On Nanda's 80th birth anniversary (the actress was born on 8 January 1939), we list some memorable numbers picturized on her.
10 notable songs of Nanda – Birth anniversary special
Mumbai - 08 Jan 2019 9:00 IST
Updated : 07 Jan 2022 21:52 IST
Joining Marathi cinema as Baby Nanda, the actress would go on to prosper as a leading lady in Hindi cinema. Her father was the actor-filmmaker Master Vinayak who died in 1947, when Nanda was all of eight years old, forcing her to join films to keep the family afloat.
She played the typical sister roles in films like Toofan Aur Diya (1956) and Bhabhi (1957), even earning a Filmfare nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. Ironically, it was another role as the youngest sister in LV Prasad's Chhoti Bahen (1959) that took her to stardom.
By the 1960s, Nanda had graduated to leading roles with films like Kanoon (1960) and Hum Dono (1961), opposite stars like Rajendra Kumar and Dev Anand. It was her most successful decade and she appeared in various films from Aanchal (1960) to Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965) and Ittefaq (1969).
Thereafter, she moved back to supporting roles in films like Shor (1972) and Prem Rog (1982).
While she never reached the dizzy heights of stardom of contemporaries like Sadhana or Waheeda Rehman, Nanda remained a reliable actress for most of her career. However, after the filming of Mazdoor (1983), she permanently left films behind.
For her 80th birth anniversary, we go back to revisit some memorable numbers from Nanda's films.
1. 'Bhaiya Mere Rakhi Ke Bandhan Ko Nibhana' — Chhoti Bahen (1959)
Now a quintessential Raksha Bandhan number, the song 'Bhaiya Mere Rakhi Ke Bandhan Ko Nibhana', composed by Shankar-Jaikishan, highlights the oft-touted bond between elder brother and younger sister in Hindi cinema. By now the relationship from Chhoti Bahen of a devoted brother doing his best to protect and take care of his sister, generally a damsel in distress, has been confirmed into Hindi cinema canon.
Shailendra's lyrics on this song, which reached number 21 on the Binaca Geetmala annual list, confirm this bond. Singer Lata Mangeskhar received a nod for Best Playback Singer as well.
In the LV Prasad film, Nanda’s character Meena loses her eyesight before marriage and her noble brother Rajendra (Balraj Sahni) sacrifices his ambitions in life to take care of her, while her other selfish brother Shekhar (Rehman) ditches his siblings for his rich wife Shobha (Shyama).
2. ‘Aaha Rimjhim Ke Yeh Pyaare Pyaare Geet Liye’ — Usne Kaha Tha (1960)
While the song was constructed on a film set made to look like open fields, it doesn't take away from the loveliness or the ebullient mood of the Salil Chowdhury composition. Another Shailendra number, this one emphasizes the love of young sweethearts Nandu (Sunil Dutt) and Kamli (Nanda), from a short story by writer Chandradhar Sharma Guleri. The duet is sung by Talat Mahmood and Lata Mangeshkar.
The Bimal Roy production, directed by Moni Bhattacharya, was a beautiful tale of love and sacrifice when the poor Nandu is deemed unsuitable to marry Kamli. But when he joins the army, he comes face to face with Kamli's husband, his superior officer, played by Tarun Bose. Nanda, as the woman caught in between, is delicate and wears her heartbreak well.
3. ‘Allah Tero Naam Ishwar Tero Naam’ — Hum Dono (1961)
This Navketan gem, with Dev Anand in a double role, also featured Nanda and Sadhana in key roles opposite him. Nanda played Ruma, the wife of Major Verma (Dev Anand) who goes missing in action. His lookalike, Captain Anand (also Dev Anand), is mistaken for the major and has to fill in out of guilt and a sense of obligation.
While every song from the film's soundtrack, composed by Jaidev, was a classic, there is something unforgettable and moving about the devotional number, ‘Allah Tero Naam Ishwar Tero Naam’ in which Nanda pleads for divine intervention to find her husband. Even in a small role, and against Dev Anand in full effect, Nanda managed to make a quiet but notable impact.
4. 'Mujhe Gale Se Laga Lo' — Aaj Aur Kal (1963)
In this 1963 drama, adapted from a Marathi novel, Sundar Me Honar, by PL Deshpande, Nanda played a morose princess, Hemalata, confined to bed by an illness. Enter the young, handsome and capable Dr Sanjay (Sunil Dutt), who takes a different approach to treating the sad royal. Naturally, the two fall in love, spending so much time together, but can the royal and the commoner get the blessings of her father, the king (Ashok Kumar)?
