“He is the best actor of them all”, said the lovely Meena Kumari when asked to say something about her most important co-star to date, Ashok Kumar. Meena, who has been co-starred with such stalwarts of acting as Dilip Kumar, Bharat Bhoosan, Dev Anand, Kishore Kumar, maintains that of all her co-stars Ashok Kumar is the best.

Co-starred for the third time, in Gyan Mukerjee’s forthcoming film “Shatranj”, Meena & Ashok were together in “Baadbaan”, although in that picture Ashok had the lesser role as Dev Anand’s rival for her affections.

It was in “Parineeta” that the two stars had a field day in dramatic acting, & for her role in this film, Meena Kumari has been voted the Best Actress of the Year, winning Filmfare’s coveted Clare Award for the second year in succession.

“Parineeta” was essentially a “heroine’s picture” & there is no doubt that Meena was outstanding in her role. But much of the credit for her success must go to her co-star. Ashok the experienced & superb thespian instead of “hogging” scenes from the comparatively raw Meena, remained quietly yet forcefully in the background, turning in a restrained & utterly unselfish performance, helping as it were the lovely Meena to give of her best.

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It is for this reason that Meena holds Ashok in high esteem. Says she “Ashok never puts on any airs, never tries to force his talent & experience on anybody. I have always found him helpful & co-operative & whenever I did a not scene wrong he made me do it the right way, not b saying “this is how it must be done” but “don’t you think it would be better if it is done this way?”.

This kind of humility & consideration are, to my mind, the greatest assets of a true actor.”The disparity between their ages- Meena Kumari is twenty-two while Ashok is forty-three has not detracted from their popularity as a team.

In fact, they make an extremely handsome screen-pair, for Ashok, veteran though he is, refuses to age & is as charming & good-looking as he was when he started his career two decades ago.

Ashok has had practically every leading lady of the screen as his heroine, from the enchanting Devika Rani to the lovely Nargis & the tom-boyish Shashikala. He knows them all & is familiar with the brand of acting of each.

He thinks Meena Kumari is one of the best artists we have on the screen today, a fine, sensitive actress who deserves all the success & kudos which come her way. Both Ashok & Meena are serious artists & they are at their best in romantic dramas.

Yet, both have been teamed with stars whose impish natures were more marked than their own & both have tried their hand successfully at what is popularly known as “comic stuff”.

Meena was teamed with Kishore Kumar, Ashok’s boisterous brother in “Ilzam” & she turned in a fine comedy performance in it. Ashok recently turned “tough” in his own production “Samaj” & got a good many laughs for his rollicking scenes with the irrepressible Shashikala.

Yet, drama & tragedy are their forte & their fans want to see Ashok Kumar & Meena Kumari in the kind of roles they played in the unforgettable “Parineeta”. – Filmfare 1955

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