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"Ritu Aaye Ritu Jaaye Sakhi Ri" - Nimmi

26 Mar, 2020 | Beete Hue Din by Shishir Krishna Sharma
Nimmi. Image Courtesy: Filmfare, 1957 October 25

With Raj Kapoor’s film Barsaat (1949) an actress extraordinaire along with music composer duo Shankar Jaikishan and prominent songwriters Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri were introduced in Hindi cinema. That name of that actress is still fresh in the mind of the audience and that name is Nimmi. That is another thing that while after Barsaat’s huge success Shankar Jaikishan, Shailendra, and Hasrat Jaipuri became an integral part of the R.K. films’ team, it proved to be Nimmi’s first and last film with this banner. But despite this, because of her appealing beauty and effortless acting, Nimmi was soon enough to create an identity of herself. 
 
"...After the business had taken a bad hit, my father was in search of employment and had to move the entire family to Kolkata where we became very close to A. R. Kardar who used to reside in our neighborhood. Taking pity on our condition, A. R. Kardar gave my father a small role as a judge but as soon as he saw the camera and lights my father got scared and ran away.”
 
Born on 18 February 1933, Nimmi’s father hailed from Meerut. During one of our meetings, Nimmi told me that her grandfather used to be a very rich government contractor after whose death her father could not handle the business too well and eventually lost everything. Nimmi says, “My mother’s maternal hometown Fatehabad was twenty-four miles away from Agra and I was born at my maternal grandfather’s house. After the business had taken a bad hit, my father was in search of employment and had to move the entire family to Kolkata where we became very close to A. R. Kardar who used to reside in our neighborhood. Taking pity on our condition, A. R. Kardar gave my father a small role as a judge but as soon as he saw the camera and lights my father got scared and ran away.”

 
Nimmi. Image Courtesy: Filmfare, 1959 November 6


In that era, playback had not become a trend yet. Actors had to sing their own songs in front of the camera. According to Nimmi, on his wife’s insistence, A. R. Kardar gave Nimmi’s mother Wahidan the role of a jogan and a chance to sing a song which proved to be a turning point in their lives. After seeing that film, the owner of Ranjit Movietone, Sardar Chandulal Shah, called Wahidan to Mumbai on a salary of 500 rupees per month.

Wahidan worked in films like Ranjit Movietone’s Prithvi Putra (1938), Professor Woman M.Sc (1938), Richshawwala (1938), Secretary (1938), Thokar (1939) and Sagar Film Company’s Alibaba (1940) which was directed by Mehboob. But due to sudden health troubles, she had to go back to her maternal hometown Fatehabad where in just a matter of days she passed away. Nimmi was seven years old at that time.

Nimmi says, “My maternal grandfather was a landlord and after my mother’s death I was raised at my maternal grandparents’ house. By that time my aunt (mother’s younger sister) Sitara had also stepped in the film world and was known as Jyoti. Jyoti had worked in films like Sagar Movietone’s Comrades (1939), Ek Hi Rasta (1939), National Studios’ Aurat (1940) which was directed by Mehboob, and Sanskaar (1940) and Vijay Bhatt’s Darshan (1941). She was married to singer-actor G. M. Durrani.”
 
Image Courtesy: Filmfare, 1956 July 20


 (Despite our best efforts, we could not verify the name of the A. R. Kardar film which was made in Kolkata where Wahidan had faced the camera for the first time. On the other hand, as per the famous Kathak dancer Sitara Devi, Wahidan was a famous singer in Agra and Mehboob had heard her singing at Ajmer Sharif Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Dargah’s yearly Urs and had called her to Mumbai. According to Sitara Devi she herself had given the name Jyoti to Wahidan’s younger sister Sitara)
 
Raj Kapoor saw Nimmi on the sets of Andaz (1949) and offered her an important role in his film Barsaat (1949). And so, began Nimmi’s film career...Raj kapoor had given Nimmi, whose real name is Nawab Bano, her screen name Nimmi in the film Barsaat (1949).
As per Nimmi, after the country gained its independence she had to go to her aunt and uncle’s place in Mumbai in fear of the ensuing riots. She was around fifteen years old at that time. Mehboob knew Nimmi from before because of Wahidan and Jyoti and hence one day he called her to see the shoot of his film Andaz  (1949) at Central Studios, Tardeo. One of the two male leads of the film Andaz (1949), Raj Kapoor was also producing and directing the film Barsaat (1949) at that time.