In the sorrowful duet, sung by Asha Bhosle and Mohammed Rafi, the couple ponder their status while pledging their love to each other. The poignant lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi and the score by Ravi were highly underrated for their time. The more romantic solo, 'Yeh Wadiyan Yeh Fazayen', by Rafi is usually recalled from the same film directed by Vasant Joglekar.
5. 'Yeh Sama, Sama Hai Ye Pyar Ka' — Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965)
Arguably the biggest hit of Nanda's career, the blockbuster directed by Suraj Prakash also cemented the pairing of her and Shashi Kapoor. They ended up acting in eight films together, giving a boost to the youngest Kapoor brother's career. The romantic drama had a hit soundtrack by Kalyanji-Anandji and lyrics by Anand Bakshi.
‘Yeh Sama, Sama Hai Yeh Pyar Ka’, rendered by Lata Mangeshkar, is an evergreen number. Here, the usually staid star has a seductive song picturized on her in sleeveless silk white gown while Kapoor looks on.
6. ‘Pardesiyon Se Na Ankhiyan Milana’ — Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965)
Set in the cold but beautiful winter of Kashmir, Nanda dons the traditional garb of the northernmost state and picks up the oars of a shikara (small wooden boat) to sing the female version of ‘Pardesiyon Se Na Ankhiyan Milana’, sung by Lata Mangeshkar on the soundtrack. The film, a typical romance of rich tourist girl and poor local boy, won over audiences largely due to the hit music and the chemistry of the lead pair.
It was gracious of the actress to agree to star with a lesser-known actor without any hits behind him to give a boost to his career. Shashi Kapoor remained eternally grateful to Nanda and is said to have called her his 'favourite heroine'.
7. ‘Jaane Chaman Shola Badan’ — Gumnaam (1965)
Only in Hindi cinema would all the principal characters of a film, suspected of murder, land up in a foreign place where a disembodied voice (actually Lata Mangeshkar singing ‘Gumnaam Hai Koi’) informs them that evil lurks among them.
Adapted from Agatha Christie’s 1940 novel, And Then There Were None, the characters of Gumnaam are picked off one by one for their past sins. But in between there is always time for some romance, as Nanda as Asha and Manoj Kumar as Anand woo each other in the rain for the Shankar-Jaikishan song ‘Jaane Chaman Shola Badan’ written by Hasrat Jaipuri.
8. ‘Likha Hai Teri Ankhon Me’ — Teen Devian (1965)
With Gumnaam, Jab Jab Phool Khile and Teen Devian, 1965 was an outstanding year for Nanda. After Hum Dono (1961), she reunited with Dev Anand for the light-hearted romance Teen Devian, in which Anand is swayed by three beautiful women. Eventually, he has to chose which woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with.
As the typist who rents a room at the same house as Anand, Nanda's character had immediate chemistry with him and represented the simple life he had longed for all along. The delightful duet by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar, even now, lifts you up and brings a smile to your face as the couple flirt on screen. The hummable number was composed by SD Burman and written by Majrooh Sultanpuri.
9. ‘Je Hum Tum Chori Se’ — Dharti Kahe Pukar Ke (1969)
In this drama about two brothers set in a village, Nanda played the daughter of the moneylender who has given them money. With the debt hanging over them, Moti (Sanjeev Kumar) and Shiru (Jeetendra) separate to earn money for it, leaving Nanda’s Radha torn between them. When she actually loves one brother, as shown in the romantic song ‘Je Hum Tum Chori Se’, she may have to wed another, over her wishes. The little known soundtrack, composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, had songs written in a rustic tone by Majrooh Sultanpuri.
10. ‘Ik Pyar Ka Nagma Ha’ — Shor (1972)
Nanda's Gumnaam co-star Manoj Kumar cast her in a pivotal role in his home production, Shor (1972). The tearjerker featured the actress as his late wife and devoted mother of their child. She was featured on what could called be the theme song of the film, ‘Ik Pyar Ka Nagma Hai’, which was sung by both Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh, and written by Santosh Anand. The emotional score was composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, with the latter probably playing the violin pieces in the film. It was one of the memorable songs Nanda was a part of, before retiring from films a decade later.