Zubeida’s crashed airplane

I always consider, noted film maker Shyam Benegal’s 2001 masterpiece, ‘Zubeidaa’ as one of his best creations ever. The film has a powerful story, excellent production values and above all, sterling, once in a life time, performance of actress Karishma Kapoor, who has acted the principal role of ‘Zubaidaa.’ Many may think that this film story is an imaginary story or a work of fiction. But this may not be true. There was a real life Zubeida, and who did marry a Maharaja.
Real life Zubeida was very beautiful and was born into a Muslim family connected with the films. She always aspired to become an actress. However, her domineering father got her married into an unhappy marriage, where she had a son. After partition of India, the marriage fell through and Zubeida was divorced. She met Maharaja Hanuvant Singh of Jodhpur, who was a dashing man in his twenties and a keen horseman, hunter, pilot, and amateur magician. It is needless to say that being a Maharaja of the largest state in British India, he was stinking rich also.
Zubeida and Hanuwant Singh fell in love and had a passionate romance. However their affair did not meet the approval of the royal family. Zubeida being a divorcee , an actress and above all a Muslim. Finally Hanuwant singh had his way and managed to marry Zubeida. However, the young married couple was forced out of the royal residence ‘Umaid Bhavan Palace’ and was forced to stay in 15th century Mehrangarh fort.
Maharaja Hanuwant Singh was an immature and impetuous young man. He was forced to succeed the Jodhpur Royal throne at an young age, due to sudden death of his father. There are many known instances of his immature behaviour, in the period just before Independence of India. He considered joining Pakistan at one point of time, which would have been a great shocker and a coup for Pakistan and had even threatened a Government of India emissary with a pistol. He always had one genuine passion, that of flying. He was a keen flyer and had made Jodhpur and international airport, during pre-independence days.
In 1952, Hanuwant Singh got involved into politics and proved to be a big headache for the ruling congress party as he won his seat for the state assembly as well as for federal parliaments against the congress candidates.
After the polling, when it was clear that he would win by huge majority, he decided to celebrate his victory by taking his beloved wife Zubeida for a spin, over the deserts of Jodhpur in his favourite light aircraft, a Beechcraft Bonanza. Hanuwant singh was always a reckless flyer and was in habit of performing dangerous air stunts. No one knows exactly what happened later. But Hanuwant Singh and Zubeida just disappeared. The wreckage of the plane was later found out with Hanuwant Singh and Zubaida both proclaimed dead.
No one knew for sure, what was the exact reason for the air crash, as the wreckage of the plane also disappeared later and no proper inquiry was ever made.
Jodhpur Central Jail cellars
Recently, the staff of the Jodhpur Central Jail was looking through piles of rubble in the jail’s cellar, when they found the remains of the Maharaja Hanuwant Singh’s Beechcraft Bonanza plane, which was left unattended for last 62 years. The staff intially thought the wreckage to be from India-Pakistan war, because Jodhpur was bombed few times then. But later, the wreckage was found to be of the Maharaja’s aircraft.
Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Museum
Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Museum, has now asked for the possession of the wreckage. The Mehrangarh Museum Trust, founded in 1972 by Maharaja Gaj Sing, who was a son of Hanuwant Singh, has sent a formal letter to the jail authorities, seeking possession of the wreckage. Jail authorities say that they could take a decision only after Government clearance. The Mehrangarh Museum is a popular tourist destination. Every year, seventy to eighty thousand foreigners and more than 4 Lac (Hundred thousand) Indian visitors visit the museum. Museum director says that no decision has been taken regarding the course of action with the wreckage, but it would definitely be part of their collections.
One thing is for sure, the wreckage, displayed in whatever form in the museum, would be popularly remembered as a witness of Zubeida”s last moments if popularity of the film ‘Zubeidaa’ is taken as any clue.
27 February 2012



About chandrashekhara

I am a retired electronics engineer. I am interested in writing, reading books. Other hobbies include Paper models, wooden fret work and social networking.


19 thoughts on “Zubeida’s crashed airplane

  1. I have always enjoyed ur masaledar posts! Looking forward to more!

    Posted by tskraghu | March 6, 2012, 3:29 pm
  2. Do you know thing about the child born to Zubeida and maharaja hanuwant singh and their present day descendants?

    Posted by Laxmi | June 3, 2012, 12:47 am
    • Laxmi –

      I am aware that Zubeida begum had a son. His name was Khalid Mohammed. However I am not aware about their present day descendants.

      Posted by chandrashekhara | June 4, 2012, 8:44 am
    • Rao Raja Hukum Singh [Tutu Jodhpur] (by Zubeida), born 1952, educated at Rajkumar College, Rajkot (1964) and at Mayo College, Ajmer; married Rani Rajeshwari Kumari of Alwar, and had issue, one son and one daughter. He died in the 1980’s.
      Rao Raja Parikshit Singh
      Rajkumari Jayanandini Kumari, married Kunwar Vikramaditya Singh of Palaitha-Kotah.

      Posted by Av | May 19, 2013, 5:12 pm
      • Av

        Thanks for information

        Posted by chandrashekhara | May 20, 2013, 6:25 am
      • Sir I need some pics of Rao raja hukam shing ji

        Posted by raju | October 1, 2014, 5:16 pm
      • This is an intriguing and tragic family. Her son tutu was found beheaded does anybody know the circumstances of his death. Would appreciate any info

        Posted by Sunil shah | March 21, 2016, 12:22 pm
  3. Hi your blog post is very interesting. Is that a picture of the real Zubeida with her son Tutu Bana?

    Posted by Vaihayasi | October 23, 2012, 10:03 am
    • Vaihayasi

      Thanks for your comment. The photo claims to be of real Zubeida. Obviously I would not know for sure, but appears like the real stuff.

      Posted by chandrashekhara | October 23, 2012, 1:04 pm
      • That is fascinating. Where did you find/see the pic?

        Posted by Vaihayasi | October 23, 2012, 2:20 pm
      • Vaihayasi

        Frankly, I do not recollect now. But one thing is sure that I got it from the web only. If you search , maybe you can find few more photographs of this beautiful lady on the web.

        Posted by chandrashekhara | October 23, 2012, 4:24 pm
  4. Hi Mr. Chandrashekhara…
    This article is truely a mover. Can u give me some information about Zubeida begum who died with fire at chembur studio while recording a song for a hindi movie?

    Posted by akanksha | April 24, 2013, 2:11 pm
  5. zubeida begum has over confident about herself
    but she was so beautifull but she has no passion or passence

    Posted by pramod goyal | May 28, 2013, 4:35 pm
  6. If H H Maharaja Hanvany singhji come again????

    Posted by Sd | November 1, 2014, 10:38 pm
  7. Yes it is true Hanwant Singh was stupid Who even happen to marry such a women

    Posted by ssr | December 2, 2014, 5:50 pm
  8. It’s very true that the film Zubeida is Benegal’s one of the best..I just love it and everything written on it…Thank u very much for the article..It seems that the matured and decent king in the film is Benegal’s creation…He has touched an ordinary metal and transformed it into pure gold…Hats off to the great director….

    Posted by MADHURI | July 16, 2015, 11:24 pm

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