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The Gorgeous Style Icon Sadhana

September 2, 2016 | By

Some of the most enchanting, lilting, melodious, memorable songs are associated intrinsically with the gorgeous style icon Sadhana. A tribute to the renowned star.

Sadhna in Asli Naqli

Sadhana Shivdasani (2 September 1941 – 25 December 2015

Sadhana was easily one of those heroines who could act to the demands of the role leaving a lasting impression and at the same time mesmerize her audience by her looks. Glamour and simplicity, were both her strong points. A village girl, a ghagra swinging desi dancer, a high society educated simple or fashionable woman, she could carry all with ease and conviction.

She married R K Nayyar, who was the first to direct her in Love In Simla in 1960. Produced by Sashdhar Mukherji, starring son, Joy Mukherji, the film set out a transformation of Sadhana into an Indianized Audrey Hepburn, with the hair cut and eye and lips make up and all. From this first outing itself, Sadhana became a fashion icon on Indian screen. A rare feat, she carried it with confidence and success almost all her career.

Sadhana in Arzoo

One of the finest posters of its time, the Arzoo designed by the legendary Diwakar Karkare.

Some of the most enchanting, lilting, melodious, memorable songs are attached to her memory for film goers.

In her very first year in the industry, Sadhana was truly fortunate to have one of the genius directors, Bimal Roy sign her for Parakh (1960). She came to learn some of the finest performance skills that stayed with her all along. Here in Parakh she came about as a simple and convincing small town girl, a post master’s daughter, opposite Vasant Choudhury, the handsome Bengal actor, who never could make it in Hindi films. With music by Salil Chowdhury and lyrics by Shailendra, vocals by Lata, here we start with our musical tribute.

O sajna barkha bahaar aai (Parakh, 1960) – Salil Chowdhury / Shailendra / Lata Mangeshkar

Her pairing with reigning super star of the day, Dev Anand boosted her career and pitchforked Sadhana to the top league. In one of the most memorable films of all times, Hum Dono was shadow directed by Vijay Anand and had excellent music by Jaidev with lyrical support from Sahir. Her role and acting were the talk of the town, so to say, and was appreciated. Whenever one thinks of Sadhana, this song  is sure to come up in our imagination, with lighter, ribbon, lake side and Dev Anand.

Abhi na jao chhod kar (Hum Dono, 1961) – Jaidev / Sahir Ludhianvi / Mohd. Rafi, Asha Bhonsle

Another talented director to sign Sadhana in her early years, from the Bimal Roy school of cinema was Hrishikesh Mukherji. Asli Naqli in 1962 was once more a simple middle class woman’s role opposite super star Dev Anand again, with hit music by Shankar Jaikishan.

Sadhana emoted so very well and performed with ease and elegance. Confidence had now settled into her as her second nature showing off in all the roles she was accepting. She was in competition with Bengal’s famed actress Sandhya Roy in this film (who also had some great scenes and dialogues). But nothing to worry, Sadhana came out super successful.

Tera mera pyar amar (Asli Naqli, 1963) – Shankar Jaikishan / Shailendra / Lata Mangeshkar

Bear with me if you feel that I am repeating the simpleton Sadhana too often without moving on to some glamour and excitement. But this Madan Mohan beauty by Lata Mangeshkar is one of her all time elated memories and cannot be ignored.

Man Mauji from AVM’s banner and directed by Krishnan-Panju in 1962 had her put up a brilliant performance against another hit hero of the time and day, Kishore Kumar. And, which actress would not say this in exasperation to the irrepressible Kishore, Main to tum sang nain mila ke haar gai sajna.

Main to tum sang nain mila kar (Manmauji, 1962) – Madan Mohan / Rajinder Krishan / Lata Mangeshkar

Madan Mohan did not stop at this, he created some extremely melodious compositions for her in the next few films as well.

Madan Mohan and Sadhana

Madan Mohan and Sadhana sharing a light-hearted moment.

If one is asked to choose one song that goes with the ever lasting memory of Sadhana, I am sure the majority votes would go to, Lag jaa gale ke phir ye hasin raat ho na ho, from Woh Kaun Thi, sung superbly by Lata and written wonderfully by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan.

