The year is 1968. Celebrated Bollywood stars Shammi Kapoor and Mumtaz shimmy on a popular dance number, Aaj Kal Tere Mere Pyaar Ke Charche, that has gone on to enthrall the audience even today. The onscreen couple, once Bollywood’s most sought-after pair, was rumoured to have a budding romance that went cold in a short span of time. 

Mumtaz, who has been battling some health issues recently, spoke to Pinkvilla about her intimate relationship with Shammi, her marriage and her extra-marital affairs while shedding light on the Indian film industry’s unreal beauty standards. 

The veteran star first spoke about her alleged relationship with the Andaaz star. Mumtaz shared how, at 17, she was dealing with heartbreak during the peak of her career. “I loved him tremendously,” the now 74-year-old star revealed. “I believe Shammiji also loved me a lot. I felt sad that I couldn’t marry him. I was only around 17. He was 18 years older than me. It was too early for me to get married. I wanted to prove myself. We separated with understanding. He didn’t do anything to leave a khalish (ache) in my heart.”

Mumtaz then added, “He was very sweet and caring towards me. But you can’t fight destiny. Honestly, had I got married, it wouldn’t have worked. Because I’d have always held a regret in my heart. I wanted to act. I wanted to achieve something. The Kapoor family was strict about their bahus not working in films. Nevertheless, Shammiji married such a wonderful lady, a beautiful person. Neila Deviji’s such a sweetheart. She suited him perfectly and handled him so well.”

Mumtaz then went on to marry Mayur Madhvani in 1974. Mayur, who wasn’t in the entertainment industry, had a hard time adjusting to his wife’s world of glitz and glamour. But the actor shared that even though Mayur wasn’t from the fraternity, she had known him since she was ten years old. 

“I knew the Madhvanis since I was 10. I knew the family in and out. I’d even been to Uganda and stayed with them. It was like moving from one home to another,” Mumtaz commented and added, “I didn’t give up on my marriage… Isiliye mera miyan bhi mera hi hai. He loves me so much.”

She then addressed how Mayur had an extra-marital affair. “It’s quite common for men to have affairs through the backdoor. My husband didn’t have any… except one. I respect him because he himself told me about it. He confided that he’d developed a liking for a girl in the US. He was born and brought up in America,” the Indian star continued. “But he insisted, ‘Mumtaz, you’re my wife. I love you and will always love you. I will never leave you.’ The problem arose because I was a little stubborn, a little difficult. But today, it’s a forgotten story. Even god forgives ones. I live like a queen. My husband has never kept me wanting for anything.

Mumtaz then spoke about her own extra-marital affair. “Honestly, after the episode, I began feeling lonely. I was headstrong. I felt hurt. So, I flew down to India. When you’re amidst thorns and someone comes along with a rose, you do get carried away. But it was nothing serious. Just a temporary phase, which ended soon. I’m lucky that my husband still loves me so much. Even if I fall a bit sick, all hell would break loose.”

Mumtaz went on to credit her husband for ‘bringing her back to life’ after she battled cancer. 

“Had it not been for my husband, I’d have been dead by now. Mine was slow-growing cancer. The doctors said that they had removed what was necessary. But Mayur’s well-read and well-informed. He insisted that they check the lymph nodes. He asked me, ‘Do you mind going through another surgery for my sake? I want my children to have their mother. I will love you even if you have no hair.’ I went through another surgery and out of the 22 lymph nodes, they found some growth in one.” She added, “Years ago, the treatment was harsher. I used to turn blue after the therapy. I had to go through six chemotherapies and 35 radiations. That was the time I bloated. I had to eat well to fight the side effects of chemo. I began my weight loss journey much later.”

Mumtaz also shed light on any regrets she has in her lifetime. “When my parents (Sardar Begum Habib Agha and Abdul Sameed Askari) divorced, I was around three. I lived with my mother, grandma and aunt. My father disappeared. So, as a child, I used to miss him. Otherwise, I have no regrets.” She went on to add, “I’m someone, who went all out to fulfill my dreams. You make your own life. I call God my ‘boyfriend’. He saved me from death, he gave me a loving husband and children. My life’s been an open book. The good and the bad co-exist. Even Shahenshahs don’t get it good all the time.”

Mumtaz, one of the most stunning stars of her time, shared she had always been very conscious. “I had a voluptuous figure. I was never too slim. I was heavy everywhere. I had to control my weight. A woman should appear proportionate. I didn’t want to be called fat,” she said. “Along with being an actor comes the challenge of always looking your best. An actor is expected to look beautiful even in death. Janaaza bhi beautiful lagna chahiye! This is the truth. But I like to live normally. I enjoy being a housewife and I go shopping for vegetables, fruits… I want to experience everything.”

The actor then asserted, “A casual picture was taken unawares, in which you may not appear so nice, can go viral. For instance, around 20 years ago when I was undergoing cancer treatment, I bloated. That ‘bloated’ picture did the rounds for years. I got remarks like, ‘Mumtaz is done for.'”

Mumtaz concluded with, “On 31 July, I will be 75. I could have lied about my age but I didn’t. I guess, for 75 I’ve maintained myself pretty well. But I never come across comments saying, ‘Wow at this age she still appears fit!’ I request my critics that when I appear good, please don’t hesitate to say so.”

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