Nandini Karnataki (8 January 1939 – 25 March 2014),[1] known mononymously as Nanda, was an Indian actress who appeared in Hindi and Marathi films. Regarded as one of the finest actresses of Indian cinema, her career spanned over 30 years. She is best known for her performances in Chhoti Bahen, Dhool Ka Phool, Bhabhi, Kala Bazar, Kanoon, Hum Dono, Jab Jab Phool Khile, Gumnaam, Ittefaq, The Train and Prem Rog.[2][3]

Nanda at a party in Kenya, 1970
Nandini Karnataki

(1939-01-08)8 January 1939
Died25 March 2014(2014-03-25) (aged 75)
Years active1948–1983
AwardsFilmfare Best Supporting Actress Award for Aanchal (1960)

Early life


Nanda was born in a Maharashtrian show-business family to Vinayak Damodar Karnataki (Master Vinayak), a successful Marathi actor-producer-director. Master Vinayak was related to many personalities in the Indian film industry. His brother Vasudev Karnataki was a cinematographer while noted film personalities Baburao Pendharkar (1896–1967) and Bhalji Pendharkar (1897–1994) were his half-brothers. He was also a maternal cousin of legendary film director V. Shantaram.[4] Master Vinayak was a good friend of the Mangeshkar family and introduced Lata Mangeshkar to the film industry[5] in his movie Pahilee Mangalagaur.[4]

Her father died in 1947, aged 41 when Nanda was seven years old.[6] The family faced hard times. She became a child actress, helping her family by working in films in the early 1950s. As a result of her involvement in movies, her studies suffered, and she was coached at home by renowned school teacher and Bombay Scouts commissioner, Gokuldas V. Makhi. By taking up a career in films, she supported and educated her six siblings.[citation needed] One of her brothers is Marathi film director Jaiprakash Karnataki who is married to actress Jayshree T.[7]



Child actress and Supporting roles

Nanda (aged 9) with actress Shanta Apte in the film Mandir

Nanda made her debut with Mandir in 1948. On the silver screen, she was first recognized as "Baby Nanda". In films like Mandir, Jaggu and Angaarey, She was a child actor from 1948 to 1956.[8] Nanda's paternal uncle, the renowned film producer-director V. Shantaram gave Nanda a big break by casting her in a successful brother-sister saga; Toofan Aur Diya (1956). It was the saga of an orphaned brother and sister that are buffeted by a series of tragic setbacks, including the girl losing her sight. She received her first nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress for Bhabhi (1957), she claimed that the reason she did not win was that there was lobbying involved.[9] She played supporting roles to stars such as Dev Anand in Kala Bazar (1960),[10] and played the second lead in Dhool Ka Phool (1959). Earlier in her career, she acted in many Marathi films. These include Kuldaivat, Shevgyachyaa Shenga directed by Shantaram Athavale, Deoghar directed by Raja Paranjpe, Zalegele Visrun Jaa directed by Yashwant Patekar, and Aai wina baal with Hansa Wadkar. Nanda was honored by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for her sister's role in Shevgyachyaa shenga.[citation needed]

Leading Lady


She played the title role in L.V. Prasad's Chhoti Bahen (1959). The film was a big hit, making her a star.[11] In this commercially successful 1959 film, Nanda played the blind younger sister looked after by two elder brothers, played by Balraj Sahni and Rehman.[12] She then played lead roles, such as one of Dev Anand's heroines in Hum Dono (1961) and Teen Deviyan. Both films were acclaimed as hits. She was the heroine in B.R. Chopra's Kanoon (1960), a film with no songs, which was then rare.

