Cinema

My First Break: NANDA

Nanda. Photo: Special Arrangement  

How it happened

Though I came from a family of actors, our middle class home did not encourage a filmy atmosphere. My father, Master Vinayak was an honest actor and taught us to educate ourselves first and then worship work.

He never gave prominence to typical film-related manners and that helped us to remain in touch with grassroots. I received my first break as an actress in “Toofan Aur Diya”, produced and directed by V. Shantaram. I consider myself very lucky to be a discovery of such a gifted director.

How it felt

“Toofan Aur Diya” was a social story about an idealist school teacher, played to perfection by Rajendra Kumar. In my first shot, I had to blush, look shyly at my hero and use my eyebrows with a rhythm to convey a soft emotion. I had to give a number of takes and Dr. Shantaram canned the fourth take with rare efficiency.

In the '50s, working in films was not exactly looked up to with respect by traditional families. Dr. Shantaram felt I seeped with emotions and advised me to concentrate more on my histrionics than looks. According to him, I had the true potential to make it as an actress of substance.

How life changed

“Toofan Aur Diya” was a moderate success but I was noticed by the likes of B.R. Chopra and Dev Anand. B.R. Chopra cast me in small but meaningful characters opposite Rajendra Kumar, a dignified and intense actor, in “Dhool Ka Phool” and “Kanoon”.

“Dhool Ka Phool” was directed by B.R. Chopra's younger brother, Yash Chopra and during the shooting I developed a good rapport with leading lady Mala Sinha.

“Chhoti Bahen” and the song I lipped, “Bhaiya Mere Rakhi Ke Din Na Bhulana”, turned me into a household name and I received many fan letters addressing me as sister.

Dev Anand also cast me as his sister in “Kala Bazar”. He kept his promise of casting me as a heroine in “Hum Dono” and personally complimented me, shaking my hand after the shot in which I have the pleasure of seeing my husband return and faint. He felt it was the best shot in the film. Both “Kala Bazar” and “Hum Dono” were brilliantly scripted and directed by Vijay Anand.

As told to RANJAN DAS GUPTA


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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 12:10:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/My-First-Break-NANDA/article15577812.ece

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