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‘Mera Dard Na Jaane Koy’ – Nalini Jaywant

30 Mar, 2020 | Beete Hue Din by Shishir Krishna Sharma
Nalini Jaywant. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

It is a well-known fact that initially, the people connected with films were not viewed upon agreeably and working in films was a taboo in respectable families. Still, the actresses like Durga Khote, Leela Chtnis, Shobhna Samarth, Vanmala and Shanta Apte, who despite all the opposition from their families and society carved their future in cinema on the basis of their talent, diligence and hard work, engraved their names in golden letters in the history of cinema.  Among them, one was Nalini Jaywant who was born in a middle-class traditional Marathi family.  In a career of around twenty-five years, she earned all name and fame on the basis of her eternal beauty and amazing acting abilities, and then with the change of time, she left the glittering world of cinema. Nalini Jaywant entered the film world with 1941 release Radhika and her last film in the main lead was Bombay Racecourse which released in 1965.  After a gap of eighteen years, she was once again seen in 1983 to release Nastik. But she could not cope with this new avatar of a character artist and subsequently, she said goodbye to the films forever. After a span of around twenty-two years, she came out of her self-imposed exile to be honored with Lifetime Achievement Award presented to her by Mumbai’s well-known organization Dada Saheb Phalke Academy on 30 April 2005.  The occasion was Phalke’s 136th jubilee function held at Bhaidass Hall at Vile Parle (West). But after that, she went back to her exile. 

Nalini Jaywant in Nirdosh (1941).
Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

Just four days prior to the Dada Saheb Phalke Academy Award, during a meeting at her bungalow situated at Chembur’s Union Park, Nalini Jaywant spoke in detail about her private and professional life. She was born and brought up at Mumbai’s Girgam area as a daughter of a customs officer. She was the only sister among two brothers. Nalini Jaywant was inclined towards dance since childhood and she took lessons in Kathak from Mohan Kalyanpur. Simultaneously, she learned vocal music from Heerabai Zaveri. According to Nalini, “Swastik, Dreamland and Imperial Cinema halls were very near to her house thus there was an inclination towards films as well but taking into consideration the mindset of the society I could not even think of working into films. Till that time, my paternal aunt’s daughter Shobhna Samarth had already become an established name into the Hindi cinema, yet my father wasn’t happy with her.”
Nalini Jaywant in Radhika (1941)
Song Booklet Cover from Cinemaazi Archive

Producer Chiman Bhai Desai was a big name at that time, who produced around seventy-five films like, Judgement of Allah, Manmohan, Gramophone Singer (1938), Watan (1938), Aurat (1940), Nirdosh (1941), Radhika (1941), Roti (1942), Aankh Michauli (1942), Adaab Arz (1943) and Gwalan (1946) under the banners Sagar Movietone, National Studio and Amar Pictures. Where Motilal entered the films with Sagar Movietone's film Shaher Ka Jadoo (1934), Judgement of Allah alias Al-Hilal (1935) was Mehboob Khan’s and Sitara Devi’s debut film as director and actress respectively. Prior to this, Sitara Devi was seen as a dancer in around five-six films.  Sagar Movietone's Deccan Queen (1936) was the one which singer-actor Surendra started his career with then films like Jagirdar (1937), Gramophone Singer (1938), Watan (1938) and Ek Hi Rasta (1939) of the same banner made Anil Biswas one of the topmost composers of his time. Sagar film Company’s Mahageet (1937), composed by Anil Biswas was the first film to be made in Mumbai where playback was used for the first time. Mukesh also started his career as singer-actor with the film Nirdosh (1941) made under the banner of National Studio which was founded by Chiman Bhai Desai in partnership with Yusuf Fazalbhoy.  Nalini Jaywant was also introduced as an actress by the banner of National Studio only. 
with Kanhaiyalal in the film Nirdosh (1941)
Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

As per Nalini Jaywant, once at her aunt Shobhna Samarth’s home in Nutan’s birthday party she was introduced to Chiman Bhai Desai who was busy with his upcoming film Radhika (1941) being made under the banner of National Studio.  Nalini Jaywant was hardly 14 at that time. Chiman Bhai Desai expressed his wish to take Nalini into the lead actress of the film Radhika (1941) which her father immediately refused. But Chiman Bhai didn’t give up. Ultimately Nalini’s father had to accept Chiman Bhai’s offer.
Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

