Saadhana is no more. The extra-ordinary diva has left for her heavenly abode. However her aura stays and will stay forever. Being an ardent fan of Saadhana, I am paying my tribute to her through this blog.
Saadhana was a Sindhi girl. However she molded herself into the characters she portrayed with amazing ease. She effortlessly played her roles soaked in Bengali flavour in Bimal Roy’s movies like Parakh (1960) and Prem Patra (1962) and when it came to playing a Muslim girl in Mere Mehboob (1963), she mesmerized the audience with her presentation of the famous Lakhnavi Tehzeeb (Lucknowi culture).
Perhaps she herself couldn’t know when she got transformed from a simple girl with a broad forehead into a style icon with her Choodidaar Paayjaamas (tight-fitting trousers with wrinkles) and silken tops being perfect for her hourglass figure, extra-ordinarily big ear-rings and finally, her peculiar hairdo which became famous forever as Saadhana-cut. With all these, she took the sixties by storm. None of her contemporaries was able to match her charisma in that period. I was not born in that era but when I had my tryst with Hindi cinema, the lady whom my male heart fell for could be none other than Saadhana.
Her proficient acting was the icing on the cake. Whether it was an offbeat kind of movie like Gaban (1966) or a classic romance like Arzoo (1965), she was able to win hearts in every role played by her. In later years, she played the difficult roles of a revenge-seeker in Intaqam (1969), a mother split between her past and her present in Ek Phool Do Mali (1969) and a raped girl who gives birth to the offspring of the rapist after marrying her beau in Aap Aye Bahaar Ayee (1971) with finesse and proved that she was much more than her outer charm. In Yash Chopra’s multi-starrer Waqt (1965) also she did not allow her unique identity to be lost in the crowd of stars.
Once she worked with Raj Khosla in Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962) which was a brilliant romantic thriller, her career took an interesting twist to play the roles of mysterious women in suspense movies. Raj Khosla and Saadhana then teamed up to present unforgettable suspense-thrillers like Woh Kaun Thi (1964), Mera Saaya (1966) and Anita (1967). Since her personality contained an element of mystery, suspense-soaked roles became her forte. Who can forget the opening scene of Woh Kaun Thi in which the hero (Manoj Kumar) comes across Saadhana clad in a white saree in a stormy night drenching in heavy rain and then he gives lift to her up to a graveyard after an intriguing conversation between them? However Saadhana gave her best in Mera Saaya which is an outstanding mystery cum courtroom drama. On one hand, she enchanted the audience through her dance number Jhumka Gira Re sung by Asha, on the other she won hearts through her performance on Tu Jahan Jahan Chalega and Naino Mein Badra Chhaye sung by Lata. Her confidence in the courtroom scenes of the movie got imprinted on the hearts of the people who watched this blockbuster.
The fact that she played roles containing gray shades in the era when traditional Indian society was not ready to accept the leading ladies in such kind of persona itself speaks volumes of her self-confidence. And her self-confidence succeeded like anything when her gray-shaded roles also won her acclaim and admirers far and wide.
Her on-screen chemistry was the best with Sunil Dutt but truly speaking, she made her love displayed for every on-screen hero of hers look real by all means. She poured her heart out in the romantic scenes and made the audience fall in love with her. Like millions of her male admirers, I also got smitten by her when saw her romance on the screen. Just remember her dialogues with Sunil Dutt interspersed with the songs like Maine Ek Khwaab Sa Dekha Hai in Waqt and Naino Waali Ne Haay Mera Dil Loota in Mera Saaya.
After Geeta Mera Naam (1974) for which she donned the director’s hat also, she had to bid adieu to her sparkling career because of health issues which adversely affected her personality. However certain movies of hers got late in completion and release and therefore, they were released in subsequent years. Once retired from movies, she never came back and kept absolute distance from the outer world, avoiding public appearances in order to keep her aura of the bygone period intact.
She loved R.K. Nayyar, the director of her debut Hindi movie – Love in Simla (1960) from the core of her heart and got married to him in 1966. Unfortunately she could not beget any child. After the sad demise of her husband in 1995, she spent the last two decades of her life as his widow in utter loneliness and with financial and practical hardships. Well-wishers deserted her like fair-weather friends and sadistic foes around did not leave any stone unturned to harass her. How difficult can life be once the arc-lights of glamour and fame have faded out, can be understood by her bitter experiences in that last phase of her life.
She is physically no more but she has become immortal through her movies. Long live Saadhana, the gorgeous Bollywood diva and the unmatchable fashion icon of the Indian cine-world. May her soul rest in peace.
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