Veteran Hindi film actor Nanda, whose dimpled smile and doe eyes lit up the screen in the fifties and sixties in runaway hits, succumbed to a massive cardiac arrest on Tuesday morning at her residence in Andheri. She was 75 and is survived by two brothers.
Talking to the media, her sister-in-law Jaishree T, also a film actor, said that Nanda breathed her last around 8.30 am at her residence in the north-west suburb Seven Bungalows in Andheri.
Daughter of pioneer film-maker and actor Vinayak D Karnataki, popularly known as Master Vinayak, Nanda entered films at a very early age following his premature death. Her uncle, renowned film-maker V Shantaram, gave her a break in 'Toofan aur Diya’.
In a career spanning over four decades, Nanda’s acting prowess was evident in both commercial hits and offbeat movies.
In the late sixties, while reigning as a queen at the box office, she began encouraging young actors by getting them lead roles.
Nanda’s baby steps into tinsel town were as a child artiste in V.Shantaram’s classic film 'Toofan Aur Diya' in 1956.
The film brought her critical acclaim as well as financial relief to her family, which had been reduced to penury following the sudden demise of her father.
After ‘Toofan Aur Diya’, Nanda never looked back and, in fact, like the fifties’ famous ‘Raj Kapoor-Dev Anand-Dilip Kumar' triumvirate, Nanda along with Nutan and Waheeda Rehman ruled the lead female cast from the late fifties to mid-sixties.
With over 65 films to her credit, Nanda often experimented with offbeat roles, unlike other heroes of her era. In a song-less film 'Ittefaq', she played the role of a housewife who murders her husband in order to be with her paramour.
In 'Teen Deviyan’, she played a working woman who lives independently in a city teeming with lonely souls and does not shy away from expressing her love to the reluctant male protagonist — played by Dev Anand.
From the mid-sixties, when several top male actors started encouraging young girls to be cast in lead roles, Nanda was one of the first heroines to encourage and promote new faces like Shashi Kapoor, Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Rajesh Khanna and others to play the hero in her films.
From the mid-seventies onwards, she quietly shifted to character roles, mostly playing the role of a mother or an elderly woman simmering with anger against the misogynist forces dominating the social milieu.
The flashes of rage of the helpless mother in the Raj Kapoor-directed 'Prem Rog', which dealt with child widows, continues to astound audiences even today.