indian cinema heritage foundation

Yeh Raaten Nayi Puraani - Rita Bhaduri

01 Apr, 2020 | Beete Hue Din by Shishir Krishna Sharma
Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

Rita Bhaduri Passes Away! This news headline which I saw on the morning of 17th July 2018 as soon as I logged into Facebook was a shock for me. What had happened to her suddenly? She was too young to die in my eyes. I couldn’t believe it initially but on contacting common friends in her circle, I found out that the sad news was indeed unfortunately true. I came to know that she had been suffering from diabetes for many years which had taken a toll on her kidneys over the years. In fact, she had been admitted to the ICU during her last few days. 

I met Rita ji in 2003-04 on the sets of Doordarshan’s serial Shikwa through our family friend Alka Ashlesha ji. Alka ji was also playing an important role in that serial. The producer-director Rakesh Chaudhary was the maker of the series and the shooting used to take place at playback singer Hemlata’s bungalow in Andheri (East)’s Millat Nagar Area. It is important to note that the founder member and English translator of Beete Hue Din, Akshar Apoorva, is the daughter of Alka Ashlesha ji. 

The actress Chandrima Bhaduri, Rita Bhaduri's mother. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

Rita Bhaduri’s father Shri Ramesh Chandra Bhaduri was the Commissioner of Estates during the British Era and due to the nature of his job, he used to spend most of his time in the various places of Central India. He finally settled in the city of Indore. Rita ji was born in Indore on 11 January 1950. She was the youngest among three sisters and one brother. She recalled during our conversation, “We had gone to Mumbai during the mid-1950s on a visit. We loved it so much that we left Indore and shifted to Mumbai in 1957. I was only 7 years old at that time. On coming here, my mother Chandrima Bhaduri took up the post of Associate Editor for the Hindi Magazine Navneet. After getting in contact with fellow Bengali families in Mumbai, we started participating heartily in all cultural programs during Durga Pooja. During one such program, during the staging of a play, famous directors Nitin Bose and Bimal Roy appreciated the acting of my mother and offered her roles in their movies Nartaki and Bandini respectively. Both these films released in 1963. My mother’s role as the jail warden in Bandini was appreciated and she became very busy in doing film roles. She went on to act in nearly 30 films including Teesra Kaun (1965), Rishte Naate (1965), Sharafat (1970), Sawan Bhadon (1970), Nanhi Kaliyan (1971), Lal Patthar(1971) and Anand Ashram (1977)”. 
"During the staging of a play, famous directors Nitin Bose and Bimal Roy appreciated the acting of my mother and offered her roles in their movies Nartaki and Bandini respectively. "
Just like her mother Chandrima Bhaduri, Rita Bhaduri also showed an inclination towards acting. She used to be active in theatre from her college days. In 1971, She took admission in the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune where her batchmates included artists like singer Shailendra Singh, Shabana Azmi and Kanwaljeet. After completing the course of two years, she got her first movie Aaina, It was directed by K Balachander and starred Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz as the lead pair. The music was composed by Naushad and the movie released in 1974. 
Rita Bhaduri in Aaina. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

At the same time, her batchmate Mohan Sharma introduced her to South’s top director Setumadhavan. He chose her to play the lead role in his Malayalam movie Kanyakumari (1974). Her hero in the film was Kamal Haasan. After that when he was casting for the Hindi remake Julie (1975) of his Malayalam movie Chattakari (1974), he offered her an important role. She recalled, “the movie Julie proved to be a superhit and so was the music of the movie including the song Ye raatein nayi puraani, kehti hain koi kahaani which was pictured on me. Unfortunately, my role of a sister made me typecast as a character artist henceforth. I performed character roles in movies like Udhar Ka Sindur (1976), Pratima Aur Payal (1977), Anurodh (1977) etc. Meanwhile some such events took place that soon I became the top heroine in Gujarati films.”
Rita Bhaduri in Julie (1975). Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

