The "Mishti mey" of silver screen Sarah Begum Kabari was born in 1952 to father Krishna Das Paul and mother Labonno Prova Pal.
Krishna Das Paul's was married twice and had two daughters and two sons from a previous marriage. Labonno Prova Pal was his second wife and together the couple give birth to five sons and four daughters. Even though the siblings had different mothers they all used to sing and dance together. Meena Pal was also an important part of the gaieties of the fun-loving siblings and was everyone's favourite in the family.
The whole family lived in Firingibazar of Chittagong and Meena Pal used to study at Al Koron school. She studied there till fourth grade and then later her mother transferred her to JM Sen high school. There she started to take part in various school plays during their cultural programmes. Meena acted as boy in their school plays.
Growing up Meena's family had no television inside their house. They were only able to listen to songs through their radio. They used to sing and dance to music and their father always encouraged them to pursue their passion. Meena used to take dance lessons from Runu Biswas. While they pursued arts and culture, the siblings also pursued their studies diligently.
The young 13 year old Meena Pal was just enjoying growing up in a cultural environment. She did not have the slightest idea that she would one day became the biggest name in the film industry.
Noted actor Subhash Dutta was looking for a young and innocent face to star with him in the film "Sutarang."
Satya Saha, the legendary music director suggested the name of a girl called Meena Pal who lived in Chittagong. The music director felt the young Meena would fit the image of the character "Zarina".
Subhash Dutta and Satya Saha immediately flew to Chittagong to contact Dr Kamal, who was a close friend of Kabori's father. Subhash Dutta and Satya Saha went to her house but found that the young girl was staying in Mymemsingh at the time.
Saddened not meet the actress, Subhash Dutta and Satya Saha returned to Dhaka. When the family returned to Chittagong, Kabori's father contacted Satya Saha. This time the legendary music director did not go there and instead asked Dr Kamal to send some pictures of Meena.
There was no news after that and Kabori believed that the director didn't like her image. Soon, Subhash Dutta informed the family that Kabori had been selected for the part and that she needs to immediately come to Dhaka for the screen test. Apparently the veteran actor was enamoured with the beautiful smile of Meena Pal's.
The young actress felt bad to leave behind her parents, especially her mother. Kabori's mother was not keen on letting her 13 year old leave her whole family to do a movie shot in Dhaka. Fortunately her father came to her rescue and convinced her mother that if she didn't like it there, she could come home immediately.
The actress left Chittagong on a train and moved to the famous Beauty Boarding of old Dhaka. On that same day, the young actress met the noted actor Subhash Dutta. She was all dressed up in an orange frock and Subhash told the actress to change into a sari quickly.
The actress changed into a sari and was then told to take the voice test. There, Subhash faced an obstacle as Meena was delivering her dialogues in Chatgaiya accent, which was a problem because Subhash's heroine has to speak in proper Bengali accent.
In an interview, the actress fondly recalled the memory. "I kept on repeating the dialogues the way Subhash dada wanted me to recite. I tried to grasp the accent by looking into his eyes and listening to his advice. Finally, I was selected for the role of Zarina and then came the next challenge of finding a proper name for me."
"Syed Shamsul Haque asked the team to find a proper name for me. Whatever name they would come up with had already been used by others, while other names were not liked by Subhash dada. They came up with Kabori, although others did not like it. The directors and the crew members were trying to between between two names, before finally settling on Kabori. And from then onwards, I became Kabori from Meena Pal," the actress added.
The film "Sutarang" came out in 1964 and became an instant hit, and from then onwards the actress didn't have to look back. She starred in movies Sujon Sokhi and Sareng Bou with Farooque in the 1970s. She also performed with Bulbul Ahmed in Devdas. She acted in another important role in Titash Ekti Nadir Naam directed by Indian filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak. She also acted in an Urdu film named "Bahana" by Zahir Raihan with co-actor Rahman.
The veteran actress not only entertained the audience with her wonderful acting but also donned the role of a producer, director and an author of her own autobiography titled "Sritituku Thaak."
Recently, she was directing the government funded movie "Ei Tumi Se Tumi", and the shooting for the film was almost over. The movie was going through its final dubbing and editing phase. Kabori was slated to playo a small role in the movie and was also preparing do another film.
Unfortunately, the legendary actress passed away and bid final adieu to the silver screen.