Woh Kaun Thi was her second venture with director Raj Khosla. It was her first double role with many more to come. A crime, suspense film with out of this world music by Madan Mohan that remains a hit even today. Other hits here include, Naina barse rimjhim rimjhim and Jo humne daastan apni sunayi aap kyon roye.

Lag jaa gale ke phir ye hasin raat ho na ho (Woh Kaun Thi, 1964) – Madan Mohan / Raja Mehdi Ali Khan / Lata Mangeshkar

Earlier, Sadhana had the honour of doing a second film for producer Sashdhar Mukerjii and with her first hero Joy Mukherji with another superlative musical score by O P Nayyar. The film was designed after the songs were selected and Raj Khosla had a tough time bringing together a story content in Ek Musafir Ek Hasina. The movie worked at the box office or not, the songs are hit to date.

Bahut shukriya badi meherbani meri zindagi mein huzoor aap aaye;

Aap yun hi agar humse milte rahe dekhiye ek din pyar ho jayega;

Zaban-e-yaar man turki, va man turki na mee janum;

The evergreen music and songs, Sadhana and her beauty and Fali Mistry and his masterful craftsmanship made Ek Musafir Ek Haseena memorable.

The evergreen music and songs, Sadhana and her beauty and Fali Mistry and his masterful craftsmanship made Ek Musafir Ek Haseena memorable.

Mujhe dekh kar aapka muskarana mohabbat nahun hai to phir aur kya hai;

Main pyar ka raahi hoon teri zulf ke saye mein…

Each one of these songs is a gem of a hummable melody.

Let us go with Zuban-e-yaar man turki, only for Sadhana’s multiple look and convincing portrayal and Shevan Rizvi’s lyrics that made each fan quote, Main to har ik ada ko ankhon se choom lunga

Teri talash mujhko… Zaban-e-yaar man turki (Ek Musafir Ek Hasina, 1962) – OP Nayyar / Shevan Rizvi / Mohd. Rafi, Asha Bhosle

Mere Mehboob by director Harnam Singh Rawail was Sadhana’s first color film, a test of her on screen black and white beauty till now, that mesmerized the audience in full effect in color.


We see only those, do haseen nashili ankhen, that pierce through his heart, with her face covered in hijaab

Breathtaking, is the right expression, where the hero bumps into her and we see only those, do haseen nashili ankhen, that pierce through his heart, with her face covered in hijaab. It was said at that time that no other heroine would have been so pretty and impressive. It was a massive hit and Naushad scored one of his life’s best music.

I had a senior friend who was in college when Mere Mehboob was released, admitted to have seen the film some 32 times in theatre. Upon release of its DVD he has now probably crossed a century in viewing. The film had one of the best ever composed female singers’ duet, by Asha and Lata on Ameeta and Sadhana, Mere mehboob mein kya nahin, kya nahi. The other title tandem, Mere mehboob tujhe meri mohabbat ki kasam, was a massive hit. But let us go with the one that made this friend go to theatre 32 times. By Shakeel Badayuni, rendered by Lata, Tere pyar mein dildaar jo hai mere hale zaar.

Tere pyar mein dildaar jo hai mera hale zaar (Mere Mehboob, 1963) – Naushad / Shakeel Badayuni / Lata Mangeshkar

Rajkumar and then Waqt were her other two magnum opus in color in close succession. The only film she acted with Raj Kapoor in, Ravindra Dave’s Dulha Dulhan, with music by Kalyanji Anandji did not fare well at the box office.


Waqt was a massive hit, and gave Sadhana another chance to show her glamorous side and stand on her feet among so many other stars.

Rajkumar was directed by K. Shankar from south and paired Sadhana with another super hit star, Shammi Kapoor for the first time. With Shanker Jaikishen’s music, the film registered a massive hit in 1964. K. Shankar repeated the team in Sachhai (1969) and Chhote Sarkar (1974), but could not see the same success.

