Nanda’s Interview

Daughter of producer, director and actor, Master Vinayak (Vinayak Damodar Karnataki), Nanda was the third born in the family comprising of seven brothers and sisters. “Sometimes I used to wonder why, in a family as big as mine, I was the favorite child of my parents. My father and mother (Sushila) were, to me, like a god and a goddess. My father used to relate stories of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Capt. Laxmi, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru etc. My parents were instrumental in imparting high moral and cultur­al values in all of us. This is the time when the young girl dreamt of becoming another Capt. Laxmi.”

When Nanda was 5 years old, one day her father came up to her and said, “You have to work in my film.” The young girl was taken aback and for a moment saw her dreams of becoming a second Capt. Larmi being shat­tered. “He tried his best to cajole me in agreeing but I put my foot down and said “Nothing doing”. Later my moth­er pacified me into giving in, saying, “Your father loves you and that is why he chose you to star in in his film. Later when Nanda gave her nod, to her surprise, she was told that she would have to play a boy in the film. “I wondered why did he have to choose me when my father could have taken any of my brothers to play a role? After much explanation I agreed to do the film and that was Mandir (1948). While making the film my father expired. After his death, Dinkar Patil completed the film. Having tasted filmdom, Baby Nanda decided to do films besides attending the school. First she did Jaggu (1952) as a child artiste in which Shyama was playig the heroine. In 1954 she did Jagadguru Shankaracharya. In the same year she did Angaray directed by K.B. Lal that starred Nargis and Nasir Khan and had a good supporting cast that included Vanmala, Jagirdar, Jeevan among others. ‘Then she did Dinkar Patil’s Kuldaivat followed by Shevgacha Shenga produced by Sadashiv Row Kavi and directed by Shantaram Athavle.

Once there was a wedding at V Shantaram’s place. “He called up my elder sister Meena and requested her to also get me for the marriage but with a saree on. I did the same and in the middle of the party, Shantaram came up to us and promptly told Meena. “She is the heroine of my next film.” But when Meena said that I looked too young to be a heroine of a film, Shantaram shot back saying, “The story of my film involving a brother and a sister demands a young girl and I am sure Nanda will fit the role perfectly.” The film was Toofan Aur Diya (1956) and this was the first Hindi film of Baby Nanda’s career as the leading lady. “After that there was no looking back and I decided not to pur­sue with my studies any more. And the girl Baby Nanda became Nanda.” As I changed tracks, offers started pouring in but I started getting sister-roles. On these lines I got Bhabhi and Dulhan (1957), Agra Road, Pehli Raat and Chhoti Bahen (1959) and Kala Bazar (1960), After Chhoti Bahen became a very big hit, people started signing me as a heroine. I started getting good offers and my first few films were Hum Dono (with Dev Anand in 1961), Char Diwari (with Shashi Kapoor in 1961), Aaj our Kal and Usne Kaha Tha (both with Sunil Dutt in 1963). Soon big banners started approaching me with good offers. “I excelled in doing emotional roles. It was said in filmy cir­cles that it was first Meena Kumari and then me who excelled in doing emotional type of roles,” avers Nanda