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Nanda was guardian angel to newcomers

‘Since I struggled to secure my own place in the world of films, it was my motto to help newcomers.’

Ranjan Das Gupta  29th Mar 2014


ctress Nanda, who passed away this week, spoke to Ranjan Das Gupta last year and earlier this year about her life and career. Excerpts:

"I am the daughter of reputed actor Master Vinayak. But my father kept us away from the razzmatazz of the film world. Our family values were deeply rooted in Marathi culture.

"Dr V. Shantaram introduced me to the films with Toofan Aur Diya in the late 1950s. I was paired with Rajendra Kumar. At the time it did not seem that I was working in a film. Shantaram treated us with utmost care and maintained a school like atmosphere on the sets of Rajkamal Kalamandir.

"I was noticed as an actress of substance first in B.R. Chopra's Dhool Ka Phool, which was directed by debutant Yash Chopra. After the Dhool Ka Phool's success, B.R. Chopra cast me in Kanoon.

"Initially I used to be offered the role of sister as in Bhabhi and Kala Bazaar. The song Bhaiya Mere Rakhi Ke Bandhan Ko Nibhana made me the eternal sister. I was desperate to come out of this mould. It was Dev and Vijay Anand who cast me as Ruma in Hum Dono. It was a major break for me as a heroine. The other actress in the film was the sweet, vivacious Sadhana.

"It was Nitin Bose who extracted the best from me as an actress in Nartaki. He followed Satyajit Ray's style of realistic film making and advised me to use the least amount of makeup.

"I struggled to secure my position in the world of films. So it was my motto to help newcomers. In this regard I want to make a special mention of Shashi Kapoor, who made his debut as a hero with me in Char Diwari. In the first shot we worked together, Shashi looked straight into my eyes and eclipsed me with one emotional expression. Who can forget Shashi Kapoor's smile as I lipped Yeh sama, sama hai pyar ka, in Jab Jab Phool Khile?

"Punditji Maharaj Manoj Kumar ghost-directed almost the entire of the spine chilling Gumnaam. As we shot for the romantic number, Jane chaman shola badan, he touched me with decency and dignity never trying to be sensuous. His picturisation of Ek Pyar Ka Nagma Hai in Shor, with waves of the seas softly kissing my feet had a hidden poetry in itself.

"I worked with Raj Kapoor, Sunil Dutt, Dharmendra, Sanjay Khan and Rajesh Khanna. We all shared a good rapport. I noticed a lot of potential in Rajesh Khanna whilst working in Ittefaq. I was not at all satisfied with my later films. I experimented with the character of a westernised drug addict in Naya Nasha, but it flopped. Besides, the film industry was changing for the worse from the middle of the 1970s. So I decided to call it a day gracefully as the days of innocence to which I was accustomed to, were over.

As told to Ranjan Das Gupta

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