Rajkumar was a lavish production and rewarded Sadhana with a glossy and glamorous role in which she shone like a full moon. Her intro song with water lilies and a team of dancers, written by Shailendra and sung by Lata and chorus, Aaaja aai bahar, dil hai bekarar, is the one I will go with. Other hits in the film were, Tumne pukara aur hum chale aaye by Suman and Rafi, and Dilruba dil pe tu ye situm kiye jaa by Asha and Rafi.

Aaja aai bahar, dil hai bekaraar (Rajkumar, 1964) – Shankar Jaikishan / Shailendra / Lata Mangeshkar

Waqt was our first multi-starrer on a large canvas with large production design and values. It was a massive hit, and gave Sadhana another chance to show her glamorous side and stand on her feet among so many other stars. B R Chopra’s production and Yash Chopra’s direction were laudable and the film remains watchable even today.

Some industry insiders have shared with me that Sadhana was professionalism personified. She had a keen sense of the script and a clear idea about her costumes and dialogues, the budget of the film and its chances at the box office. From among 29 of the Hindi films she acted in more than 18 were box office hits that showed her keen understanding of the business. Among the ones that did not fare well, were some projects that kept getting delayed and thus became outdated for various reasons. No wonder she set to direct a film on her own when not many female directors were there.

Music by Ravi, lyrics by Sahir and evocative rendering by Asha, from Waqt, let us enjoy this number.

Kaun aya ke nigahon mein chamak jag uthi (Waqt, 1965) – Ravi / Sahir Ludhianvi / Asha Bhosle

As if these massive hits were not enough, Sadhana gave another resounding Shanker Jaikishen hit through Ramanand Sagar in 1965, Aarzoo. She was numero uno heroine of Bombay at this time in her career. Starring the Jubilee Kumar, Rajendra Kumar the film had some of Jaikishen’s brightest score.

Ae nargise mastana bas itni shikayat hai, Ae phulon ki rani baharon ki malika tera muskurana ghazab ho gaya; Chhalke teri ankhon se sharab aur jyada and Aji humse bach kar kahan jaiyega jahan jaiyega humen paaiyega, all four hits by Rafi. Lata’s tandem part, Aji rooth kar ab kahan jaaiyega and Bedardi balma tujhko mera man yaad karta hai. All written by Hasrat.

Bedardi balma tujhko mera man yaad karta hai (Aarzoo, 1965) – Shankar Jaikishan / Hasrat Jaipuri / Lata Mangeshkar

Music Director Madan Mohan and Sadhana

Tu jahaan jahaan chalega, mera saaya saath hoga – Madan Mohan and Sadhana. The songs of Mera Saaya are par excellence.

Renowned designer Bhanu Athaiya did the costumes for Sadhana in Arzoo and it set many fashion trends. Not only was Sadhana known for her Sadhana cut hair style but was also followed for her dresses, sarees and salwar kameez (churidaars, as they were known then).

The year 1966 saw her give another Madan Mohan / Raj Khosla hit in Mera Saaya. Another double role and massively hit songs in a box-office blockbuster. She was convincing in both roles – as the innocent wife of the rich lawyer and as the unscrupulous bandit. She carried the film on her shoulders as the earlier Woh Kaun Thi had. The film remains watchable owing to its music, deft direction and the leading lady, Sadhana.

Madan Mohan had used this tune in 1958 Khazanchi, Ankhon ankhon mein ho gaye mast ishare by Asha. He re-worked it for a more polished Lata delivery and registered an all-time hit in Naino wali ne hai mera dil loota. The title song, Tu jahan jahan chalega mera saaya saath hoga and Naino mein badra chhaye by Lata were hits as well. As was Rafi’s Aapke pehlu mein aake ro diye. Another massive hit, to date, is the Asha number, Jhumka gira re, Bareily ke bazaar mein.

Naino mein badra chhaye, bijli si chamke haye (Mera Saaya, 1966) – Madan Mohan / Raja Mehdi Ali Khan / Lata Mangeshkar

Two more 1966 films were not as big a hit. With Shammi Kapoor in Manmohan Desai’s Budtameez and with Sunil Dutt in Hrishikesh Mukherji’s Gaban. Both had music by Shanker Jiakishen. Budtameez fared better at the box office.

