Sensuous & Sublime: Nanda
#Subbarayudu G. Kameswara
Much before glamour took the present cinematic shape of strip-wiggle-scoot item songs, Nanda (1939 -2014) appeared in Hindi cinema doing a variety of roles which defined glamour in ways dignified beyond the understanding of the grand-gen-neXT. The sensuous and the sublime came to her with the ease of a woman who’s lived life’s range of experiences without exaggeration.
Having seen her in swimsuits and white pallu drawn over her head… many of that generation can not be sure whether Nanda did this first or Sharmila Tagore. What ,however, is clear is that Nanda gave her best to every role she played with great panache. A chiselled–sculpted figure, fine eyes, an expressive face and an 'adaa' many would have given their lives for, Nanda had her co-stars and young fans in thrall, alike.
Her role in Hum Donon, a woman mourning a lost husband, and confounded by a look alike army officer, with god’s names on her lips; and that in Jab Jab Phool Khiley dealing with the love of an innocent Kashmiri boatsman rowing a Shikaara are outstanding performances of that period when Dev Anand and Shashi Kapoor’s delicate charming looks needed the balancing presence of a robust, full-bodied actress who could be seductive as well as sobering… fun loving, humorous and serious at will. There was melodrama. All right. But what is an Indian movie without melodrama… without dance… without songs?
Teen Deviyaan, Mehendi Lagi Merey Haath, Chhoti Behan and Joruu ka Ghulaam are among her better known movies. What cinema buffs will remember chiefly, of course, are the psycho-legal thrillers such as Kanoon ( Ashok Kumar & Rajendra Kumar), Gumnaam (Manoj Kumar, Mehmood), and Ittefaq (Rajesh Khanna). The khal-naayika of Ittefaq, was a trend-setter with a heroine doing a ‘negative’ role with great subtlety (Khal-Naayika Anu Aggarwal and Kaun? Urmila Matondkar could learn a bit from her). Among her heroes were Dev Anand, Rajendra Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Jeetendra and Rajesh Khanna. That she held her own among heroines such as Waheeda Rehman, Saadhana, Aasha Parekh, Sharmila Tagore, is a tribute to her overall personality.
Some of the songs picturised on her such as: Naa naa kartey pyaar tumhi se kar baithey; Likha hai teri aankhon mein, dil kaa fasaana; Ke hum tum chori sey, bandhey ek dori sey; Gulaabi aankhein, jo maney dekhi , sharaabi yeh dil ho gayaa; Ek Pyaar ka naghmaa hai are memorable. What made Nanda such a abiding icon (from 1950s to the mid 1970s) despite a relatively small number of movies ( a little over 70, it is learnt) was that Nanda's appeal straddled the range between Yeh Samaa... and Allah Tero Naam, the seductive and the sublime. Let the songs play on while her image dances on the Hindi cinema's silver screen and in the collective consciousnes of Indian cinema-buffs.