A 1941 release film Radhika was directed by Chiman Bhai Desai's son Virendra Desai.  Hero of this film was Harish who later directed movies like Kali Topi Lal Rumal (1959), Do Ustad (1959), Naqli Nawab (1962), and Burmah Road (1962) with the name of Tara Harish. Nalini Jaywant sang three solos and four duets with co-singers Harish, Noorjehan, and Maruti Rao in Radhika (1941) which were composed by Ashok Ghosh.  Out of the initial five, her three films e.g. Radhika (1941), Bahen (1941), Nirdosh (1941) were made under the banner of National Studio and rest two i.e. Aankh Michauli (1942) and Adaab Arz (1943) were produced by Amar Pictures. Nalini sang four songs in Bahen (1941), six in Nirdosh (1941), seven in Aankh Michauli (1942), and four songs in Adaab Arz (1943).  
Nalini Jaywant and David in Gunjan (1948). Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

In the year 1945, Nalini got married to Virendra Desai who was many years older than her. Desai was already married and had children from his first marriage. Well known Hindi writer Upendra Nath ‘Ashk’ who had won the Bengal Board of film Journalists best dialogue writer’s award for Filmistan Film Company’s 1945 release Mazdoor, in his book Filmi Duniya Ki Jhalkiyaan writes that because of the second marriage, Virendra Desai had been disowned and ousted by his family from their house and business.  In such circumstances, Nalini Jaywant’s ties with National Studio and Amar Pictures had also been snapped.  Thus, Virendra Desai and Nalini had to sign a contract with the Filmistan film Company.  They shifted to Malad in a rented bungalow which was very near to Filmistan. 
Naaz (1954). Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

According to ‘Ashk’ films like Shikari (1946), Safar (1946) and Eight Days (1946) were made under the banner of Filmistan which Veena, Paro and Shobha were given the leading role in but neither Nalini was chosen as an actress nor Virendra Desai was given a chance to direct. They were being paid a collective salary of Rs. 2,000/-  every month but without any work. According to ‘Ashk’, perhaps the reason behind was a condition put forward by Virendra Desai and Nalini that Nalini would act only in the films directed by Virendra Desai. But ‘Ashk’ also says, “maybe Nalini’s success as an actress had compelled Shashdhar Mukerji to leave Nalini jobless for two years under the contract so to keep the way clear for Naseem who was the heroine of Filmistan’s first film Chal Chal Re Naujawan (1944) and this speculation appeals me more.” At that time ‘Ashk’ was writing a story for a film for Virendra Desai, also says in his book, “then only I came to know that how tense and frustrated were Virendra Desai and Nalini Jaywant internally who otherwise always looked happy and content externally” and “Nalini’s name had vanished from the audience memory during that period. Nalini had committed a blunder to put forward the condition of Desai’s direction.”
Nalini Jaywant with Prabhu Dayal. Image Courtesy: Filmfare, 1961 June 16

According to Nalini Jaywant, her marriage lasted for just three years and they separated in 1948. During that period only one film of Nalini’s Venus Pictures’ Phir Bhi Apna Hai (1946) was released. This film was being made for a very long time. Nalini’s career gained momentum after her contract with Filmistan got over and simultaneously she divorced Virendra Desai and later worked in many films like Anokha Pyar (1948) with Dilip Kumar, Gunjan (1948) with Trilok Kapoor, Chakori (1949) with Bharat Bhooshan, Ankhein (1950) with Shekhar and Bharat Bhooshan, Hindustan Hamara (1950) with Dev Anand and Muqaddar (1950) with Kishore Kumar and Sajjan. Film Gunjan (1948) was produced under the banner of Nalini Productions and was directed by Virendra Desai and Producer-director Devendra Goyal’s film Ankhein (1950) was the debut film of music director Madan Mohan. Nalini Jaywant sang six songs in Gunjan (1948), one song in Chakori (1949), and three songs in Muqaddar (1950). But none of these films could leave an impression on the box office. 
Image Courtesy: Filmfare, 1958 January 31

In true meaning, Nalini tasted the stardom with Filmistan’s Samadhi which was released in the year 1950. Nalini’s other film Sangram (1950) which was made in the same year under the banner of Bombay Talkies’ was also a hit.  In both, films Nalini’s hero was Ashok Kumar and the music director was C. Ramchandra
Nalini Jaywant dressed as a boy in Adab Arz (1943)
Image Courtesy: Film India, November 1942

