Showcasing some of the forgotten faces of Hindi Cinema’s golden era ; here is the second part of the series “Forgotten Faces”.
Think about Kaalia from BR Chopra’s courtroom drama Kanoon or about the school teacher Sharmaji from Dosti ; Nana Palsikar is beyond doubt one of the best character artists to have worked in hindi cinema.
Born in 1907; Palsikar made his debut in 1935 with Dhuwandhar along with Leela Chitnis.
He then appeared in Kandan and Durga (1939) which were produced by Bombay Talkies.
After a break of 14 years; he returned to hindi cinema in Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zamin (1953) alongside Balraj Sahni and Nirupa Roy.Do Bigha Zameen was recognized by critics both in India and abroad.Palsikar follwed this with character roles in films like Devdas, Shree 420 , Anari,Jagte Raho,New Delhi,Ab Dilli Door Nahi and Phir Subah Hogi.
In 1960 Palsikar played the role of Kaalia in Kanoon, a courtroom drama by B. R. Chopra.Kaalia is a petty thief charged with murder of the money lender Dhani Ram played by OmPrakash.Palsikar won his first Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor.Palsikar’s went on to win his second Filmfare Award for the Best Supporting Actor for K A Abbas’s Shehar Aur Sapna.
Another memorable performance came in Rajshri productions Dosti.Based on the friendship between beggars Ramu and Mohan, Palsikar played Ramu’s teacher Sharmaji.”A Teacher never dies..he continues to live in his students” ; he rightly says in his death scene.
Palsikar also featured in international productions like John Berry’s Maya (1966), James Ivory’s The Guru (1969), and Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (1982).He continued to play the roles of father or Judge in the 70’s in films like Heer Ranjha, Lalkar,Dharmatma and Saajan Bina Suhagan.In 1980 he appeared in Govind Nihalani’s Aakrosh, playing Bhiku’s father. His last appearance was in 1984 in the film Kanoon Kya Karega.
Nana Palsikar died on 1st June 1984 in Mumbai, aged 77.
Born to an Irish mother and an Indian father, Leela Naidu was crowned Miss India in 1954. “Vogue” once called her one of the five most beautiful women in the world.Naidu made her debut in Balraj Sahni’s Anuradha in 1960. The film didn’t do well at the box office, but got the National Award for best film and she got critical acclaim. However, she became famous after her non-orthodox role with Sunil Dutt in Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke (1963), based on the famous K M Nanavati vs. State of Maharashtra court case(It was not only the last jury trial held in India but also a direct cause of the abolition of jury trials).
In the same year, she was offered a role in the first Merchant Ivory Production “The Householder”, which was directed by James Ivory.She lost out Vijay Anand’s Guide (1965) to Waheeda Rehman, as she wasn’t a trained dancer.
She returned to cinema only in 1985, to play a Goan family-matriarch in Shyam Benegal’s Trikaal , Shyam had earlier shot an advertisement with her for ‘Finlay Fabrics’ brand in the mid-1960’s.Her appearance in Electric Moon(1992), directed by Pradip Krishen turned out to be her last cinematic role.
Leela Naidu died on Tuesday 28th July, 2009 in Mumbai due to lung failure after a prolonged bout of influenza.She was 69.
A versatile marathi film and stage personality; Nilu Phule worked in over 140 Marathi movies and 12 Hindi movies. The Marathi film industry got its most celebrated villain in Nilu with his debut film Ek Gav Bara Bhangdi. His roles in Saamna, Pinjra (directed by V Shantaram), Sinhasan were widely acclaimed by audiences and critics alike.Described as the most “accomplished villain”, Phule’s career spanned over four decades in Marathi films and stage.
His hindi films include Coolie (with Amitabh Bachchan), Saraansh, Wo Saat Din, Naram Garam, Malmasala, Sau Din Saas Ke, Bhayanak and Garibon Ka Data among others.
Revelation by Shriram Lagoo – In an interesting revelation, eminent actor Shriram Lagoo, who co-starred with late Nilu Phule in many Marathi box office hits said that Phule had once worked as a gardener in B J Medical College in Pune – “Phule worked as a gardener in the B J Medical College when I was studying medicine there years ago. Afterwards, I went abroad and by the time I returned home, he had become a great actor with exceptional talent and versatility”.
A recipient of many awards, Phule worked hard to promote the interests of folk artistes in various branches of the traditional art forms.Phule was 79 when he succumbed to cancer in 2009. In his condolence message Amitabh Bachchan had said – “I had worked with Nilu in ‘Coolie’ and found him to be a seasoned thespian with a distinguished face and voice, who had played some historic roles in his career”.
The talented Zohrabai Ambalewali came to the front by singing numbers like Akhiyan milake jiya bharmake chaley nahin jana in Rattan.Althogh a lot of her songs are commonly available; her most famous tracks are from the film Rattan.This 1944 release is a collection of some really wonderful songs by Naushad saheb, mostly in the voices of Ameerbai and Zohrabai.Akhiyaa milaake, Rumjhum barse baadaravaa, Saavan ke baadalo, Aaii diwali are all in the voice of Zohra.
The duet “Udan khatole pe ud jaaun, tere haath naa aaun” (Anmol Ghadi- music: Naushad)
with Shamshad Begum is also one of her popular songs. Though it is not confirmed ; some sources say Zohra passes away in 1990, not much was heard about her after her active years as a singer.
Gulshan penned about 250 hindi film songs and gave hits like ‘Mere desh ki dharti’ and ‘Yaari hai imaan mera’.Gulshan Mehta and was named Bawra by film distributor Shantibhai Patel due to his craze of wearing colorful shirts.Hailing from Pakistan, Bawra moved to India after the Partition after his parents were killed in the riots. Bawra started writing poetry at the age of six. Bawra was selective and had penned only 250 songs in a career spanning 49 years before becoming a lyricist Gulshan was working with Indian Railways and was also on the board of The Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS) during the last seven years of his life.
Bawra got his first break came with the film Chandrasena in 1959 composed by Kalyanji of the composer Kalyanji-Anandji duo. He wrote the song ‘Main Kya Jaanu Kahaan’ sung by Lata Mangeshkar. However, his real break came with the film Satta Bazar again composed by Kalyanji-Anandji. For this film he delivered hit numbers like ‘Chaandi Ke Chand Tukado Ke Liye’, ‘Aakde Kaa Dhanda’, and ‘Tumhe Yad Hoga Kabhi Hum Mile The’.His wrote 69 songs for Kalyanji-Anandji in his career of 42 years; however the standout partnership he had was with Pancham for whom he penned about 150 songs.These included some mega hits like like Sanam Teri Kasam, Agar Tum Na Hote, Satte Pe Satta, Yeh Vaada Raha, Haath Ki Safai and Rafoo Chakkar.
Gulshan Bawra became the highest paid lyricist in his time. Although he has written very few songs as compared to other lyricists in the industry, he was glad that his lyrics are meaningful and he never had to compromise on any thing.Gulshan Bawra bagged two Filmfare awards for his songs Mere Desh ki Dharati (Upkar) and Yaari Hai Imaan Mera (Zanjeer).
Gulshan Bawra passed away in Mumbai on 7th August 2009.