indian cinema heritage foundation


  • Real Name: Nanda Karnataki
  • Born: 08 January 1939 (Kolhapur)
  • Died: 25 March 2014 (Mumbai)
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi
  • Parents: Master Vinayak , Sushila

The darling of the Indian audience, Nanda is still remembered fondly for her shy smile, and the sweet simplicity of her features. Nanda was born on 8 January 1939 in Kolhapur to a family already well-connected to the world of films. Her father was Master Vinayak, an esteemed director, producer, singer and actor in Marathi films of the time. Before she could express her own interest in acting, she was cast by her father in the film Mandir when she was merely five years old. Sadly, he died while the film was still in production. To sustain the family’s finances, Nanda was made a child actor in films. She also became a radio and stage actor alongside. 

For her outstanding performance in the Marathi film Shevagyachya Shenga (1955), Nanda received accolades from then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Nanda also worked in eight Gujarati language films. Her paternal uncle, V. Shantaram, gave her her first big break in Hindi cinema with Toofan Aur Deeya (1956), which became a huge hit. Her role in Bhabhi (1957) was also showered with praise for the strength of her performance, earning her a Filmfare Awad nomination. She played the lead in films like Chhoti Bahen (1959) and Kanoon (1960). She also appeared in films like Dhool Ka Phool (1959), Kala Bazar (1960), Hum Dono (1961), and Teen Deviyan (1965). She went on to win the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress for Aanchal (1960).  

Though Nanda was commended for her acting prowess, she could not explore her abilities to the full. With her sweet, innocent face, she was soon typecast as the loving sister, sister-in-law, or docile wife. Nanda appeared in nine films alongside Shashi Kapoor, including the super-hit film Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965). She had a run of successful films in this period, with Gumnaam (1965), Neend Humari Khwab Tumhare (1966), Dharti Kahe Pukar Ke(1969) and The Train (1970). 

In Ittefaq (1969), she played a negative character, but this was not well received by the Indian audiences. She continued to act in films like Chhalia (1973), Naya Nasha (1973), Asliyat (1974), Jurm Aur Sazaa (1974), and Prayashchit (1977). However, her lucky streak seemed at an end, and she decided to withdraw from films for a while. 

She came back to the screen at Raj Kapoor’s request in Prem Rog (1982). In the very next year, she also fulfilled her lifelong wish to work with Dilip Kumar in Mazdoor (1983). When Nanda was at the peak of her career, the filmmaker Manmohan Desai proposed marriage to her. When she refused, he chose to marry someone else. Years later, when his wife had passed away, Manmohan Desai renewed his offer of marriage to her. This time, Nanda accepted, and the two were engaged to be married. The ill-fated alliance continued to be delayed. Before they could be married, Manmohan Desai died in an unfortunate accident, and Nanda chose to remain unmarried. At the age of 73, Nanda suffered a fatal cardiac arrest on 25 March 2014.