Friday Review

Star of the black and white era

Kishore Kumar and Nutan in film "Delhi Ka Thug".   | Photo Credit: HINDU PHOTO ARCHIVES

Nutan was shooting the climax of ‘Manzil’ with Dev Anand, directed by Mandi Burman. In the scene, during a verbal conflict she was required to break down . As Dev Anand said, “ Kasoor mera tha” (It was my fault), Nutan reacted with a tearful look. She was so natural and convincing that Mandi Burman canned the shot in one take. Dev Anand shook hands and congratulated her after the shot.

Nutan was the eldest daughter of Kumarsen and Shobana Samarth. Educated in Europe, she imbibed the influences of both Indian and Western cultures. Tall and elegant, she was a photographer’s delight. According to late Subrata Mitra, a cinematographer acclaimed for his work in Satyajit Ray’s Apu trilogy, Nutan appeared photogenic from every angle. Nutan became an icon on a par with Meena Kumari, Nargis and Geeta Bali.

Nutan started her career in ‘Hamari Beti’ along with younger sister Tanuja. Films such as ‘Baarish,’ ‘Paying Guest,’ ‘Anari’ and ‘Chalia’ established her as a top actress. In ‘Seema,’ ‘Sone ki chidiya,’ ‘Sujata’ and ‘Bandini,’ she showcased her acting prowess. Nutan also had a good rapport with directors such as Amiya Chakraborty and Bimal Roy.

During the shooting of ‘Sujata,’ Nutan had problems inunderstanding the continuity of an important scene. So she asked screenplay writer Nabendu Ghosh about the sequence. Ghosh’s detailed explanation and the Bimal Roy touch resulted in Nutan using her eyes to convey the emotion.

Though popular as the ‘Queen of emotions,’ she was equally effective in breezy musicals and comedies such as ‘Dilli ka thug,’ ‘Dil hi to hai’ and ‘Tere ghar ke samne.’ She had acted with a number of male stars including Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Ashok Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra.

By mid-1970s, Nutan had shifted to mature characters that suited her age. Her performances in ‘Anuraag’ and ‘Saudagar’ were memorable. Her hero of ‘Saudagar,’ Amitabh Bachhan still cherishes the opportunity that he got to act with her. In Raj Khosla’s ‘Main Tulsi teri angan ki,’ she was at her emotive best opposite Vijay Anand and Asha Parekh. In the 1980s, of all the films she did, ‘Kasturi’ stood out.

Nutan was a gifted singer and brilliantly rendered the number ‘Aye mere humsafar’ in ‘Chabilee’ and also sang in ‘Mayuri.’

A recluse, she was sometimes moody and unpredictable. She even had a legal conflict with her mother and Tanuja over a property that was later resolved amicably. A generous person, she often went out of her way to help people in need. She was popular among technicians. Nutan, one of the finest actresses of Hindi cinema, passed away on February 20, 1991. Twenty five years after her death, Hindi cinema lovers still cannot forget that beautiful smile and expressive eyes that lit up the screen.

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Printable version | Jul 23, 2021 8:12:57 AM |

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