Breaking her silence

As she turns 84, veteran actor Kalpana Kartik emerges from her self-imposed exile to talk about her directors, life and Dev Anand

August 18, 2015 03:18 pm | Updated March 29, 2016 04:00 pm IST - Chennai

Kalpana Kartik

Kalpana Kartik

She ruled the marquee back in the 1950s with films like Bazi, Aandhiyan, Taxi Driver, House No. 44 and Nau Do Gyarah . But for the last five decades, actor Kalpana Kartik went into a self-imposed exile. The only living member of the Navketan family, which ruled Indian cinema in the 50s, 60s and early 70s, the actor and Dev Anand’s wife turns 84 today. A beauty queen from St. Bede’s College, Shimla, her actual name is Mona Singha.

The actor, who has fond memories of her career, says, “I was christened Kalpana Kartik by Chetan Anand. This is his centenary year.” She goes on to add, “He never made me feel like a new comer while directing me. I still remember shooting for a scene in Taxi Driver , where I was disguised as a man and working as a car cleaner. My character gets into a row with the other car cleaners and I had to run for my life while being followed by Johny Walker. It was such a lovely and natural scene with a comic touch.”

She has high regards for all her directors. “Guru Dutt, who made his directorial debut with Bazi, was the captain of the entire crew. Mandi Burman was truly co-operative. I still get in touch with him when I visit USA. Vijay Anand was imaginative and modern,” she says, adding, “I am grief struck to learn that Sheila Ramani is no more. She had made her debut in Taxi Driver six decades ago. We did not have many scenes together, but I remember her as a spontaneous actress bubbling with enthusiasm on the sets. She had a beautiful smile and lip synced the climax song Aye Meri Zindagi so well.”

Recalling her life with her husband and actor Dev Anand, Kalpana is silent for a moment, before she says, “Dev had a truly colourful personality. As an actor he had a unique style. When he exposed his true inner self, he performed superbly. Chetan saab rightly said that Dev had smiling eyes.”While the arc lights do not attract her anymore, Kalpana Kartik carries on with her life quietly but confidently. She says, “I have learnt from my experiences to face life as it is without making a hue or cry. I am content with whatever the Almighty has bestowed on me.”

As a mother and grandmother, Kalpana Kartik is very fond of son Suneil, daughter Devina and granddaughter Gina. She confesses, “They are my jigar ka tukras . I am also fond of my nephew Kunki, the elder son of Chetan Anand.”How has life been for her after the sad demise of Dev Anand? Kalpana Kartik sighs, “He was a really caring husband and father. People feel we separated, but that is absolutely false. Dev is very much in my heart even today, smiling and guiding me as only he can. I just cannot believe that he is no more. To me he is always Dev Anand my husband, right from our midnight marriage on the sets of Taxi Driver in 1954.”

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