She won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress for Aanchal (1960), her first and only win at the Filmfare Awards. She was paired with Raj Kapoor in Aashiq (1962) and she worked with Rajendra Kumar in three films – Toofan Aur Diya (1956), Dhool Ka Phool (1961) and Kanoon (1960). She had quoted in one of her interviews: "Many of my great performances were in films that failed or did average business, like Usne Kaha Tha, Char Diwari, Nartaki, and Aaj Aur Kal."[13]

Nanda was known to encourage newcomers. She signed eight films with Shashi Kapoor at a time when he was yet to become successful in Hindi Cinema. Their first two films as a pair – the critically acclaimed romantic film Char Diwari (1961) and Mehndi Lagi Mere Haath (1962) – did not work, but the rest were successful at the box office.[14][failed verification] Shashi, though he had achieved success in English films in 1963 and in two Hindi films in 1965, had five flops as solo lead hero from his debut in 1961 till 1965 in Hindi films. In Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965), Nanda played a westernised role for the first time and it helped her image.[15] Her favorite song that was famously picturized on her in the film was "Yeh samaa." Shashi would later declare that Nanda was his favorite heroine. Nanda, too, declared Kapoor as her favourite hero. In the period 1965 to 1970, the successful films of the pair Shashi-Nanda include Mohabbat Isko Kahete Hain (1965), Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965), Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare (1966), Raja Saab (1969) and Rootha Na Karo (1970). In the early 1970s, Nanda suggested Rajendra Kumar, co-producer of The Train, to take Rajesh Khanna as the main lead.[16]

She had another hit film in 1965 with Gumnaam, which helped put her in the top league of heroines.[11] With Dharmendra, she worked in Mera Kasoor Kya Hai and Akashdeep. She played lead heroine roles beginning with Choti Bahen and Kanoon from 1959 to 60 and continued to get roles as the main female lead till 1973. She signed with new leading man Rajesh Khanna in the songless suspense thriller Ittefaq (1969), for which she received her first and only nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress and also proved to be successful at the box office. After Khanna became a superstar, he signed two more films with her; the thriller The Train (1970) and the comedy Joroo Ka Ghulam (1972) which became hits. Jeetendra, too, had some hit films with her such as Parivar and Dharti Kahe Pukar Ke, with Sanjay Khan, she had a hit in Beti and Abhilasha The three films Ittefaq, The Train and Joru Ka Ghulam – earned more than her earlier hits opposite Shashi Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar, Dev Anand, Sanjeev Kumar and Jeetendra.[17]

Later career and supporting roles


After a small role in Manoj Kumar's Shor (1972), Nanda did a few more critically acclaimed films such as Chhalia (1973) and Naya Nasha (1974), which flopped. Work offers for Nanda dried up from 1973 as her pairing with other younger actors such as Navin Nischol, Vinod Mehra, Deb Mukherjee and Parikshit Sahni did not work.,[13] and she then stopped acting. In the early 1980's, she had a career comeback with three successful films, all coincidentally having her play Padmini Kolhapure's mother in Ahista Ahista (1981), Raj Kapoor's Prem Rog (1982), and Mazdoor (1983), receiving two nominations for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress for the first two films, post which she permanently retired.[18]

Earnings and ranking

Nanda in 2010

Nanda, who has done some notable work in Bollywood films such as Dhool Ka Phool, Dulhan, Bhabhi, Jab Jab Phool Khile, Gumnaam, Shor, Parineeta, and Prem Rog and was one of the highest-paid actresses of her time. She was the second highest-paid Hindi actress, along with Nutan from 1960 to 1965, the second highest-paid Hindi actress from 1966 to 1969 along with Nutan and Waheeda Rehman, and the third highest-paid Hindi actress with Sadhana from 1970 to 1973.[19]

Personal life

Nanda (first from left) with Waheeda Rehman, Helen, and Sadhana, in 2010

In 1965, while filming in Kashmir for Jab Jab Phool Khile, director Suraj Prakash recalled that a Maharashtrian lieutenant colonel had been smitten by Nanda and had asked him to forward his marriage proposal to her mother. In the end, nothing came of it. Nanda's brothers brought home many suitors for her, but she turned them all down.[20]

In 1992, a middle-aged Nanda became engaged to director Manmohan Desai at the urging of Waheeda Rehman. But soon he died after falling from the terrace of his rented flat in Girgaon, just a year after her mother died of cancer. According to reports, the railing he was leaning on collapsed. Nanda remained unmarried.[21]

Nanda lived in her residence in Mumbai, interacting only with family and very close friends. Her close friends from the film industry included Waheeda Rehman, Nargis, Asha Parekh, Helen, Saira Banu, Mala Sinha, Sadhana, Shakila and Jabeen Jaleel.[22] After a long hiatus, she made a public appearance with Rehman for a screening of the Marathi film Natarang (2010).