Gaban, based on Munshi Premchand story was produced by Calcutta based B N Sonthalia and R K Soral and was given to Krishan Chopra to direct. Earlier Chopra had done films like, Heera Moti and Char Diwari. But less than half way through, Krishan Chopra died. Hrishikesh Mukherjee then had to step in and take charge.

One duet by Lata and Rafi is my favourite from the film. Written by Shailendra, it goes, Tum bin sajan, barse nayan, jab jab badal barse. De-glamorized, black and white, classic story back ground, but all her beauty, prettiness, innocence and elegance are well maintained. One of those forgotten gems, let us listen to this.

Tum bin sajan barse nayan, jab jab badal barse (Gaban, 1966) – Shankar Jaikishan / Shailendra / Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar

For Raj Khosla, as if it was not enough to present Sadhana in two double role movies, he produced and directed Anita with a triple role for Sadhana, repeating Manoj Kumar as her hero. The audience could not relate with Khosla and thus the film with some nice songs by Laxmikant Pyarelal, flopped.

Main dekhun jis ore sakhi ri, samne mere sanwariya; Kaise karun prem ki main baat, na baba na baba pichhwade buddha khansta, both by Lata. Two by Mukesh were also hits, Tum bin jeevan kaise beeta, puchho mere dil se and Gore gore chand se much par kali kali ankhen hain.

Next box office success for Sadhana came with husband, R K Nayyar’s home production in 1969, Inteqam. Starring Sanjay (Khan) and with music by Laxmikant Pyarelal, it was a bolder role for Sadhana, where she is an avenger. The film rested on her shoulders and she did see it through with élan.

Kaise rahun chup ke maine pee hi kya hai, hosh abhi tak hain baki (Inteqam, 1969) – Laxmikant Pyarelal / Rajinder Krishan / Lata Mangeshkar

Ramesh Saigal in early sixties wrote this story and wanted to make it with Sadhana in the lead and in color. But color negatives were very expensive and he is on paper stating that no film earlier to his project had done full justice to Sadhana’s beauty. Unfortunately, the plot was picked by someone else and another film with his story and his hero got made and released. He now had to wait for sometime or the film would certainly fail.

Ishq Par Zor Nahin is almost like a painting on canvas.

Ishq Par Zor Nahin is almost like a painting on canvas.

Next, the very beautiful Sadhana developed eye trouble and had to go for surgeries abroad. Another delay. Finally, Saigal completed the film, Ishq Par Zor Nahin and released it in 1970, some eight years in the waiting. The film is almost like a painting on canvas and trust Saigal’s words, even the very beautiful Sadhana had never looked more stunning and pretty and elegant and graceful and innocent as she does in his film. Co-stars were Dharmendra and Biswajit.

The film sadly had a mediocre run, as happens with all delayed projects. Mughl-E-Azam being the only exception. But it boasted of superlative music by Dada Sachin Dev Burman in his first outing with Anand Bakshi. The songs are evergreen, remembered fondly even today and quoted by other music maestros as landmark creations. Yeh dil diwana hai, dil to diwana hai, diwana dil hai ye, dil diwana by Lata and Rafi; Mehbooba teri tasveer kis tarah main banaun by Rafi. Main tere rang raati, main tere rang raati, mere mitwa mere saathi; Sach kehti hai duniya ishaq par zor nahin; O mere bairagi bhanwara mujhe tadpana na and my absolute favourite, Tum mujhse door chale jana na, main tum se door chali jaungi, all four by Lata and Asha’s Pyar bhari ik baat chali, armanon ki baraat chali, were all popular and praised.

O mere bairagi bhanwara mujhe tadpao na, kali ke chhote se dil ko (Ishq Par Zor Nahin, 1970) – Sachin Dev Burman / Anand Bakshi / Lata Mangeshkar

Ek Phool Do Mali by Devendra Goel was also a hit a year earlier. Again teamed with Sanjay it had music by Ravi. Ye parda hata do, zara mukhda dikha do by Asha and Rafi and Sajna sajna o sajna, tere pyar mein main gain kho sajna by Asha, written by Prem Dhawan were popular.