Actually, Rita ji’s batchmate Paresh Mehta introduced her to renowned personalities of Gujarati cinema, Digant Ojha and Niranjan Mehta. They signed her as the heroine in their Gujarati movie, Lakho Fulani. This 1976 release proved to be a superhit and she became busy with Gujarati films becoming the top actress of the industry. This phase continued for nearly eight years which led to a situation where she even had to settle down in Vadodara. Most of her movies proved to be hit on the box office. These include Kulvadhu (1977), Dikri Ane Gai Dore Tiya Jaye (1979), Kashino Dikro (1979), Diyar Bhojai (1980), Akhand Chudlo (1980), Jagya Tyarthi Savar (1981), Garwi Naar Gujaratan (1981), Alakh Niranjan (1975), Jugal Jodi (1982), Pithi No Rang (1979), Saachun Sukh Saasariyamaa, Kanku Ni Kimat (1983), Maa Na Aansu (1984), Ma Mane Sambhare Chhe (1984).  
A poster of the Gujarati film Lakho Fulani, in which Rita Bhaduri played the heroine. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

She remembered, “During these schedules my career took a sudden new turn. In 1984, producer-director Rakesh Chaudhary came and met me in Vadodara. TV serial industry was in its infancy at that time. He offered me an important role in Doordarshan’s serial Bante-Bigadte which marked my debut in the TV industry in which I soon got immersed in work.” 
Rita Bhaduri acted in numerous TV serials like Khandaan, Mujrim Haazir, Tara, Kumkum, Sanjeevani, Had Kar Di, Ek Mahal Ho Sapnon Ka, Bhaagon Waali, Ek Nayi Pehchaan which made her a well-known face in every household.
Rita Bhaduri acted in numerous TV serials like Khandaan, Mujrim Haazir, Tara, Kumkum, Sanjeevani, Had Kar Di, Ek Mahal Ho Sapnon Ka, Bhaagon Waali, Ek Nayi Pehchaan which made her a well-known face in every household. Even at the time of her demise, her serial Nimki Mukhiya was on air in which she was playing the role of the Dadi (Grandmother). Along with TV She continued to act in movies including Yudhpath (1992), Beta (1992), Aatank Hi Aatank (1995), Ghar Jamai (1992), Rang (1993), Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na (1993), Raja (1995) and Virasat (1997). 

It is a common misconception that Rita Bhaduri is the sister of Jaya Bhaduri which is totally wrong. The truth is that both are not related to each other. In fact, Jaya has a sister named Rita who is a different person married to popular character artist Rajeev Verma whereas (late) actress Rita Bhaduri remained unmarried all her life. A horrifying example of misinformation on the internet is that her Wikipedia page mentions the names of her sons as Shiladitya Verma and Tathagat Verma who are actually the sons of Jaya’s sister Rita and her husband Rajeev Verma. 
A poster of the film Kulvadhu. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

Rita ji was among those artists whom I had interviewed 14-15 years back for my column Kya Bhooloon Kya Yaad Karoon for the weekly Sahara Samay. To maintain the authenticity of the blog Beete Hue Din, before posting that time interviews I try to update the information with the concerned artists or their family members. Among these I try to focus more on retired and elderly artists. As a result, interviews of relatively younger and still active artists like Rita ji are kept in waiting. 

I was an upcoming writer at that time and due to my inexperience then, I did not ask Rita ji about some important details like date and place of birth, family etc. In fact this was one of the reasons that shocked me when I saw the news of her demise. I did not know the details of her family members and didn’t know whom to approach for the updates. On the other hand, misinformation was rampant on the internet. According to her, she was 7 years old in 1957, when they shifted to Mumbai. That means she should have been born in 1950 or 51. However, most of the websites including Wikipedia were claiming her date of birth to be 4th November 1955. There was some doubt about her birthplace as well. According to whatever she told me during the interview, she should have been born in Indore but Wikipedia claimed it to be Lucknow. At this juncture Alka Ashlesha ji suggested that I talk to Rita ji’s sister Ruma Bhaduri.  Ruma ji was also an actress who had acted in a couple of serials. 
A poster of Rita Bhaduri's Gujarati film Kashino Dikro. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

