ALI PETER JOHN
The sixties and the early seventies saw the first signs of women rising in revolt against all that was wrong against woman. Angry young women walked out into the streets raised slogans , sang angry songs of revolt and even burnt bras in public to give expression to their anger . The revolt was read by women writers, painters and actors. The impact of the revolt was felt all over the world and India was no exception.
Tanuja, the daughter of Shobhna Samarth ( to play Suta in Ram Rajya, the only film seen by Mahatma Gandhi ) and the youngest sister of the versatile actress Nutan was one of them.
She was perhaps the first Indian actress who smoked and drinked in public but never let her habits affect her work.
She was as good as her sister , but she did not get the kind of opportunities her sister got and this could have been one of the reason why she was bitter and sometimes spoke out her views on various subjects and people and was not liked by men but she didnt care and lived life large and on her own terms.
I have been an ardent admirer of Tanuja both as an actress and a woman wbo has always cared to hood’s for what society says about her.
She has not received her due as an actress even though she has come up with some very amazing performances, specially in films like ‘Anubhav, ‘Masoom” and “Nadaniyaan”. She has worked with some of the best directors from Bimal Roy to Shekhar Kapoor. She has also worked with heroes like Kishore Kumar, Dharmendra, Sanjiv Kumar , Jeetendra and Rajesh Khanna with whom she did two big hits like ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’ and ‘Mere Jeevan Saathi” . She could be very blunt and I remember how when Rajesh Khanna has died, I had asked her what she thought about the one- time superstar and she had said, ‘ I don’t know why people loved him so much.
Who she said was the same actor with the same mannerisms in every film’. And then she said what I least expected , ‘ I didnt like him at all because he kept digging his nose ‘. The only actor she had all the resoect for was Sanjeev Kumar and said, ‘ I wish I could do many more films with him’.
She had done what was to be her last film as a leading lady in ‘ Ek baar muskura do ‘ with Joy Mukherjee and his brother Dev Mukherjee as the two heroes. It was during the making of the film that she fell in love with Shumu Mukherjee and married him, which marked the end of her career as a leading lady and she had to switch over playing the mother and other kinds of character roles.
She was the mother of Kajol and Tanishka. She didnt want her daughters to take to acting , but now it was their time to break rule and Kajol made a great debut and never looked back till she fell in love with her co-star Ajay Devgan and married him, but continued to play some of the best roles any young actress has played.
Tanuja came back from her retirement and played a very striking role in a Marathi film called,’Eitrrinn” in which she had to play a bald widow and shaved off her hair to give the role a touch of reality.
She is 77 now and loves living her life her own way in her beautiful housr called Groto Villa where she lives with Tanishka and when the noise of Mumbai drives her mad, she drives down to her palm house in khandala where she is a neighbour of Dharmendra.
I have met her several times and not once have I seen her as a gloomy or frustrated old woman. Tanuja is a life that is the best gift to life
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