Laxmikant Pyarelal Lata Mangeshkar Sadhna and Raj Khosla (Anita)

Music director Laxmikant Pyarelal, Lata Mangeshkar Sadhana and Raj Khosla (Anita, 1967)
(Pic: Pakanati Lakshmi Priya of Old Is Gold FB Group)

Sadhana went on to direct a film that took a heavy toll on her health and affected her career as well. The film did not do well, Geeta Mera Naam was her fourth double role film. Sunil Dutt walked away with acting accolades and it brought him a few similar action films as well. The music by Laxmikant Pyarelal was mediocre. Lahu ko lahu pukarega, by Rafi was the only song that caught the audience fancy to an extent. By this time also, her eye trouble had increased and age was catching up and so was the skin’s reaction to grease paint and make up. The direction did show signs of able and competent handling, but public did not approve of it.

Prem Narayan Arora or P N Arora of All India Pictures signed Sadhana to play Rajesh Khanna’s heroine in Dil Daulat Duniya (1972). Her pairing with younger Sanjay was accepted by the public, but it did not work in case of Rajesh. Though peculiarly, her contemporary, Nanda made a successful pair with Rajesh. Who knows what works with box office, anyway?

Based on the Bengali movie, Sadanander Mela, Dil Daulat Duniya was a likeable light film. Arora’s real life partner, Helen had a good role and looks very nice, as always. Music was by Shankar Jaikishan and a couple of songs were popular. My choice is Kishore Kumar’s Saath mein pyara saathi hai, raat bhi ye madmati hai, written by Shaily Shailendra.

Saath mein pyara saathi hai (Dil Daulat Duniya, 1972) – Shankar Jaikishan / Shaily Shailendra / Kishore Kumar

Another delayed release was Shatrujit Pal’s Amaanat, co-starring Manoj Kumar, released on 31st Dec. 1975, also carried that dated look. The songs had been released much earlier and two Rafi songs, Door reh kar na karo baat karee baa jao, and Matlab nikal gaya hai to pehchante nahin, were popular. Written by Sahir they were set to tune by Ravi.

Vandana also in 1975, released in June, was co-starring Parikshit Sahani, directed by Narendra Suri and again had music by Ravi. Written by Anjaan and sung by Lata, Aap ki inayaten aap ke karam, aap hi batayen kaise bhulenge hum, can safely be called her swan song.

Aap ki inayaten aap ke karam, aap hi batayen kaise bhoolenge hum (Vandana, 1975) – Ravi / Anjaan / Lata Mangeshkar

The talented, beautiful and innocent Sadhana will always be remembered for her elegance, style and her ability to carry varied types of roles with ease and élan. From the soft innocence of the sari-clad village belle in O sajna, barkha bahaar aayi  to her electrifying dance number in Jhumka gira re, Sadhana will live on in the hearts of her fans.

Jhumka gira re, Bareily ke bazaar mein (Mera Saaya, 1966) – Madan Mohan / Raja Mehdi Ali Khan / Asha Bhosle

This extremely beautiful actress had bid goodbye to the silver screen long ago, way back in the seventies. She passed away on Christmas day of 2015, leaving behind melodious and beauty laden memories.

Sadhana’s fans continue to revisit her films and songs to enjoy her charming screen persona and spontaneous performances. On Lakshmi Priya‘s request we add a fun number from Love in Shimla, the film that made the famed “Sadhana cut” hairstyle a fashion trend.

Haseenon ki sawari hai (Love In Simla, 1960) – Iqbal Qureshi / Rajinder Krishan / Mohd Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur

