From limelight to anonymity
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.
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.
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.
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