Sadhana Shivdasani, or Sadhana, as she was famously known in Hindi cinema, passed away quietly on Friday Christmas day December 25 at the Hinduja hospital in Mumbai. She lived and died a recluse.
Luckily, she had a nephew with her when she passed away.
I remember the one time that I managed to interview her. She was reluctant to talk and after a few questions quickly excused herself saying she had to rush to the bank.
Sadhana was the ultimate enigma. No wonder, director Raj Khosla repeatedly cast her as the mystery woman in Woh Kaun Thi, Mera Saaya and Anita. In the late 1950s and throughout 1960s, Sadhana excelled in roles that required a naturalistic approach. This, at a time when Indian mainstream cinema required exaggerated drama.
Says Sanjay Leela Bhansali, “Sadhanji preferred mellow drama to melodrama. Her performance in films like Bimal Roy’s Parakh, Dev Anand’s Hum Dono and Raj Khosla’s Woh Kaun Thi was the pinnacle of underplayed acting. I wish I could have worked with her.”
Sadhana began her career in 1960 with the cute quirky love story Love In Simla. It was directed by R. K. Nayyar who invented her famous ‘Sadhana fringe’ hairstyle. The ‘fringe benefits’ continued for many years, as love blossomed between Sadhana and her director.
In the late 1960s health issues (she had a problem with her thyroid glands) impeded her career considerably. But she bounced back post her illness with a bevy of blockbusters like Aap Aaye Bahaar Ayee, Ek Phool Do Mali , Inteqam and Geeta Mera Naam which her husband produced and she directed.
After Geeta Mera Naam, Sadhana retired from films to never look back.
Sadhana and Nayyar remained married for 34 years. On his death, Sadhana was rendered absolutely bereft .
As one close friend put it, “Sadhana’s entire universe revolved around her husband. After his death, she became a recluse stepping out of her home only for an occasional lunch with her friends Waheeda Rehman and Asha Parekh.
In recent times, Sadhana grappled with multiple court cases pertaining to the property on which she lived. Last year, she underwent mouth surgery and was since then, ailing at home.
Says her close friend Asha Parekh, “Sadhana had called Waheedaji a few days back. She had heard a lot about Bajirao Mastani and wanted to see it. Her death is sudden and shocking. She suffered a lot because of the legal issues which forced into the public eye again. She hated that.”
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