Cinema

My First Break: Tanuja

Actor Tanuja. Photo: Anu Pushkarna  

How it happened

I started as a child artiste in “Hamari Beti” along with my elder sister Nutan in the early '50s. We again starred together in “Chhabili” which was directed by our mother Shobhana Samarth. “Chhabili” had Nutan as the heroine opposite Karan Diwan and the major part of the film was shot on a ship. I remember I had to perform a couple of scenes in the disguise of a teddy bear and was very excited about it.

How it felt

Frankly speaking, I never took acting so seriously as Nutan did. So, it didn't affect me much initially. She was a mature and versatile actress far ahead of me. I was casual, fun loving and this nature of mine was reflected in my performances. Kidar Sharma, a master director of the '40s and '50s, noticed my talent and it is in his film, “Hamari Yaad Ayegi” I was truly noticed as an actress of merit. I still remember I simply could not lip the duet “Sochta Hoon Yeh Kya Kiya Maine”. Kidar Sharma never lost patience and after five takes, he did extract the right performance from me. He personally felt I was the real gifted actress he worked with after Nargis and Geeta Bali. I must confess I followed Geeta Bali's line of acting and never believed in curtailing my spontaneity whilst performing.

How life changed

Since I was not as ambitious as Nutan, I opted for roles that required more spontaneity and not serious ones. So, I acted in umpteen films like “Bhoot Bangla”, “Jewel Thief”, “Izzat”, “Haathi Mere Saathi” and “Imtihan”. Many of my films were hits. Yet, my most satisfactory performances are in “Anubhav” and “Masoom” where I performed a well written cameo. After Kidar Sharma, Vijay Anand, Basu Bhatacharya and Shekhar Kapoor got the best out of me as an actress.

I consider my Bengali films with Uttam Kumar and Soumitra Chatterjee, like “Antony Firingee”, “Teen Bhubaner Pare”, etc. better than my Hindi films, as Bengali films those days were subject-oriented and had well written scripts. My best film, of course, is Tapan Sinha's “Adalat O Ekti Meye”. Today, I am satisfied with whatever I got in my career.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 1:40:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/My-First-Break-Tanuja/article16214400.ece

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