Jun 04 2016

The many facets of Nutan's talent

by   Sonal Pandya

Hindi cinema's most honoured actress displayed a wide range over her long career.

1 Seema (1955) as Gauri

Nutan won her first Filmfare award for Best Actress with her spirited turn as the young orphan who gets shunted off a remand home by her unpleasant relatives when she is falsely accused of a crime. With a strong script from director Amiya Chakrabarty, Gauri transforms herself from obedient to angry and finally, redemptive, a great arc for an emerging actress at 19.

2 Baarish (1957) as Chanda

In Baarish, one of her earlier films with Dev Anand, Nutan played village girl Chanda who falls for her brother's friend, Ramu. Initially, she has no idea that both her brother and soon-to-be husband Ramu are involved in criminal activities. Eventually, she comes on board to help Ramu avenge his elder brother's death at the hands of the crime boss.

3 Dilli Ka Thug (1958) as Asha

Nutan was typecast in serious roles in so many of her films that one forgets she was very young when she began her career. In SD Narang's Dilli Ka Thug opposite Kishore Kumar, Nutan played Asha, a diving champion who just happened to be engaged to Kishore, a journalist investigating his father's untimely death. Here, she was featured in songs like the lively duet 'C-A-T cat, cat maane billi' and the lovely romantic number 'Yeh raaten yeh mausam'.

4 Sujata (1959) as Sujata

In Bimal Roy's adaptation of Subhodh Ghosh's short story Sujata, the director masterfully and simply told the tale of the young Harijan girl and her relationship with the family that takes her in. As the unpretentious Sujata, Nutan picked up her second Filmfare award for Best Actress. Sunil Dutt played the kind Adhir, an eligible Brahmin boy, who is in love with Sujata.

5 Bandini (1963) as Kalyani

Easily one of Nutan's most powerful roles, Bandini won the National award for Best Hindi Film and the Filmfare award for Best Actress. In Bimal Roy's last film, Nutan took on the role initially rejected by Vyjayanthimala. Kalyani commits a crime of passion: she poisons the wife of the man she loves and, just as impulsively, admits her transgression. Torn between two men, one a freedom fighter, the other a jail doctor, Nutan's face displays all the emotions of Kalyani's inner dilemma as she struggles to do what is right.

6 Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963) as Sulekha

Nutan and Dev Anand made quite the winning pair in Vijay Anand's Tere Ghar Ke Samne. With songs like 'Dil ka bhanwar' filmed in the Qutub Minar and the title song in which Anand pines away for Nutan's Sulekha, the duo played the love-struck offspring of two feuding businessmen. The film's name is derived from the similar houses Anand's Rakesh builds for his father and Sulekha's father. Nutan filmed Tere Ghar Ke Samne after the birth of her son, Mohnish.

7 Saraswatichandra (1968) as Kumud

This film was adapted from the popular Gujarati novel by Govardhanram Tripathi. Director Govind Saraiya cast Nutan in the role of Kumud, the star-crossed former fiancée of Saraswati Chandra who is forced to marry an illiterate man. Kumud is self-sacrificing to a fault; she refuses to remarry Saraswati even after the death of her husband and dedicates her life to social work. Nutan looked simple yet stunning in the National award-winning black-and-white cinematography of Nariman Irani.

8 Saudagar (1973) as Mahjubin

In Sudhendu Roy's Saudagar, Nutan acted opposite Amitabh Bachchan for the first time. Her character Mahjubin is an expert at turning tree sap into jaggery and Bachchan's business-minded Moti sees her as an opportunity to save money by marrying her and then dumping her for his original choice, Phoolbanu. Mahjubin, an older widow, has no idea of Moti's deception until it's too late. No matter what she does or how hard she works, Nutan's Mahjubin always ends up getting a raw deal in the film.

9 Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki (1978) as Sanjukta

Nutan was nominated twice for a Filmfare award in this two-heroine film directed by Raj Khosla. She and Asha Parekh both lost out to Reena Roy for Best Supporting Actress but she ended up winning the Best Actress award for her role as the wife who takes in her husband's illegitimate child and raises him alongside her own son. Of course, as the boys grow up, Sanjukta begins to differentiate between the two, not knowing that her son, Pratap, is to blame.

10 Karma (1986) as Seeta

As the years passed by, Nutan took the inevitable mother roles every actress has to endure. In Subhash Ghai's patriotic saga Karma, she finally got the chance to act opposite Dilip Kumar as his wife Seeta. Seeta goes mute with shock after an attack wipes out most of her family right in front of her eyes. Karma featured an ensemble cast of Naseeruddin Shah, Jackie Shroff and Anil Kapoor, but it is most remembered for the lilting nationalistic number, 'Dil diya hai jaan bhi denge' with Kumar as the police officer Rana Vishwa Pratap Singh and Nutan as his supportive wife.