She died in Mumbai on 25 March 2014 at her Versova residence, aged 75, following a heart attack.[23] She is survived by her nephew Swastik Karnatki and great-nephew Karan Gurbaxani who are both directors in Mumbai.

Selected filmography

Films as actor
Year Film Role(s) Notes
1952 Jaggu Child artist
1954 Angarey
1956 Toofan Aur Deeya Nandini
Devghar (Marathi)
1957 Bandi Shankar's Daughter
Bhabhi Lata
Agra Road
Sakshi Gopal
1958 Dulhan Sadhana
1959 Barkha Parvati
Zara Bachke
Qaidi No. 911 Gita
Chhoti Bahen Meena
Dhool Ka Phool Malati
Naya Sansar
Pehli Raat
1960 Aanchal Chanda
Apna Ghar
Chand Mere Aja
Jo Huwa So Bhool Jao
Kala Bazar Sapna
Kanoon Meena Prasad
Usne Kaha Tha Kamli
1961 Amar Rahe Yeh Pyar Razia Hussain
Char Diwari Lakshmi
Hum Dono Ruma
1962 Aashiq Renu
Mehndi Lagi Mere Haath Rajani
1963 Nartakee Lakshmi
Aaj Aur Kal Rajkumari Hemlata/Hema
1964 Kaise Kahoon
Mera Qasoor Kya Hai
1965 Akashdeep Roma
Bedaag Manju
Jab Jab Phool Khile Rita Khanna
Mohabbat Isko Kehte Hain Rajani
Teen Devian Nanda
Gumnaam Asha
1966 Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare Nishad
Pati Patni Gauri
1967 Parivar Meena
1968 Abhilasha Ritu
Juaari Saroj
1969 Beti Sudha Verma
Dharti Kahe Pukarke Radha
Raja Saab Poonam
Ittefaq Rekha
Badi Didi Bhavna
1970 Rootha Na Karo Neeta
The Train Neeta/Geeta/Kalavati/Priya
1971 Woh Din Yaad Karo Tara
Adhikar Meera
Umeed Delayed
1972 Shor Geeta Special Appearance
Joroo Ka Ghulam Kalpana
1973 Chhalia Suneeta / Neeta
Naya Nasha Reena
1974 Jurm Aur Sazaa Ricky
1977 Prayashchit Rita/ Ramma
1980 Qatil Kaun
1981 Ahista Ahista Sangeeta
1982 Prem Rog Virendra's wife
1983 Mazdoor Radha

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
1958 Filmfare Awards Best Supporting Actress Bhabhi Nominated
1961 Aanchal Won
1970 Best Actress Ittefaq Nominated
1982 Best Supporting Actress Ahista Ahista Nominated
1983 Prem Rog Nominated


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  9. ^ [1], Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  10. ^ "Dev's women!",, 25 September 2003.
  11. ^ a b "". Box Office India. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  12. ^ "Remembering Nanda: 10 best films".
  13. ^ a b [2] Archived 28 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  14. ^ "".
  15. ^ "Nanda Height - Pictures Videos Bollywood Actress". Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  16. ^ Profile, Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  17. ^ "5 interesting lesser known facts about Bollywood actress Nanda - The Times of India". The Times of India. 25 March 2014.
  18. ^ "Yesteryear actress Nanda passes away at 75".
  19. ^ "5 interesting lesser known facts about Bollywood actress Nanda". The Times of India. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  20. ^ Profile, The Times of India. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
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  22. ^ "With Nanda's death, I have lost a very good friend: Actor Mala Sinha - Hindustan Times". Archived from the original on 29 March 2014.
  23. ^ Death of Indian actress Nanda, Retrieved 30 March 2014.