Sadhna worked wonders
RANJAN DAS GUPTA
Remembering Sadhna, the lady who made many a heart quiver with her stunning screen presence in the ’60s.
Classic! Sadhna in Bimal Roy’s "Prem Patra".
Recently talking about earlier actresses, Tabu said, “One actress I will never forget is Sadhna. She was the ideal combination of innocence, beauty and intelligence. I will always remember her as a haunting actress in ‘Parakh’, ‘Hum Dono’ and ‘Woh Kaun Thi’. Her dialogue delivery was really sweet with inimitable modulations.” The same view is endorsed by Vidya Balan.
Sadhna is a name unknown to today’s fast food generation who think the ultimate divas are the Aishwarya Rais, Rani Mukerjis and Bipasha Basus. It has no idea about what a glorious past Indian cinema had and how prestigious is Sadhna’s contribution to films.
Once in 1958, Dev Anand was on a visit to Filmalaya Studio. At the Filmalaya acting school he came across a bubbling, spontaneous young girl with highly expressive eyes and a beautiful smile. Dev Anand personally walked up to her and complimented her saying, “You are a very pretty girl. You will make it really big as an actress.” His prediction was true as Sadhna indeed became the reigning queen of the swinging ‘60s.
Sadhna was introduced to films with “Love In Shimla” opposite Joy Mukherji and directed by R.K. Nayar, who later became her husband. With Raj Khosla’s “Ek Musafir Ek Hasina”, Sadhna sky rocketed to fame and never looked back. She remembers, “I had high ambitions of making it as an actress. I knew I would face stiff competition from stalwarts like Meena Kumari, Nutan, Waheeda Rahman and Nanda. I lovingly accepted the challenge of proving my worth as an actress.”
Films like “Hum Dono”, “Prem Patra” and “Parakh” followed. Bimal Ray’s X-ray eyes noticed the rare talent in Sadhna and he rightly cast her in “Parakh” and “Prem Patra”.
Sadhna remembers, “If there was any actress I modelled myself in the lines of it was the versatile Nutan in ‘Seema’, ‘Sujata’ and ‘Bandini’. ‘Parakh’ was a film where I really followed Nutan.”
Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Vijay Anand, H.S. Rawail and Raj Khosla worked wonders with Sadhna in umpteen hits. She proved to be the most talented amongst her contemporaries Saira Banu and Asha Parekh. The three still maintain very cordial relations. Sadhna proved her acting prowess with films like “Hum Dono” and “Asli Naqli”. She achieved histrionic peaks with the Muslim social “Mere Mehboob” where she combined romance and emotions with rare ability. It was Raj Khosla with whom she used to vibe the best.
Raj Khosla always said, “I was inspired with the double role factor noticing Sadhna’s ability to adapt to any character. So I cast her in the same mould but with different angles in ‘Woh Kaun Thi’. She came out with resounding success in each. No other actress had the charisma she possessed.” Sadhna also did her hair style in the Audrey Hepburn fringe manner and it became a rage. She was equally comfortable and attractive in Indian as well as western outfits.
Sadhna considers Rajendra Kumar, Shammi Kapoor and Sunil Dutt her favourite co-stars. With Dev Anand she was a super hit pair. Her pairing with Raj Kapoor in “Dulha Dulhan” was not well accepted. She of course formed a formidable pair with Manoj Kumar and Shashi Kapoor. Some of her other memorable hits include “Aarzoo”, “Raj Kumar”, “Budtamiz” and “Ishq Par Zor Nahin” with Dharmendra and Biswajit. Her most successful commercial venture was “Waqt” in 1965.
In the early ‘70s as a new generation of actresses like Sharmila Tagore, Hema Malini and Rakhee came up, Sadhna understood she had had her innings. Besides a critical eye problem was troubling her. She admits, “After a few films like ‘Anjana’ and ‘Dil Daulat Duniya’, I attempted a directional venture with Sunil Dutt and Feroz Khan and myself, ‘Geeta Mera Naam’. A big hit the film brought back Sunil Dutt to the limelight. But I understood, I should step down with dignity.”
The heroine who still gives goose pimples to countless viewers as she lips “Kaise Rahun Chup” in the raging hit “Inteqam” slowly opted for a simple family life with husband R.K. Nayar. They never mingled much with the film fraternity of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Sadhna directed another film with Sudha Chandran and Dimple Kapadia in 1989 before permanently becoming a recluse. The last time one saw her was at Mehboob Studio on 17th June, 1991 where she came to attend the condolence meeting of her favourite director Raj Khosla. After R.K. Nayar’s expired, Sadhna even moved away from her Carter Road bungalow. Now she leads a silent content life full of sweet memories of the past. As her masterpiece “Hum Dono” gets coloured she smiles and comments, “No, I will never come in public eye for this event but will definitely watch the film in colour to view how Dev, Nanda, myself and the entire film appears.”
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