The decade of the 1950s was extremely hectic for Nalini. She acted in total forty-one films during the years 1951 to 1960 which included Bhai Ka Pyar (1951), Ek Nazar (1951), Jadoo (1951), Nand Kishor (1951), Naujawan (1951),  Doraha (1952), Jalpari (1952), Kaafila (1952), Naubahar (1952), Saloni (1952),  Rahi (1953), Shikast (1953)  Baap Beti (1954), Kavi (1954), Lakeerein (1954), Mehbooba (1954), Naaz (1954), Nastik (1954),  Chingari (1955), Jai Mahadev (1955), Lagan (1955), Munimji (1955), Railway Platform (1955), Raj Kanya (1955),  Aan Baan (1956), Awaaz (1956), Durgesh Nandini (1956), Fifty Fifty (1956), Hum Sab Chor Hain (1956), Insaaf (1956), Sudarshan Chakra (1956), Kitna Badal Gaya Insaan (1957), Miss Bombay (1957), Mr.X (1957), Neelmani (1957), Sheroo (1957), Kala Pani (1958), Milan (1958),  Maa Ke Ansoo (1959),  Mukti (1960). Naaz (1954) was the first Hindi film to be picturized out of the country as it was shot in Cairo and London. Munimji (1955) was the debut film of director Subodh Mukerji as Sunil Dutt entered the film world with same year release Railway Platform (1955). Nalini Jaywant once again sang a song in the film Chingari (1955). 
Image Courtesy: Filmfare 1961 March 24

Nalini Jaywant acted in only five films in the 1960s.  These were, Amar Rahe Ye Pyar (1961), Senapati (1961), Girls Hostel (1962), Zindagi Aur Hum (1962), and Bombay Racecourse (1965). Film Amar Rahe Ye Pyar was produced by well-known character actor Radhakishan (Mehra) who was originally from an Old Delhi based Khattri family. This film was directed by his close friend Prabhu Dayal who had earlier worked as an actor in the films, House No. 44 (1955), Munimji (1955), CID (1956), Nai Dilli (1956), Dushman (1957), Lajwanti (1958), Kala Bazar (1960) and Ek Ke Baad Ek (1960) and had been an assistant-director in Faraar (1955) and Kala Paani (1958). Unfortunately, Amar Rahe Ye Pyar  (1961) flopped miserably that Radhakishan came under huge debt and ultimately committed suicide by jumping off the terrace of his building situated at Pedder Road. 
Image Courtesy: Filmfare, 1959 July 31

Prabhu Dayal had already acted with Nalini Jaywant in the film Munimji (1955).  During the making of the film Amar Rahe Ye Pyar (1961), they both got married. Later on, Prabhu Dayal acted in films like Hum Dono (1961) and Duniya (1968). He also worked as an assistant director in Hum Dono (1961), Tere Ghar Ke Saamne (1963), and Gambler (1963). But Nalini Jaywant bid goodbye to the film world and got busy with handling the household after the release of Bombay Racecourse (1965).  After a gap of eighteen years, she was once again seen in 1983 release Nastik in the role of hero Amitabh Bachchan’s mother but she could not enjoy working in this new avatar of a character artist.  According to Nalini, “this was a blunder to accept that film as whatever I was narrated about the role, all turned out to be false on screen. This was none less than a shock for me. Therefore, I decided never to look back to the film world.”   
Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

If we leave apart 1983 release Nastik then Nalini played the main lead in total sixty films during her career span of twenty-five years between 1941 to 1965.  Among these, the 1946 release Phir Bhi Apna Hai (1946) was re-released in the year 1951 with a new title of Bhai Ka Pyar (1951). Nalini Jaywant’s pairing with Ashok Kumar and Ajit was widely appreciated and she acted in ten films with Ashok Kumar and the same number of films with Ajit. Film Nirdosh (1941) and Nand Kishor (1951) were bilinguals that were made in Marathi also. Nalini also acted in a Gujrati film Warasdaar, which was made in the year 1948. Apart from this, she sang a total of thirty-nine songs in nine films.   

Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

After Prabhu Dayal’s death in the year 2001, Nalini Jaywant lived alone in her huge bungalow. Her brother’s son and his family lived nearby who took care of her needs. Nalini Jaywant, who was born on 18 February 1926 passed away at the age of 85 years on 24 December 2010. Her last rites and post demise rituals were performed by her nephew from his own residence. Immediately after Nalini’s death the locked gate of her bungalow made compelled media to speculate as per their own manner and without knowing the truth, Nalini's demise was declared as suspicious death by the media. This conduct of Indian and especially the electronic media shows its mindlessness as well as hollowness.

[part of Shishir Krishna Sharma's Beete Hue Din blog series]


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