Pictures of Madan Mohan and Sadhana used in this article are courtesy

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Consulting Editor Learning and Creativity and Silhouette Magazine. To talk of a few passions of Peeyush, one must start with music. He is known to be a collector of music and information pertaining to Indian cinema (majorly Hindi) spanning a period from early 1930s to 1980s. He has a large collection of Bengali and Punjabi music and material as well. He also boasts of a huge library of related material. Peeyush has delivered talks and lectures on music appreciation, contributed write ups in numerous news papers and magazines. He has co-authored a tribute publication on Anil Biswas. He has co-hosted radio talk shows on music and met and interviewed a number of personalities. Occasionally, he delivers talks even now. Peeyush has been the founder secretary of the prestigious, Vintage Hindi Music Lovers Association in Bangalore that honored Anil Biswas in 1985. He is known as a storehouse of old Hindi music and information regarding music and movies. Peeyush is well read in Vedic culture and literature and is invited in various centers to deliver enlightening lectures on Vedic values. His range spans from four Vedas to Upanishads and Darshans as well as Bhagvad Gita. He has delivered talks on Yog Darshan in Yoga schools and large gatherings. He currently lives in Oshawa, Ontario in Canada.
All Posts of Peeyush Sharma

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10 thoughts on “The Gorgeous Style Icon Sadhana

  • Lakshmi Priya

    Splendid tribute Peeyushji n written so lovingly. I fell in love with Sadhana when I accidentally bunked college and went to a friend’s house. She had a rented VCR of the film Love in Shimla. Indifferently I began seeing it and I fell head over heels in love with Sadhana the film and music too. A whole week I bunked college and saw that film in her house everyday. Later I got to see her other films too as u listed out above n many more. The absence of a Love in Shimla song is a huge deficit for me Peeyushji in your wonderful write up .

  • Lakshmi Priya

    M N Sardanaji thanx for ur info. U were there when these announcements were made n noticed their fates. What a memory you have. Even picnic with Guru Dutt film. Any idea why it was stalled ?

  • Lakshmi Priya

    Thank you Peeyushji for including the song from Love in Shimla . I am so happy. In the film Sadhana’s grandmother transforms her physical appearance. Chops her hair. Gets rid of the clunky glasses n through a puff of powder…her presto ! A future star was born ….most fave actress . Thanks once again .

  • Antara

    Lakshmi Priya,

    Your favourite Love in Shimla song has been added and the grave deficit is now hopefully covered up. 😀

    I completely agree with you, its a loving tribute to an actress who wowed a whole generation of movie lovers with her irresistible charm. 🙂

  • MN Sardana

    Lakshmi ji,

    As far as Picnic is concerned, my feeling is after the failure of Kaagaz Ke Phool,as we all know Guru Dutt lost his esteem & did not direct any movie. Thanks to M Sadiq whose Chaudhvin Ka Chaand gave a new lease of life to Guru Dutt’s Films. While the said movie gave financial strength to his company, the subsequent movie Sahib Bibi Ghulam, directed by Alvi Sahab, must have given him creative satisfaction.

    But due to domestic incompatibility with his better half, he tried to find salvation in drinking. It was during that phase, he announced & shot few movies like Gauri, which had Geeta Dutt as leading lady, Raaz, Picnic & even announced a movie based on an Arabian Nights story. But then he did not complete any of the movie. I suppose he became indecisive & had lost his creativity due to access of his alcohol consumption.

    With regards to Sadhana & Around The World, it is difficult why she was replaced with Raj Shree. If Sadhana Ji decided not to be a part of the silly movie, I commend her. She did the right thing

    1. Peeyush Sharma

      Sardana ji and Lakshmi ji,

      Like most of Guru Dutt’s shelved projects were made by other filmmakers, such as Raaz was made by Raj Khosla as Woh Kaun Thi and Professor was made by Lekh Tandon with the same title starring Shammi Kapoor. Picnic was also made, with the same title, by cameraman Dronacharya and with Jagdish Chadha in 1966, directed by Shahid Lateef, music by S. Mohinder, Story credits to Madhusudan Kelkar, Screenplay & dialogues by Krishan Chander.

      Interestingly, Anand Bakshi appeared on screen singing in Rafi’s voice, Bijli giri kahan se begaane ho gaye hum. (Written by Majrooh).

      Regards, Peeyush.

  • Firdos Khatoon

    Thank you so much for giving tribute to the most beautiful women i’ve seen in Indian industry. She looked so modern condidering her time. She could literally kill anyone with her innocent face, persona and style. There can be no one like her. RIP Sadhana ji

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