She was certainly an actress who performed with finesse and beauty and created her place in the industry
The Indian film industry has been blessed with some commendable performers the world has ever seen- be it actors, actresses, or directors. And among one of the yesteryears beauties was the one whose eyes could make your heart skip a beat. Not only charming and charismatic, Sadhana Shivdasani was equally gifted as an actress. She had an aura that gave the impression of being effortlessly brilliant on screen. With her expressive and captivating eyes, and an infectious and almost seductive smile, Sadhana was both, a heartthrob and a style icon. The fusion churidar kurtis and morjis which she wore in Waqt have never really gone out of style. And what better tribute could be given to her than little girls going to the hairdressers to get the ‘Sadhana cut’ decades after she popularized it. The fringe, which was inspired by Audrey Hepburn, not only made her distinct but covered her broad forehead as well. Born in Karachi, Pakistan and named after her father’s favourite actress Sadhona Bose, Sadhana was a movie buff since her childhood and was allowed to see as many as two movies a week. She was noticed by some producers in a college play at the age of 15, and her debut was in India’s first Sindhi film titled Abaana. On the sets of the film, Sadhana asked for Sheila Ramani’s autograph and Ramani scribbled ‘One day I’ll ask for your autograph’.
The film became a huge success and Sadhana became a star overnight. Apart from all the films she has done, she’ll forever be remembered for Rafi-Asha duet “Abhi na Jaao Chhodkar” which is considered as one of the most romantic songs by Shah Rukh Khan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali! The sight of Sadhana in a burqa was described as ‘Unforgettable’ by a stunned Danny Denzongpa. Sadhana once stated that she unconsciously modelled her acting style after her idol, Nutan. The actress remained a mystery all her life. She kept a low-profile and believed that an artist should maintain a certain mystique. According to her “An artist shouldn’t become too familiar to the public. One shouldn’t see them too often. The charisma grows in that way, and that’s what’s called star-power”.
After her wedding, her entire life revolved around her husband RK Nayyar. Sadhana fell in love with the director when she was 16, but her parents threatened the 22-year-old Nayyar with a legal action and he eventually backed away. Later, it was Raj Kapoor who reintroduced the two who fell in love and wanted to get married. Her mother was against it but Sadhana was adamant and with her father backing her up, her mother eventually came around. And the two got married in 1966. At first, she was content to be a housewife and took cooking lessons and became well known in the film industry for her culinary skills. But she had serious health problems with her thyroid and went to Boston for her treatment where she recovered but the condition affected the appearance of her eyes. She refused to be photographed in public as she did not want to detract from the iconic image she had crafted for herself over the years. After a two year absence, she starred in his husbands directed movies which were super hits. She retired from acting in the late 70s; she wanted her career to end just as how it began which was a leading lady and not as a side character or a mother. After her husband’s demise, she closed the production house and retired, quietly living the life of a widow.
On her life after retirement, she jokingly revealed that “I do gardening for two hours in the morning. Then sometimes I take a massage. After lunch, I go to the club and play cards. In the evening watch TV. I also have a group of non-filmy friends”. The real-life ‘mystery girl’ rarely gave interviews and wanted to be remembered as young and beautiful.
In 2014, Sadhana made a memorable public appearance along with Ranbir Kapoor. She walked the ramp in a gorgeous pink sari to show support for cancer and AIDS patients. She looked cheerful and glamorous as ever. The fashion show turned out to be the last public event and the star that she was, she wanted that to be her lasting impression on her fans.
A year and a half later, on December 25, 2015 Sadhana died of cancer. And the whole film industry was present at her Santa Cruz apartment to not mourn her demise but to celebrate her life.
She was the go-to actress in Bollywood when film producers wanted someone who was bright, cute, knew a little dancing and could display some histrionics.
It would only be fair if we remember her for her contribution to Hindi cinema, her devotion to films and for the woman she was. She was certainly an actress who acted with finesse and beauty and created her place in the industry. With Sadhana an era came to an end.
© 2016 Sulabh Swachh Bharat. All Right Reserved