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Mumtaz was born to Abdul Saleem Askari and Shadi Habib Agha in Mumbai, India, on 31 July 1947. She entered Hindi cinema at age 12. She started as an extra in films in the early 1960s like Boxer, Samson, Tarzan, and King Kong. In the 1960s, she starred in as many as 16 action films with freestyle wrestler Dara Singh and was labelled as a stunt film heroine. Dara Singh-Mumtaz pair had 10 of the 16 films as box office hits.
She first gained attention in a supporting role as a vamp in the A grade color hit film Mere Sanam (1965). She gained major attention when she played one of Dilip Kumar's leading ladies in Ram Aur Shyam (1967). The film became one of the top hits of the year, and she received her first Filmfare nomination as Best Supporting Actress. She supported Sharmila Tagore in several films in the late 1960s, such as for Saawan Ki Ghata, Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi, and Mere Humdum Mere Dost. She had a memorable song and dance number "Aaj Kal Tere Mere" with her co-star Shammi Kapoor in the hit film Brahmachari (1968). It took Raj Khosla's blockbuster Do Raaste (1969) starring Rajesh Khanna to finally make Mumtaz a full-fledged star. When earlier, she had played a small role as Rajendra Kumar's sister in Gehra Daag, now she was elevated to playing his leading lady in Tangewala. Shashi Kapoor who had earlier refused to work with her in Saccha Jootha because she was a "stunt film heroine" now wanted her to be his heroine in Chor Machaye Shor.
Mumtaz acted in 108 films in a career that spanned just 15 years till 1977. She won the Filmfare Best Actress Award for one of her favorite films Khilona in 1970. Mumtaz acted with Dharmendra, Feroz Khan, Sanjeev Kumar and Biswajeet but her pairing opposite Rajesh Khanna was the most popular with the audience and critics alike. Mumtaz had 8 super hits opposite Rajesh Khanna as the solo lead hero in the period 1969-1975.
In 1996 she received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. In June 2008, she was honored for her "Achievement in Indian Cinema" by the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) in Bangkok.
Mumtaz married Mayur Madhvani on 29 May 1974; they have two daughters, Natasha and Tanya. Mumtaz has acknowledged she successfully battled cancer.