indian cinema heritage foundation

Laxmi Chhaya

Artists
  • Died: 9 May, 2004
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi
  • First film: Talaaq (1958)
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TalaaqGrabbing eyeballs as the masked dancer in the gold dress doing the twist in the song Jaan pehechan ho from Gumnaam (1965), Laxmi Chhaya was known for her dances and supporting roles in films. Other memorable songs in which she features include Awara ae mere dil from Raat Aur Din (1967), Maar diya jaye from Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971), Apni prem kahaniyaan from Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971), and Main sharaab bechti hoon from Raaste Ka Patthar (1972). She worked in both Hindi and Marathi cinema in over 100 films such as Gumnaam (1965), Teesri Manzil (1966), Duniya (1968), Aya Sawan Jhoom Ke (1969), Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971), and Raaste Kaa Patthar (1972). She garnered attention for her role as Meena in Teesri Manzil, as Laxmi in Duniya (1968) and as Rita in Aya Sawan Jhoom Ke (1969), and as Munnibai, the young girl who works undercover for a dacoit, in Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971). Retiring from films in 1987, she opened her own dance school, where she taught dancing to underprivileged children. 

Laxmi Chhaya was born on 7 January, 1948. As a child, she started off playing a school girl in Talaq (1958) in an uncredited appearance, bagging the role by chance when she happened to be visiting the sets of the film and was selected by director Mahesh Kaul to be in it. She went on to play a character named Bela in Naughty Boy (1962). In 1965, she made a guest appearance in Gumnaam. Her dance performance to Jaan pehechan ho, along with Herman Benjamin became the rage, gaining a cult following not only in India but in America as well. Deemed to be her signature performance, decades later Laxmi Chhaya is hailed for pulling it off with ease and grace, which even contemporary stars would find difficult. 

She played Meena in the film Teesri Manzil (1966), which starred Shammi Kapoor and Asha Parekh; a film that won praise for its songs, story and cast. Appearing in critically acclaimed films such as Ram Aur Shyam (1967), Baharon Ke Sapne (1967), Upkar (1967), and Raat Aur Din (1967), the following year she starred as Laxmi in Duniya (1968). Starring in a supporting role as Rita in the Asha Parekh-starrer commercial hit Aya Sawan Jhoom Ke (1969), she also featured in the film Pyar Ka Mausam (1969). She delivered one of her best performances in the commercial and critical success Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971), playing Munnibai, a girl who works undercover for a dacoit. She was also part of the main cast in Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Raaste Kaa Patthar (1972), also featuring in the song Main sharaab bechti hoon. This was followed by Do Chor (1972) and Bindiya Aur Bandook (1972). Laxmi Chhaya went on to make more guest appearances in Do Phool (1973), Dhoti Lota Aur Chowpatty (1975), Sharafat Chod Di Maine (1976), Haiwan (1977), Paijjecha Vida(1979), and Parakh (1981). 

While Laxmi Chhaya had been cast in a few films as leading lady, unfortunately for her, they never released. These include Jahan Jagey Wahan Savera opposite Dharmendra’s brother Kumar Ajit, and a Vikram-starrer titled Jinki Duniya Mein Roshni Nahin Hoti.

Retiring from the film industry in 1987, she opened her own dance school, to train children hailing from impoverished backgrounds. Laxmi Chhaya passed away battling cancer on 9 May, 2004, aged 56.