Monday, December 28, 2015

YASHODHARA KATJU .. A FORGOTTEN BOLLYWOOD ACTRESS OF KASHMIRI ORIGIN


                                                                      



YASHODHARA   KATJU ( Born 1927 ) .. A FORGOTTEN ACTRESS  OF INDIAN CINEMA

She belonged to a reputed Kashmiri Pandit  family from Lahore that had  moved to Lucknow,    where her father Sh Jeevan Lal  Katju, was appointed on a senior  Administrative position  by the  British  Government. Sh Katju   later resigned  his Government  job and joined  freedom struggle of the country . He was a well known Congress leader from UP. Her Mother's name was Kailashwati ( sister of well known Urdu poet and Judge  of Allahabad High court Late Anand Narain Mulla ).

Yashodhra was fondly called as CHUNNU by her parents.  Other members of this Katju family were her brothers Moti Lal katju , Pyare Lal Katju  and her three sisters Chandra ( Manno) , Usha ( Panno ) and Manorama . Manorama ( Journalist and former Editor of film Journal Screen  )  married a European  Journalist named Harold Phillip Mcleod Walter while  Usha was  married to  Prakash Narain  Masaaldaan ( a kashmiri Brahmin ).Katju family was closely related to Nehrus , Mullas ( Anand Narain Mulla and Dars of Allahabad / Lucknow ).

Yashodhara studied in English medium schools and was fluent in English , Hindi and urdu. Apart from that, she was a highly  talented girl who  was equally well versed with   singing  and  dancing  .  For some time she also joined Bhatkhande Music Institute lucknow  to learn music  but devoted more time to dancing and got herself  trained  as a professional dancer   ( kathakali , katahk  and Manipuri )   from some Masters of  Lucknow . Later she took dancing lessons in Bombay as well.

According to Dr Sunil Kothari ,

“With help of Kathak Guru Mohanrao Kallianpurkar ,  Pandit Sundar Prasad( kathak Maestro of Jaipur Gharana ) started Bindadin Maharaj School of Kathak named after the great Kathak guru Bindadin Maharaj near Babulnath Temple in Mumbai. It attracted a few young female dancers like Nalini Jayant, who later on became a well known film star, and Yashodhara Katju who also joined films.”

 All this apart , this talented girl nursed a desire from her childhood to join films and accordingly, much against the wishes of her family , she moved to Bombay in 1941. The family  is reported to have sought intervention of   Pandit Jawahar Lal  Nehru also  to dissuade her from joining films but she proved adamant. Katjus were     closely related to Pandit  Jawahar lal Nehru’s family . It is said that Chander Mohan Wattal ,  another actor of that period  too  tired to dissuade her from acting in films  but she remained adamant. Her parents finally consented  to her decision and ensured a boarding and lodging for her in Bombay .

Prior to her , Shyama Zutshi was the first kashmiri  Girl who joined films in 1934 (She acted in  Shiv Bhakti  produced in 1934 ).

And in   1941, at a young age of 14 years , she was offered a role in a movie Titled LALAJI produced by National Studios .  The movie was completed in 1942.Her co-actors in that movie were Yakub, A. R. Kabul, Wasker,  Amar, Sunalini, Vatsala Kumtekar, Maya Devi and  Krishnakant .

Between LALA JI (1942 Her  first Movie  )  and DO PHOOL (1973 Her  last movie ) ,she acted in about 85 films . Her co stars included Jagdish Sethi, Pahari Sanyal, Shanta Apte, K. C. Dey,  Manorama ,Motilal, Shobhana Samarth,  Leela Misra, Trilok Kapoor, Sadhana Bose, Khurshid, Kanhaiyalal,  Ulhas, Yakub,  Jairaj,  Rehman, Suraiya,   Prem Adeeb, Nirupa Roy ,Shyam, Suraiya, Kuldip Kaur ( K K ),  Jeevan,  Cuckoo,Bharat Bhushan, Lalita Pawar,  K. N. Singh, Meena Kumari, Jankidas,  Durga Khote,  Mukri, Bhagwan, Jagirdar, Nigar Sultana, Ajit, Pran, Agha, Sunder, Anwar Hussein, Jayant, Shakila, Naseem Bano,  Guru Dutt, Ratan Kumar, Mahipal, Ifftekhar, Bina Rai, Rajendranath,  Helen, Madhubala, Sapru,  ,Sulochana, Sunil Dutt, Meena Kumari, Daisy Irani, Ashok Kumar, Kumkum,   Vaijayantimala, Begum Para,  Kamajit, Tuntun, Balraj Sahni, Devanand , Prem Chopra  , Rajendra Nath , Aruna Irani , Mehmood  and  Rajendra Kumar.

From the younger generation, her co stars included    Rakhee Gulzar, Rakesh Roshan, Hema Malini, Simi Garewal, Kabir Bedi, Zeenat Aman,  Vinod Mehra ,Mumtaz and   Mehmood Junior . She worked with almost all prominent directors in Film industry including S. S. Vasan, Devendra Goel ,GuruDutt,Mohan Segal, P. L.Santoshi ,M.Sadiq ,D. N. Madhok,H.S.Rawail,B. R. Chopra, Rafiq Rizvi,Kishore Sahu,Dev Anand and Mahesh Kaul.

She started as a  co star , moved to lead roles , shifted to comedy ( Mostly with another comedian of her time known as  Bhagwan ) and finally did some memorable performances as a character actress (Seema , Hare Rama Hare Krishna and Do Phool  etc.)  .

  Her close friends included Nalini Jayant , Laita Pawar and Nirupa Roy.Sometime around 1958, she married a Naval officer ( Commander Bhandari ) and lived a happy married life..After 1973, she did not act in films and  slipped into Oblivion .She  died of a sudden  heart attack.


( Autar Mota )
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