Ruma ji’s phone number was neither with Alka ji nor in the Film Directory. In this situation, once again, I contacted the Cine and TV Artist Association – CINTAA. Ms. Shweta Aayre, who works in the CINTAA office informed me that as per their records, Rita Bhaduri was born on 1st November 1951. She also gave me Ruma Bhaduri’s number though Shweta did point out that a cross was marked against that number. When enquired with Shri Anil Gaikwad, a veteran of over 24 years in the CINTAA office about this cross mark, he informed me that Ruma ji passed away many years back, thus the mark. It appeared as if all doors for getting updates had closed when suddenly I was reminded of Shubhuda, Shubhankar Ghosh. The director of the movie Woh Chokri (1994), which won three National Awards. The son of famous screenplay writer and Bengali author (Late) Shri Nabendu Ghosh, he is popularly called Shubhu and as our big brother or Dada, he is affectionately called Shubhuda. 

He gave me not only the full details of Rita ji’s family but also the phone numbers of her elder sister and brother. Rita ji’s eldest sister is named Raka Mukherjee. Her husband Barun Mukherjee is a well-known camera man who has the movies like Chakra (1981), Gehrayee (1981), Baghban (2003) and Baabul (2006) to his credit. 

Ruma Sengupta (nee Bhaduri), the middle sister, had worked with Times of India and the magazine Dharmyug as sub editor for a long time, apart from being an actress. She had worked as a child artist for the film Nanhi Kaliyan (1971). Nearly three decades later, she was seen in the serial Kahin Kisi Roz. She had also played the role of the Dadi in the movie Na Ghar Ke Na Ghaat Ke which released in 2010. Her husband Shankar Sengupta used to work in an Ad Agency. After her sad demise on12 July 2013, he shifted to Kolkata and now stays there. 
A poster of Na Ghar Ke Na Ghaat Ke. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

Their brother Randev Bhaduri who was younger to Ruma ji is a well-known camera man in Gujarati films and stays in Vadodara. Rita Bhaduri was the youngest among them. Randev Bhaduri’s wife i.e. Rita ji’s Bhabhi Smt Tandra Bhaduri told me that Rita ji was born on 11th January 1950, in Indore. Thus, the date of birth on Wikipedia as well as in CINTAA records was incorrect. She also told me that her mother-in-law actress Chandrima Bhaduri passed away on 6 June 1997, while Rita ji’s father i.e. her father-in-law had passed away in 1980. 

The internet appeared to be the only source for collecting the details of Rita Bhaduri’s Gujarati movies. Internet Movie Database or IMDB did mention a few but the truth of internet was already in front of me. It was not easy for me to write their names in Hindi/Devanagari with the correct Gujarati pronunciation. In this situation, famous Gujarati writer-translator-blogger Shri Biren Kothari who is based in Vadodara came forward. He sorted out all the doubts about her Gujarati movies during a long telephone conversation. 

Even after the interview, I met Rita ji 4-5 times during the annual meetings of CINTAA and she greeted me very warmly on each occasion. As my writing endeavors increased, my social activities and interaction with other artists gradually reduced. And then I suddenly got this news! It took me nearly 15 days to update this 15 year old interview. Our blog Beete Hue Din is extremely grateful to Ms Alka Ashlesha, Ms Shweta Aayre and Anil Gaikwad of CINTAA office, director Shubhandar Ghosh (Shubhuda), Ms Tandra Bhaduri and Gujarati writer Biren Kothari ji for all their help. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Shri Anil Gaikwad has been my strength since the time I started writing my column Kya Bhooloon Kya Yaad Karoon for Sahara Samay. Whenever needed, he not only used to extract information regarding forgotten elderly artists like their names, phone numbers and addresses from very old registers kept in CINTAAs almirahs but also used to suggest the names of artists to interview. This helpful approach of his continues to this day and thanks is a very small word to express my gratitude towards him.    

(Part of Shishir Krishna Sharma's Beete Hue Din blog series.)

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