I was in my final year at St Stephen’s College when I met her. She had just completed Inteqaam, directed by her husband RK Nayyar. I interviewed her for a magazine but, in reality, was quite the star-stuck fan. Somehow we clicked and I got involved with the film's promotion in Delhi through her newly-opened distribution office.
We kept in touch and I actually became friends with her husband. Soon I suggested to her that she should do an adaptation of Harold Robbins‘s 79, Park Avenue. Nayyar said why don’t you write an adaptation. And so my Bollywood journey began.
Sadhana was the daughter of a Sindhi refugee who lived in the Sindhi colony in Chembur. While still a school girl, financial circumstances forced her to start looking for work and she became an extra and got her first role as a chorus dancer in Raj Kapoor’s Shree 420.
Soon she caught the eye of a Sindhi film agent, who cast her as the leading lady in the first Sindhi language film - Abaana. Sashadhar Mukherjee of Filmalaya Studios soon noticed her and asked her to join his acting school, along with Asha Parekh, Sanjeev Kumar and Joy Mukherjee.
It was just a matter of time before she was launched by Sasadhar Mukherjee in Love in Shimla, directed by another debutant, RK Nayyar (an erstwhile assistant of Raj Kapoor during Boot Polish). The film with OP Nayyar’s lilting score was a blockbuster.
|Sadhana had an inherent sophistication and quickly became an urban male craze.|
A star was born. And then came the famous fringe, and later, the fitted churidar kameez - fashion fad for an entire generation.
|The famous 'Sadhna-cut'.|
Suddenly Sadhana, who had an inherent sophistication about her became an urban male craze. Her early education at a convent and then a couple of years at Mumbai’s Jai Hind College had ensured that she was au courant with fashion and had a western worldview.
From 1962 onwards till 1973, Sadhana remained amongst the top three actresses in India. And a what a run it was - from Bimal Roy’s Parakh and Prempatra to Raj Khosla’s Mera Saaya and Woh Kaun Thi; Navketan’s Hum Dono and HS Rawail’s Mere Mehboob to Arzoo and Ek Phool Do Mali.
|Ek Phool Do Mali.|
She was also fortunate that Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle sang some of their best numbers for her.
She was one of the first Bollywood actresses who bought a bungalow on the famous Pali Hill (she later shifted to seaside apartment). A sudden disease of the thyroid aborted her career at its peak. She voluntarily sought obscurity and stopped working in films or socialising with film folk, save her close friends.
With the customary B&H in her fingers and a drink of scotch and coke, she was great fun to be with when you met her at home. Articulate and well informed, this glamour girl was no dumb blonde. I have many fond personal memories of her.
Sadly I was unable to attend her cremation as I was out of town. But then you never say goodbye to an eternal beauty like Sadhana.