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Jeevan Ka Matlab To Aana Aur Jaana Hai: Remembering Nanda

March 25, 2014 | By

In a career spanning over 71 films, Nanda worked with a range of co-stars from rank newcomers to the biggest stars, and boldly chose roles that exploited her histrionic talents, no matter whether the role was small or the lead. A tribute with a journey through her songs.

Allah tero naam, Eeshwar tero naam
Sabko sanmati de Bhagwan

When you watch this beautiful Lata Mangeshkar bhajan in Hum Dono (1961), you can’t help marveling at the sincerity and plaintive faith expressed by the young Nanda, a dulcet beauty who had a childlike innocence in her persona.

Veteran actress Nanda

Nanda, a dulcet beauty who had a childlike innocence in her persona.
Pic: SMM Ausaja

In a career spanning over 71 films, Nanda worked with a range of co-stars from rank newcomers to the biggest stars, and boldly chose roles that exploited her histrionic talents, no matter whether the role was small or the lead.

At the age of 75, veteran actress Nanda passed away March 25, 2014 in Mumbai, following a heart attack.

Allah Tero Naam Ishwar Tero Naam (Hum Dono, 1961)

In Hum Dono, the superhit Navketan production, Nanda earned a bigger role as a parallel lead to Dev Anand apart from Sadhana, than the earlier Navketan production Kala Bazar, 1960 where she played a smaller cameo. Despite the smaller space, she shone through with the same kind of intensity in another heart-touching bhajan sung by Geeta Dutt and Sudha Malhotra.

Na main dhan chahoon na ratan chaahun (Kala Bazar, 1960)

Nanda, the daughter of the successful Marathi actor-director Master Vinayak, came into the film industry as a child artist ‘Baby Nanda’ when her family fell into hard times following the demise of her father. Her paternal uncle V Shantaram gave her first big break in Toofan Aur Diya, 1956.

Nirbal se ladayi balwan ki (Toofan Aur Diya, 1956)

In the following year, she featured in another big hit Bhabhi (1957), and was nominated for the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress award.

In 1959, Chhoti Bahen saw her shine in another brother-sister saga and the song Bhaiya mere rakhi ke bandhan ko nibhana, became synonymous with the festival of Rakshabandhan for times to come.

Bhaiya mere rakhi ke bandhan ko nibhana, (Chhoti Bahen, 1959)

The success of these films put her into the frontline with the lead actresses of the era. The war and sacrifice saga Usne Kaha Tha (1960), directed by Moni Bhattacharjee had Nanda starring opposite Sunil Dutt. The film was not a box office success but its songs composed by Salil Chowdhury became very popular. The effervescent Nanda running through the fields in Machalti aarzoo captured her innocent, youthful exuberance brilliantly.

Machalti aarzoo (Usne Kaha Tha, 1960)

B R Chopra’s suspense thriller Kanoon (1960) was a pathbreaking film, a bold attempt to create a whodunnit without songs. Although the focus in Kanoon stayed on the male leads, Nanda’s role did not go unnoticed.

Some of her films became especially known for their timeless music such as the love story in the backdrop of war Hum Dono (1961) and the musical Teen Deviyan (1965) (both opposite Dev Anand), Aaj Aur Kal (1963), Kaise Kahoon (1964) to name a few.

Manmohan man mein ho tumhi (Kaise Kahoon, 1964)

Nanda’s pairing with Shashi Kapoor created some cute and touching romantic films as both exuded a certain impish innocence — sample films like  Char Diwari (1961), Mehndi Lagi Mere Haath (1962) and Mohabbat Isko Kahete Hain (1965). The pair created the superhit Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965) and went on to do a few more films together including Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare (1966), Juari (1968), Raja Saab (1969) and Rootha Na Karo (1970).

Jab Jab Phool Khile made Nanda shed her traditional image and take on an ultra-modern western look that became very popular. The leisurely Lata Mangeshkar number “Yeh samaa” where Nanda gyrates alone in a romantic mood as a moonstruck Shashi Kapoor watches surreptitiously amid the mystic locales of Kashmir went on to become an evergreen romantic hit and one of the best compositions of Kalyanji Anandji.

Yeh samaa (Jab Jab Phool Khile,1965)

Apart from Shashi Kapoor, Nanda also formed successful on screen pairing with Rajesh Khanna.

With Rajesh Khanna she starred in the suspense thrillers The Train and Ittefaq (1969) and the light comedy Joroo Ka Ghulam. In fact, Nanda is perhaps the only actress to have starred in two films of Bollywood that had no songs – Kanoon and Ittefaq, both being murder mysteries. Interestingly, Nanda repertoire does include a number of suspense films, one of the best known being Gumnaam (opposite Manoj Kumar).

Nanda – a classic mix of innocence and charm

In Manoj Kumar’s Shor (1972), Nanda had a small role but it became just as well-known as the lead role played by Jaya Bhaduri, thanks to the superhit number “Ik pyaar ka nagma hai”. Picturised on a windswept beach, with mirrored shots, this Laxmikant-Pyarelal tune sung mellifluously by Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh became the theme song of Shor.

In the later years, Nanda did a few films including Ahista Ahista, Mazdoor and Raj Kapoor’s Prem Rog. Despite her advancing years, her elegance and dignity sparkled even in the ‘mother’ roles, overshadowing the lead actress Padmini Kolhapure.

A private person who never married, Nanda cherished her close friendship with Waheeda Rehman, a relationship they had struck during their first film together Kala Bazar and maintained diligently through the decades. Asha Parekh, Helen and Saira Banu were her other close friends in the industry.

Remembering the Legendary Actresses of Hindi Films

Adieu Sadhana

No One Quite Like Her –  The Inimitable Meena Kumari

Nargis and Raj Kapoor – Redefining Dreams, Aspirations and Romance

Rahe Na Rahe Hum: ‘Mahanayika’ Suchitra Sen’s Aura Lingers On…

Waheeda Rehman: Quintessential Beauty with Intense Acting Prowess

Suraiya: The Last Singing Star of Indian Cinema

Creative Writing

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Editor in Chief, Learning and Creativity; Consulting Editor, Silhouette Magazine. A former business journalist, Antara writes extensively on the changing trends of music, direction and filmmaking in cinema. Her articles aim to provide well-researched information on the legends of cinema for the movie and music enthusiast. She is also the Founder-Editor of Blue Pencil, a New Delhi-based publishing house. She edited and published Incomparable Sachin Dev Burman, the biography of SD Burman written by HQ Chowdhury. She has co-authored a chapter on Hemant Kumar's Bengali music in the acclaimed book The Unforgettable Music of Hemant Kumar, written by Manek Premchand. Her articles have also been published in and Antara is Editor-Creative Director of Wisitech InfoSolutions Pvt. Ltd.
All Posts of Antara Nanda Mondal

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