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Actresss-dancer Minoo Mumtaz dies at 79 in Canada

Read in: Hindi

The daughter of character actor Mumtaz Ali and sister of actor Mehmood, she made her cinematic debut in Sakhi Hatim (1955).

Minoo Mumtaz in a still from Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960)

Sonal Pandya

Actress and dancer Minoo Mumtaz, daughter of character actor and dancer Mumtaz Ali and the sister of actor Mehmood, died of age-related at 1.30 am [IST] in Toronto, Canada. She was 79.

Her younger brother Anwar Ali confirmed the news, stating, “Regret to inform that my loving sister Minoo Mumtaz, passed away (in Canada). Deep gratitude to the film fraternity, press, media, fans, friends, for decades of love and adulation showered upon her...”

The actress, who was born on 26 April 1942, made her film debut in Nanubhai Vakil's Sakhi Hatim (1955), following in father's footsteps. Born Malikunnisa Begum, she was one of eight siblings and had a strong screen presence in Hindi cinema during the 1950s and 1960s with films such as CID (1956), Naya Daur (1957), Howrah Bridge (1958), Black Cat (1959), Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960), Shahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962), Taj Mahal (1963) and Bhoot Bungla (1964).

Actress Meena Kumari, whose sister was married to Mehmood, nicknamed her Minoo and the name stuck for her silver-screen persona as well. She married director S Ali Akbar in 1963 and had four children, a son and three daughters.

Minoo’s nephew Naushad Memon spoke to Cinestaan.com and shared a few details about his illustrious aunt.

“She was a very fun-loving person,” he said over the telephone. “She loved travelling, loved [to] see people, and she was very caring and affectionate. She was like a mother to everyone, helping out in whichever way she could.”

She immigrated to Toronto in the early 1980s as her children were all settled there. Memon last saw her at a family wedding before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The former actress, who gave up films after marriage, would come down to India nearly every year.

But Memon said that she missed the limelight. “She enjoying [working] thoroughly. That kind of attention, when you become an actor she missed that throughout her life after marriage,” he said.

“She and Helenji were the very graceful dancers of the 1950s and 1960s,” Memon said. “They were always pitched together. The comparison was also healthy because Helenji was excellent. They were very close because they knew each other very well."

Minoo was not a trained dancer but was naturally graceful. She and her siblings grew up watching their father, who was one of the first choreographers in Indian cinema. “Then my grandfather had a theatre group of his own. He used to travel to different cities, performing on stage and these kids used to perform [too], and he used to train them. Basically, they got training from their father only,” he recalled.

The actress is survived by her younger brothers, Shaukat and Anwar, and her children.