indian cinema heritage foundation

Anju Mahendru

  • Born: 11 January, 1946 (Bombay Presidency, British India)
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi

Anju Mahendru is an actress who started with films, before moving on to character roles, eventually achieving considerable success in a slew of popular teleseries. Born on 11 January, 1946, she started modelling at the age of 13. Discovered as a teenager by poet and lyricist Kaifi Azmi, she was recommended to Basu Bhattacharya. Bhattacharya went on to cast Anju in his directorial debut Uski Kahani (1966). She essayed the female lead, playing Rekha who gives the simple ‘good-for-nothing’ Raju confidence in himself, as he goes on to become a popular comedian, touring the country with his act. He falls in love with her but eventually, when he returns, it is to discover that Rekha’s marriage has been fixed, and it is her wish that he performs at her wedding. 

Mahendru later went on to act in films such as Jewel Thief (1967), Bandhan (1969), Road To Sikkim (1969), Intaqam (1969), and Dastak (1970). However, she was unable to make it as a lead heroine, and accepted character roles. Among the films she featured in are Prem Shashtra (1974), Umar Qaid (1975), Darwaza (1978), Ganga Ki Saugand (1978), Vakil Babu (1982), Pyaas (1982), Shingora (1986), Khatarnaak Irade (1987), Vijay (1988), Hum To Chale Pardes (1988), Muskurahat (1992), Jaan Tere Naam (1992), and Dil Ki Baazi (1993). She went on to enjoy a successful career in television in the 90s. Among the soaps she acted in are Kahin To Hoga, Kasautii Zindagii Kay, Ek Hazaaron Mein Meri Behna Hai, Hamari Betiyoon Ka Vivaah on Zee TV, Geet Hui Sabse Parayi, Ek Hazaaron Mein Meri Behna Hai, Ye Hai Mohabbatein, Rishton Ka Chakravyuh. 

Anju Mahendru was also known for having rejected reigning superstar Rajesh Khanna’s marriage proposal in 1971, as she wished to concentrate on developing her career. Khanna went on to wed Dimple Kapadia two years later; however, Mahendru and Khanna remained close friends till his death in 2012. Mahendru was also briefly engaged to cricket player Gary Sobers of the West Indies.