.

Of course, I did benefit by going there. The molten gold had stuck to my body, and on my return, I was a very rich man. That gold is useful to me even now.”

The second liar wasn’t at all impressed by this story and said: “You fled from the horizon because of a little heat. I had to run away from the moon because of the cold, although I was very happy there, and greatly respected.

“Chandni (moonlight), Princess of the Moon, used to worship me. Whenever I spoke. the words froze in my mouth from the cold, and the princess would gather them lovingly and treasure them.”

The third liar was astonished at this, but he had his own story. He said: “Do words freeze on the moon? In my country, which is beneath the seven seas, when we light the candles their flames become solid and shatter into a million sparkling fragments of light!”

When grandmother came to the end of the tale, I laughed and laughed, till the tears ran down my cheeks, although even in my childhood I used to laugh only very rarely. Perhaps I was not convinced by the tales of the liars.

  • meena kumari portrait 1959

When I was asked to write about my likes and dislikes for “Filmfare” I was reminded of this story I had heard in my childhood and began to laugh to myself! I wondered what lies I should tell which readers wouldn’t mind.

Well, what shall I say? Would you believe it if I tell you I like death? And why?

The answer cannot be found in all the learned books. It is a matter of personal preference. I like the echoes hidden in that word, the peace and rest it promises.

I do not like crowds, noise, confusion. I don’t like quarrels with oneself and with others. You may not like what I like, and in the matter of likes and dislikes, we may begin to quarrel and I dislike quarrels.

I like silences. I spend long hours in silence, withdrawn within myself in the midst of crowds and in the studio sometimes I take refuge in it. Even when I am speaking, I lapse into a contemplative stillness.

Within each moment passed in silence lurks a fascinating story sad or happy, who knows? But there is always a story and it can be heard softly within your heart for a very long time.

At such moments I have the sensation of being, not one but two personalities on engaged in the pursuits of everyday life, the other, chasing the dreams and shadows of some inner world.

In noise, confusion, and quarrel there is utter emptiness. A poet wrote so beautifully:

“Maut- toofan ki Ek ubharti lehr, Zindagi- ek hawa ka zannata, Ashk- veeran kehkashan ka shehr, Qehqaha- ek udas sannata”

(Death is the rising wave of the storm, Life is a gust of wind, Tears are the ruined cities of the stars, Laughter is sad silence.)

  • meena kumari urdu

Silence has beauty and grandeur. I see these in every book which is left closed because the book is silent. Silence denotes restraint, a withholding of the personality.

It is like the vast endless sky, in whose bosom birds fly so freely but this world is like a cage in which man has to live and struggle. (That is why I do not like animals as pets or caged birds.)

And to tell you the truth, I don’t like writing about Likes and Dislikes! Why? I realized that the public is interested in film stars but only so long as the stars are seen on the screen and they put over good portrayals.

My preferences in roles are well known to my fans. What more need I tell you? Besides, why should I discuss my personal life, tell more of my likes and dislikes?

There are many “whys” in life and I have the answer to this one. It is that human beings indulge in self-deception, and deliberately do not want to recognize themselves. They generally overlook their weaknesses.

  • meena kumari neck

People like to flatter themselves. They are fond of painting their self-portraits in the most flattering shades. Every color must be attractive.

All want to be liked, but some want to be liked most when they are in a crowd. They like to stand out in it.

They love to be arrayed in finery and have the aroma of incense cling to them as it were, to hear themselves described in glowing terms and claimed as leaders of humanity.

There are very few brave people who, when they paint their faults, who instead of always desiring to be seen in finery, also do not mind being seen in rags.

So, to put before you all my likes and not put before you all my dislikes that is something I don’t like. – Filmfare 1959

One thought on “Likes And Dislikes By Meena Kumari

  1. Siddharth says:

    Acting came easily to her. One wonders if she ever acted… such a beautiful woman and such a beautiful voice… full of grace and elegance!

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