From lime­light to anonymity

Alive - - Contents - by A. C. Tuli

Once fallen from fame, the screen stars are for­got­ten by cinema lovers.

Then they live and of­ten die in soli­tude.

How fil­ial in­grat­i­tude and cal­lous­ness can make a par­ent’s life a painful bur­den in old age was re­cently brought to light when we read in news­pa­pers about the sad plight of the ail­ing yes­ter­year ac­tress Geeta Kapoor.

Aban­doned by her chore­og­ra­pher son, the weep­ing and dis­traught-look­ing Geeta

Kapoor had no one to pay the bills for her med­i­cal treat­ment in a hos­pi­tal of Mum­bai where she had been hos­pi­atlised for more than a month.

When the good Sa­mar­i­tans of the film in­dus­try, Ashok Pan­dit and Ramesh Tau­rani, came to know about Geeta Kapoor’s sad plight, they promptly rushed to her res­cue. Geeta Kapoor, who in her hey­days had ap­peared in sup­port­ing roles in films like Mughal-e-Azam, Pa­keezah, Razia Sultan, Pyar Kar Ke Dekho and a few oth­ers, is now re­cov­er­ing fast and has been shifted to an old age home in And­heri, where she can live peace­fully and well cared for.

Geeta Kapoor’s is ob­vi­ously not the only case of a Bol­ly­wood ac­tress suf­fer­ing the tra­vails of ne­glect at the hands of her chil­dren. Be­fore her, there were many oth­ers who, cut off from the world af­ter re­tir­ing from films, led a soli­tary ex­is­tence cooped up in their bun­ga­lows or apart­ment houses with no one to take care of them in their old age.

It was only oc­ca­sion­ally when some news­pa­per or TV jour­nal­ist do­ing a retro fea­ture on yes­ter­year Bol­ly­wood stars dropped in at their place to in­ter­view them that we would come to know about them. Mostly, we heard about them when they qui­etly passed away in their lonely abode.

Nalini Jayawant was once counted among the top­most stars of Bol­ly­wood. Be­gin­ning her film ca­reer with Me­hboob Khan’s film Ba­hen (1941), she sud­denly shot into fame with Sa­madhi (1950) in which her lead­ing man was Ashok Kumar. Sa­madhi was a block­buster of 1950.

Died anony­mous

Af­ter this, she did a num­ber of suc­cess­ful films with Ashok Kumar, the well-known among them be­ing San­gram (1951), Jadoo (1951), Nauba­har (1951), Jal­pari (1952), Saloni (1952), La­keeren (1954), and Sheroo (1957).

Be­sides, Shikast, Nastik, Mu­nimji, Hum Sab Chor Hain, and Mi­lan (1958) were some other suc­cess­ful films of Nalini Jayawant. For her role of a twaif in Dev Anand’s Kala Pani (1958), she re­ceived the Film­fare Best Sup­port­ing Ac­tress Award.

Nalini Jay­want mar­ried twice but both mar­riages had proved child­less. When her sec­ond hus­band Prabhu Dayal, also an ac­tor, ex­pired, she in her old age was left com­pletely alone in her bun­ga­low in Union Park, Chem­bur, Mum­bai. She was reclu­sive by na­ture and sel­dom at­tended any film in­dus­try func­tion.

So, it was a com­plete sur­prise for many when af­ter al­most 20 years of re­tire­ment from films, she sud­denly agreed to en­act the role of Amitabh Bachchan’s mother in Nastik (1983). That was her last ap­pear­ance in films.

The lone­some Nalini Jayawant passed away at her bun­ga­low on 20 De­cem­ber 2010 aged 84.

Some­times frus­tra­tion can also drive a Bol­ly­wood star to pre­ma­ture death. Pe­tite and pretty Vimi shot to fame with the B.R. Cho­pra-di­rected film Ham­raaz (1967), which was a box-of­fice su­per-hit. But it failed to lift Vimi’s film ca­reer.

There­after she ap­peared op­po­site Shashi Kapoor in Patanga (1971) and Vachan (1974) and with other ac­tors in some other films, but none of th­ese films worked to give a boost to her sag­ging ca­reer. Be­sides, her per­sonal life was now also in great trou­ble.

This led to se­vere de­pres­sion and an ad­dic­tion to al­co­hol.

She was still in her thir­ties when she passed away on 22 Au­gust 1977 in the gen­eral ward of Nanawati Hos­pi­tal in Mum­bai. There was no one to even foot her hos­pi­tal bills. Her body was taken for cre­ma­tion on a thela (push cart) pass­ing through the streets of Mum­bai where no one recog­nised her.

