Nimmi birthday special (2)

I sometimes cannot believe how I have met some of the best and most talented men and women in my life and the circumstances I have met them in….


I had heard about a writer named Ali Raza who I had learnt was the writer or one of the writers of great Hindi films like Aan, Andaaz, Mother India , Reshma Aur Shera, Raja Jani and Dus Numbri among others . I had a silent and secret ambition of meeting him one day to satisfy my urge to meet as many good writers as possible …..


I was at the muhurat of a big film at the Mehboob Studio in Bandra . There were hundreds of celebrities who had gathered in the compound and as if in answer to my wish someone told me that the man standing in the distance dressed all in white was Ali Raza , one of the writers of Mughal E Azam. From that moment nothing and no one mattered to me , I just wanted to meet Ali Raza . I went to him and introduce myself and I was taken aback when he said , ” aap Ali hai , main aapka har article aur aapka column padta hoon ” I was floating in some unknown sky . And what was more interesting was that he asked me to have lunch with him in his house in Worli .

His house on a lonely hill was called “Summit” and when I walked in I was delightfully shocked to see that the lady who was serving us with biryani was the well-known actress NImmi and I kept looking at her and wondering whether this simple woman was the same star Nimmi who was loved and admired by millions down the years . I asked her if I could talk to her for a few minutes and she said , ” pahle aap biryani ka maza lijiye, phir main aapko chai pilaati hoon , phir baate karte hai ” . My day which had begun on a bright note after meeting Ali Raza had now turned into a celebration with the doe- eyed Nimmi agreeing to talk to me …..


And in the next 45 minutes , she told me the entire story of her life in chaste Urdu and what more could I ask her ? To take away any discomfort for me , Ali Raza went to his own room and stayed there till we had finished our conversation ……

Nimmi was born in a middle class Muslim family in Allahabad and had hardly gone to any school . One of her relatives was known to Mehboob Khan who was shooting for Andaaz those days with Dilip Kumar , Raj Kapoor and Nargis . Mehboob’s friend invited Nawab and her friends to watch the shooting of Andaz and Nawab who had come to Bombay for the first time was dazzled by the world of showbiz. To add to her excitement , Raj Kapoor who had a sharp eye for talent asked her if she would work in his film Barsaat . One thing let to another and Nawab was transformed into Nimmi and cast as the other heroine in Barsaat with Premnath cast to play the  lover who decieves her . She had some of the best songs and she could even play the simple village girl . The film and it’s music turned out to be major hits and the new actress Nimmi was on the way to the top .


In the next few years , she was playing the leading lady with Dilip Kumar with whom she did five films , Dev Anand and other leading heroes of the time and she was the delight of the entire nation and even Pakistan , but she was still the Nawab , the simple girl from Allahabad . It was this simplicity that attracted Ali Raza and within a matter of time Nimmi and Ali Raza had got married  and shifted to Ali Raza’s house “Summit” on that lonely hill in Worli .


Nimmi however didn’t stop working and was seen in a wide variety of roles in different kinds of films like” Angulimal” and “Mere Mehboob” in which she had Rajendra Kumar,  Sadhana and Ashok Kumar in other key roles  . Her beautiful eyes could still work miracles and even move mountains , monsters and moghuls. And she continued rulling the waves in her own ways .

Then came the most jinxed film in her career . K Asif had signed her as the leading lady of his film” Love And God” with Guru Dutt as the hero . Asif had hardly shot a few scenes when Guru Dutt committed suicide and left the film in a lurch.   Asif then cast Sanjeev Kumar and Asif himself died of a heart attack . Asif’s sister tried to complete the film with the help of the well-known producer K C Bokadia and before the film could make any more progress Sanjeev Kumar died . Nimmi was the only one left of the original cast and the film was released in its truncated version and as expected , it flopped miserably and that marked the positive end of Nimmi’s career as an actress …..


Ali Raza died in 2007 and Nimmi couldn’t think of living alone in that bungalow on the hill and finally sold it off and moved into an apartment in a building called “Neha”  facing the Juhu Beach . She lived here for 20 years and the only time she moved out was to attend one of the functions organised by my friend , Dr Trinetra Bajpai, a chemical engineer of the highest class who loved films , music and books . The launching of Dr Bajpai’s coffee table book on Dilip Kumar was the last public function she attended and met some old friends like the sister of Dilip Kumar and Dharmendra .

Her fragile health was not the same again . And one morning she complained of acute breathlessness and was rushed to a local hospital where she breathed her last breath in the evening. Her funeral during the lockdown was held at the Kabristan where her friend Meena Kumari was buried……


We have heroines and then more heroines today , but frankly do we have iconic actresses like Nimmi who have left their stamp behind for today’s plastic and technology manufacturerd actresses we have today who are most of them all body and no soul. I know some girls and their godfathers may beg to differ with me and all I can tell them is switch on your T V sets or your smart phones and watch some films or at least some songs of Nimmi and you will know why I am saying what I am saying.