Since we have started our column “Stars Meet Fans In Spotlight” in which stars reply to the questions sent by their fans, we have been receiving lots of letters addressed to participating stars. Surprisingly, this inward mall continues even after the particular stars have concluded their series, due to limited time at their disposal, due to shooting schedules, or their being away from Bombay for outdoors various spots of India.

On persistent demand of our readers, we approached Meena Kumari, who had met her fans through these columns some months back, and put this peculiar phenomenon before her. She agreed to write this open letter to all her admirers and she has tried to explain her dilemma between her two prized loves-films and fans.
I am very much thankful to you for taking such a sustained interest in my career. I feel it was only yesterday that I had that lovely opportunity when I had met you through these columns and had given replies to some of your queries.

But someone reminded me that it was many months back-how time flies! And when I came to know that you have been busy writing to me even after I had to cut short that pleasant interlude because of shooting schedules, I was really touched to the core of my heart.
I have gone through many of those letters and I have noted the almost recurring sentence “Meenadi, you have been neglecting us”. Nothing could be farther than the truth. I know the importance of fans, their views, their affectionate criticism of my work and their helpful tips for better performance of my roles.

People say that such views of fans are always biased and not to be relied upon, since they will admire any and every appearance of their favorites on the screen. These are cynics’ views. I believe that stars, because they are closer to fans, have to satisfy higher standards in their eyes. Fans can be most exacting in their demands and they are quick to express their displeasure should their stars give inferior performances
I have concrete examples before me proving that it has been fans who have guided my film career in better and better spheres of histrionics. I have been in films since the age of four years and I know that roles assigned to stars follow a rigid pattern, depending upon the audience and fans who want to see them in those roles only.

This is that vicious trap of type-casting in which many stars have to languish because their admirers like to see them in that image only. Luckily if they get a chance at being different It depends upon the subsequent response from fans which is a bigger force in deciding whether the new image has clicked. It’s my firm fan mail is the correct index of gauging the change in public taste in this respect.
I have been lucky that you have been on my side whenever I have made a major switchover from one type role to other. You have understood my wishes, or rather the desire of every human being. for novelty.

Had it not been so I would have still been a celestial creature enlivening the images of goddesses from hoary mythologies. The chain started with Veer Ghatotkach which proved a hit and I became a sort of ‘Chhoti goddess divine character with others in ‘Ganesh Mahima Hanuman Patal Vijay’, ‘Laxmi Narayan’ and others.

When my film “Baiju Bawara’, in which I had a totally different role, came before the audience it was a test whether you will accept a divine creature in the ordinary life of a love-lorn maid. I was accepted and this gave me opportunities to explore this new sphere extensively which resulted in some of the most satisfying Alms of my career like Sharda’, ‘Azad, Ek hi Raasta, Hi Raasta’, and others too numerous to mention individually.

Even when I took the greatest risk in my acting career by portraying the role of a drunkard in ‘Sahib Bibi Aur Gulam’, your appreciation and acceptance enhanced my faith and spurred me to still better performances. Today I am happy to state that I have a generous sprinkling of every different type of role in my current assignments.
You write that I should reply to each of you individually. How can I explain, and not that invite pouting complaints that such requests put me in difficult positions. On the other hand, I am asked to appear more frequently before you on the screen.

This requires regular attendance of shooting schedules, preparation for the roles at home, memorizing dialogues and doing doing other incidental chores necessary for making a film. And, coincidentally, it has so happened that all my starrers are under production simultaneously.

No sooner I complete eight days’ continuous schedule for one film than another set is ready to continue work from the very next day. On some days it so happens that I have to work for two different films in a single day.

Unlike other professional workers who have Sunday as the rest day, we have to work throughout the month, with only one holiday-second Sunday; that, too, just because studios are compulsorily closed on that day.

And this day too, most often, is passed in giving interviews to the press and attending photographic sessions for your benefit. From this, I am sure you will understand how difficult it is to snatch a few hours every day to reply to thousands of letters individually. The greatest handicap is that a day has only twenty-four hours.
But in this hectic span of day I do manage to get through the fan mail. From these, I come to know firsthand how my latest release fared in your eyes. The love and affection pouring through the pages All me with energy and renew my faith to face the day of shooting in a better frame of mind.

Whenever I feel low in spirits your lovely letters always succeed in putting me in a brighter mood. Recently I had an opportunity to meet some of you in person I when I went for outdoor shooting for ‘Nurjehan’ in Mysore.

Such huge crowds had gathered at each site and they were considerate enough to realize the importance of allowing us to continue shooting without violent interruptions. It created such a fine impression on my, mind.
Can I close this letter now I hope you won’t mind. I will now concentrate my attention in completing as many films as possible so that you can judge my progress and enjoy my performance for many more times.

With your faith and love by my side, I feel rejuvenated to tackle each new type of role-and really there are so many different ones of these, ranging from historicals, socials, emotional and some lighter ones.

I promise you that I will snatch a little time frequently and write something for all of you collectively. And whenever I have more free time I will send individual replies; this is also a promise. With love.
Yours Very Truly,

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