Tragedy queen

Meena Ku­mari, the quin­tes­sen­tial trage­di­enne of Hindi films, was an ac­tress of great sub­stance. But she was fated to lead a life that was full of vi­cis­si­tudes. When she was hardly twenty years old, she fell in love with the al­ready mar­ried writer-di­rec­tor Ka­mal Am­rohi, who was some 20 years older than her.

It proved a to­tally un­happy mar­riage. Af­ter sep­a­rat­ing from Ka­mal Am­rohi, Meena Ku­mari got in­volved in numer­ous love af­fairs but none of them could fill the void in her life.

She will al­ways be re­mem­bered for some land­mark films in which she as an ac­tress was out­stand­ing. Her first most suc­cess­ful film was Baiju

Bawra (1952), and there­after she ap­peared in a num­ber of su­per-hit films.

Among them, Pari­neeta (1953), Azaad (1955), Sharada (1957), Ko­hi­noor (1961), Sahib Bibi Aur Ghu­lam (1962), and Dil Ek Mandir (1963), Kaa­jal (1965) were great. She won the Film­fare Best Ac­tress Award as many as four times.

Her es­tranged hus­band’s movie Pa­keezah (1972) was long in the mak­ing. Meena Ku­mari was in the piv­otal role in this film. But her failed mar­riage and frus­tra­tion in love af­fairs had com­pletely shat­tered her health. So, she could com­plete Pa­keezah with great dif­fi­culty.

Meena Ku­mari’s ad­dic­tion to al­co­hol had led to her con­tract­ing the cir­rho­sis of the liver. When her film Pa­keezah was re­leased, she was se­verely ill. Just three weeks af­ter the re­lease of the film, she passed away in a nurs­ing home of Mum­bai on 31 March 1972 at the age of 39.

An ac­tress, who in her life­time used to do­nate money to sev­eral char­i­ties, had no one to pay her med­i­cal bills af­ter her death. That was the sad end of the great Meena Ku­mari.

Achala Sachdev had quite a dis­tin­guished film ca­reer dur­ing which she ap­peared in as many as 140 films. Start­ing with Fash­ion­able Wife (1938), her last film was, Na Tum Jaano Na Hum (2002). Achala mar­ried twice. Her first mar­riage with Gian Sachdev that took place be­fore she be­came an ac­tress ended in di­vorce. She had a son by this mar­riage.

Sec­ond time she mar­ried a widow- er named Charles Dou­glas Pe­ters and set­tled with him in Pune. But af­ter Pe­ters’ death, Achala was left com­pletely alone. Her son from her first mar­riage was a busi­ness­man in the US, but he had never been in touch with his mother Achala Sachdev. So Achala spent her old age in reclu­sive lone­li­ness. She passed away in Pune at the ripe old age of 91.

Lalita Pawar be­gan her film ca­reer as a child of twelve with a silent movie in the 1920s and then went on to act in hun­dreds of films. Her last film was Laash (1998). She must have acted in nearly 400 Hindi films in her 70 years in the film in­dus­try.

Ver­sa­tile ac­tress

She was chiefly known for her stereo­typ­i­cal role of a stern-faced mother-in-law with a vit­ri­olic tongue, who would tor­ture and ill-treat her daugh­ters-in­law. How­ever, she was also very adept at en­act­ing pos­i­tive roles.

In Raj Kapoor’s Shri 420 (1955), she ap­peared as a kind-hearted road­side ven­dor of ba­nanas. In Anari (1959), she was seen as a be­nign land­lady who is al­ways very le­nient with her im­pe­cu­nious ten­ant. For this role, Lalita Pawar re­ceived the Film­fare Award for Best Sup­port­ing Ac­tress. In Pro­fes­sor (1961), she falls in love with young Shammi Kapoor who comes to her house dis­guised as an old pro­fes­sor. She was in­deed a ver­sa­tile ac­tress.

Lalita Pawar’s old age was un­happy. Al­though she had mar­ried twice, she mostly lived alone. She was alone in her flat in Aundh, Pune on 24 Fe­bru­ary 1998 when she ex­pired at the age of 82. For two days, no one even knew about her death. So, her dead body kept ly­ing in her house. It was only when her son and daugh­ter-in-law came from Mum­bai that she was cre­mated.

Lalita Pawar. Two faces of

Geeta Kapoor a veteran ac­tress of yore is left in lurch.

in 1951. as young lass in old age and Nalini Jay­want

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