Raj Kapoor saw Nimmi on the sets of Andaz (1949) and offered her an important role in his film Barsaat (1949). And so, began Nimmi’s film career. Prem Nath was paired opposite Nimmi in Barsaat and the famous songs Jiya beqaraar hai, Barsaat me hum se mile tum sajan and Patli kamar hai tirchhi nazar hai were shot on Nimmi. Raj kapoor had given Nimmi, whose real name is Nawab Bano, her screen name Nimmi in the film Barsaat (1949).

In a career spanning almost seventeen years, Nimmi worked in a total of forty-six movies. After Barsaat (1949), she did not get a chance to work in any of R. K. films again but she was paired opposite Raj Kapoor in Durga Pictures’s Baawra (1950). After films like Jalte Deep (1950), Raj Mukut (1950), Wafa (1950), Badi Bahu (1951), Bedardi (1951), Buzdil (1951), Saza (1951), Sabzbaag (1951) her next big success was the film Deedar (1951). She got the chance to work with Dilip Kumar for the first time in this film.

Nimmi worked in a total of five films with Dilip Kumar, viz. Deedar (1951), Aan (1952), Daag (1952), Amar (1954) and Uran Khatola (1955). Except Amar (1954), all these films were very successful, although, Amar (1954) did gain a lot of critical acclaims. Where Dev Anand was paired opposite Nimmi in Saza (1951) and Andhiyaan (1952), she did five films - Badi Bahu (1951), Sabzbaag (1951), Humdard (1953), Shikaar (1955) and Chhote Babu (1957) opposite Shekhar.
 
Dilip Kumar and Nimmi. Image Courtesy: Filmfare, 1959 January 16 


Nimmi had also sang a song Nanadiya jaane de na, mori janam janam ki preet ri composed by Roshan in film Bedardi (1951), whereas Aan (1952) was India’s first technicolor film and was actress Nadira’s first film. According to Nimmi her character in the film Aan called Mangala had become so famous that the film’s Tamil and English versions were released as Mangala in many places.
 
Waheeda Rehman, Nimmi, and S Ali Raza. Image Courtesy: Filmfare, 1966 May 27


Nimmi’s films Basant Bahaar (1956), Sohni Mahiwal (1958) and Angulimala (1960) with Bharat Bhooshan were much liked as well. Her career was at its peak in the 1950s. During the 1960s she worked as the main lead, parallel lead and character artist in movies like Shama (1961), Mere Mehboob (1963), Daal Me Kala (1964) and Pooja Ke Phool (1964). Sensing the changing tides of time, after the film Aakash Deep (1965), she married Ali Raza who was the dialogue writer for films like Aan (1952), Andaz (1949), Amar (1954), Mother India (1957) and who also directed the film Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye (1974). After her marriage, she retired from her film career.

During the beginning of the 1960s, producer-director K. Asif had started making a film with Guru Dutt and Nimmi called Love and God (1986) based on the story of Laila Majnu but had to stop its shooting due to the demise of Guru Dutt in 1964. After some time, K. Asif called Sanjeev Kumar in place of Guru Dutt and started the shooting of the movie once again. But due to the sudden demise of K. Asif in 1971, the film Love and God  (1986) remained incomplete. After the efforts of producer-director K. C. Bokadia, the film was released fifteen years later in 1986, and subsequently, this proved to be Nimmi’s last film.
 
Nimmi and Sanjeev Kumar in Love and God (1986). Image Courtesy: Filmfare, 1970 August 28


Nimmi used to live in Worli but had shifted to Juhu Tara Road a few years back. She lives all alone after Ali Raza's demise in 2007. Nimmi might have broken her ties with the cinematic world but, even today, she enthusiastically participates in a number of functions associated with the Hindi cinema. 

[part of Shishir Krishna Sharma's Beete Hue Din blog series. This conversation was published before Nimmi passed away on 25 March 2020.]

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