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Meri Veena Tum Bin Roye - Ameeta

23 Mar, 2020 | Beete Hue Din by Shishir Krishna Sharma
Ameeta. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

Filmistan’s 1957 release hit film Tumsa Nahin Dekha not only gave a new ‘The Dancing Hero’ image to Shammi Kapoor but also made Ameeta a star, who was seen in comparatively serious and not so important roles before the release of Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957).  In a career spanning 22 years, Ameeta acted in 50 films and then gracefully bid adieu to the film world. Years later, Ameeta once again came out in public when she was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Cine & TV Artistes Association (CINTAA) on 20 November 2005. Another star who was seen socializing with people on a public platform viz. the same CINTAA annual general meeting after decades was Beena Rai. I had the chance to meet both these actresses in the same AGM. I requested Ameeta Ji for an appointment and a few days later I was at her home at the right time that was fixed for the interview. 
 
a childhood photograph of Ameeta. Image Courtesy: Filmfare, 1963 December 27


Ameeta started her career with producer-director Lekhraj Bhakhri’s Thokar which released in the year 1953. She got this acting talent from her mother who was originally from Lahore, and was the sister of Pakistan’s well-known actor Aslam Parvez. She worked with Corinthian Theatre Company of Kolkata which was owned by the famous theatre director-actor Maniklal Dangi and was known with the name Shakuntala Devi. Ameeta was born on 11 April 1940 in Kolkata. She was one and a half years old when her father Choudhary Riaz Ahmed died. Later Shakuntala Devi shifted to Mumbai along with her daughter. Ameetadid her schooling at a boarding school.  
Madhubala was my favorite actress. I liked watching her movies and then copying her characters. I was very impressed with her sword fight in one such film Baadal (1951). I was 11 years old at that time. One day I was playing sword fight outside my home when producer-director Lekharaj Bhakhri saw me. He liked me so much that he instantly signed me for the character of the side heroine for his under production film Thokar (1953). "
Ameeta says, “Madhubala was my favorite actress. I liked watching her movies and then copying her characters. I was very impressed with her sword fight in one such film Baadal (1951). I was 11 years old at that time. One day I was playing sword fight outside my home when producer-director Lekharaj Bhakhri saw me. He liked me so much that he instantly signed me for the character of the side heroine for his under-production film Thokar (1953). The main lead pair in Thokar was Shammi Kapoor and Shyama and the composer was Sardar Malik”. 
 


Ameeta’s debut movie as heroine was again a 1953 release Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu which was produced by Prakash Pictures and directed by Vijay Bhatt. Ameeta’s hero in this movie was Bharat Bhushan. Ameeta says, “My real name is Qamar Sultana, my mother fondly called me Indira, my friends call me Indu whereas in Thokar (1953) I was introduced with the screen name ‘Jayjaywanti’. The screen name ‘Ameeta’ was given to me after Vijay Bhatt published an advertisement in newspapers and asked readers to suggest a name for the heroine for his upcoming movie Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1953). 
(According to Ameeta Ji, his debut movie as an actress was 1953 release Thokar. But as per her filmography provided by well-known film historian Shri Harish Raghuwanshi ji (of Surat) and the Hindi Film Geet Kosh: part-2 compiled by Shri Harmandir Singh ‘Hamraz’ Ji (of Kanpur), she had already acted in 2 films Kaafila and Anmol Sahara in the year 1952 i.e. even before the release of Thokar. Since her name in the credits of these films appears as Ameeta, it seems that she signed these movies after signing ‘Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’ but they released first.)
 
Ab-e-Hayat (1955). Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

The failure of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1953) adversely affected Ameeta’s career. Constrainedly she had to accept some B and C graders like Amar Kirtan (1954), Badal Aur Bijli (1956), Baaghi Sardar(1966), and Indrasabha (1956). But her career took a positive turn after Saira Bano’s mother and a star of her times Naseem Bano introduced her to Filmistan Film Company’s head Shashadhar Mukerji. Ameeta says, “After playing side roles in Filmistan’s Aab-E-Hayat (1955), Munim ji (1955) and Hum Sab Chor Hain (1956), I was chosen for the lead role opposite Shekhar in Abhimaan (1957). Then I did Zamana (1957) opposite Kamaljeet and then in the same year i.e. 1957, Tumsa Nahin Dekhas record success made me a star”. 
“That was the time when a new generation of actresses was entering the film world. To stay in the competition had become very hard. In such circumstances, I had no other option than to turn to character roles ..."
Ameeta got a chance to act with her favourite actress Madhubala in producer-director Aspi Irani’s movie Shirin Farhad (1956). This was made in the year 1956 and Ameeta always considers it the biggest achievement of her life. On the other hand, the year 1957 proved to be the most important year of her career as besides Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957), producer-director Amiya Chakravorty’s Dekh Kabira Roya (1957) also became a big hit. After playing the main lead in movies like Talaash (1957), Sanskar (1958), Raj Sinhasan (1958), and Aangan (1959), she witnessed another great success in Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959) which took her career to the new heights. But this success didn’t last very long. 
 
Bharat Bhooshan and Ameeta in Saawan (1959). Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

Ameeta says, “That was the time when a new generation of actresses was entering the film world. To stay in the competition had become very hard. In such circumstances, I had no other option than to turn to character roles after playing the main lead in the movies Saawan (1959), Chhote Nawab (1961), Raj Nandini (1962), Piya Milan Ki Aas (1961), Pyar Ki Dastaan (1961), Pyaase Panchhi (1961) and Hum Sab Ustaad Hain (1965). I did a couple of films like Rakhi (1962), Mere Mehboob (1963), Rishte Naate (1965), Aasra (1966) and Around the World (1967) as a character artist and after Haseena Maan Jayegi (1968), I bid adieu to the film world”. 
(According to Ameeta Ji her last film was Haseena Maan Jayegi (1968). But as per her filmography, she was again seen in 3 movies Kabhi Dhoop Kabhi Chhaon (1971), Mera Shikaar (1973), and Kisan Aur Bhagwan (1974). Therefore, Kisan Aur Bhagwan should be treated as her last release film.) 
 
Ameeta. Image Courtesy: Filmfare, 1957 October


Ameeta Ji's interview took place at her residence at the Seven Bungalows area at Andheri (West). Her mother Shakuntala Devi and daughter Sabeeha were present during our conversation. Sabeeha also acted in a couple of movies viz. Anokha Rishta (1986), Baap Numbari Beta Dus Numbari (1990), Jai Vikranta (1995), Khiladi (1993) and Zaalim (1994) in the 1980s and ’90s. But soon she bid adieu to the films and made a respectable place for herself in the field of jewellery designing. 
 
Shishir Krishna Sharma with Ameeta ji. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

Ameeta Ji still resides at the same place. According to the sources close to her, Shakuntala Devi passed away a few years back and Sabeeha is serving with an airline in some Gulf country. I wanted to contact Ameeta Ji once again to get the updates but after I came to know that she avoids talking to media now, I decided not to bother her.  
Ameeta Ji is going to complete 80 years on coming 11 April.       

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

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