Kamini Kaushal at Jaipur, 2011
16 January 1927
Lahore, Punjab, British India
|Years active||1946 to ;present|
Kamini Kaushal (born 16 January 1927) is a Hindi film and television actress, most noted for her roles in films like Neecha Nagar (1946) which won the 1946 Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) at Cannes Film Festival and Biraj Bahu (1955) which won her the Filmfare Best Actress Award in 1955. She played lead heroine in films from 1946 to 1963 wherein her roles in Do Bhai, Shaheed(1948), Ziddi, Shabnam, Nadiya Ke Paar, Arzoo, Paras(1949), Namoona, Jhanjar, Aabru, Night Club, Jailor, Bade Sarkar and Godaan are considered her career's best performances. She played character roles since 1963 and was critically acclaimed for her performances in Shaheed (1965),in 3 films of Rajesh Khanna like Prem Nagar, Do Raaste, Mahachor and with Sanjeev Kumar - Anhonee (1973 film) and 8 films with Manoj Kumar.
Kamnini Kaushal was born Uma Kashyap in Lahore on January 16, 1927. She was the youngest among two brothers and three sisters.  Kamini Kaushal was the daughter of Prof Shiv Ram Kasyap Professor of Botany, Punjab University at Lahore, British India (now in Pakistan). Prof Kashyap is widely regarded as father of Indian Botany. Her father was a distinguished botanist who discovered six species of plants.While she was only seven when her father died on November 26, 1934. She did her B.A. (honours) in English literature from Kinnaird College in Lahore. She got an offer to act in films through Chetan Anand in 1946 for the film Neecha Nagar.
She quoted in an interview, talking about her teenage days, “I had no time to fool. I didn’t have any crush, I was busy swimming, riding, skating and doing radio plays on Akashwani, for which I was paid Rupees 10." When her elder sister died in a car accident, leaving behind two daughters, Kaushal decided to marry her brother-in-law, B.S. Sood, in 1948 and she set up home in Bombay where her husband was an chief engineer in the Bombay Port Trust. Her elder sister's daughters are Kumkum Somani and Kavita Sahni. Kumkum Somani has written a book for children on Gandhi's philosophy and Kavita Sahni is an artist. Kamini had 3 sons after 1955, from her marriage with B.S.Sood - Rahul, Vidur and Shravan.
Kamini had been a stage actress in Delhi during her college days from 1942-45. She worked as a radio child artist with her name as Uma in Lahore, before the Partition, from 1937-40. She said in an interview about whether she wanted to be an actress in her childhood "I come from a very intellectual family. My dad, S R Kashyap, was a professor at Government College, Lahore and the President of the Science Congress. He’d written about 50 books on botany. Growing up, our family concentrated more on knowledge but he never deterred us from doing anything we wanted as long as it was positive." Though she had no dreams in joining film industry while being in college but was fan of actor Ashok Kumar.Once she said in an interview “We were to perform for the war relief fund in college. Ashok Kumar and Leela Chitins were the chief guests. After the show we went to meet him. I thought of having some fun. As he stood talking to the students, I pulled his hair from behind."
Chetan Anand gave her the role of the leading heroine in his film Neecha Nagar. This movie was done by her before marriage and released in 1946. She quoted in an interview, when asked about why her name was changed from Uma to Kamini, “Chetan’s wife Uma Anand was also part of the film. My name also being Uma, he wanted a different name for me. I asked him to give me a name beginning with ‘K’ to match with the names of my daughters Kumkum and Kavita.” She won an award at the Montreal Film Festival for her performance in her debut film. She quoted in an interview about how she got her debut film, ""Ravi Shankar was new, he had not done music for anybody. It was Zohra Segal's debut. Uma Anand (Chetan's wife) was with us in college — we were together. Chetan had been teaching at The Doon School and got to me through my brother.".
After Neecha Nagar she returned to Lahore but offers started coming in hence she used to come for shooting from Lahore. After her sudden marriage in 1947, she settled in Bombay with her husband. She became the first leading heroine to continue working as lead film heroine post her marriage as well.Kamini was one of the first well educated heroines (BA in English) in Hindi cinema. She learnt Bharatnatyam at Mumbai's Sri Rajarajeswari Bharata Natya Kala Mandir, where Guru T. K. Mahalingam Pillai, doyen among nattuvanars, taught. Since 1948 Kamini Kaushal worked with all the top leading men of her time such as Ashok Kumar, Raj Kapoor , Devanand and Dilip Kumar.
In every film starring her as lead heroine, except when it was opposite Ashok Kumar, in the period 1947 to 1955, her name used to appear first in the credits before the leading hero's name appeared. Her pairing opposite Dilip Kumar was popular with audiences with box office hits like Shaheed (1948), "Pugree", Nadiya Ke Paar (1949), Shabnam (1949) and Arzoo (1950)). The popularity as an actress increased with Filmistan's Do Bhai (1947), aided by Geeta Roy's impassioned singing of songs like Mera sundar sapna, which, incidentally, was shot in a single take. Kamini paired opposite Dev Anand in his very first success, Bombay Talkies production Ziddi (1948), a light romance. The pair followed this up with Namoona. Kamini played the third angle to the Dev-Suraiya pair in Shayar.In Raj Kapoor's directorial debut Aag (1948), she did a cameo as one of his three heroines (Nargis and Nigar were the other two) whose relationship with the hero doesn't fructify. She also starred with Raj Kapoor in Jail Yatra.
Kamini Kaushal was the first lead heroine for whom Lata Mangeshkar ever sang for. It was for the film Ziddi in 1948.Kamaini quoted in an interview " Lata sang for me in Ziddi for the first time. That was the first time she sang for the leading lady in a film. Before that, she sang for actresses in supporting roles.Shamshad Begum and Surinder Kaur—whose voices had more base—used to sing my songs. On the music credits on the record, Lata's name was not mentioned. Instead, it was mentioned that Asha sang the songs—Asha was my screen name( in film Ziddi). That's why people thought I had sung it.
Her other successful films as lead heroine in films from 1946 to 1963 include Ziddi, Paras(1949), Namoona, Jhanjar, Aabru, Night Club, Jailor, Bade Sarkar, Bada Bhai, Poonam and Godaan. Kamini became a producer and signed on then matinee idol Ashok Kumar in Poonam and Night Club. She did light hearted roles in Chalis Baba Ek Chor (1954) and also did tragedy genre serious roles in Aas, Ansoo and Jailor.In the Sohrab Modi-directed Jailor (1958), Kamini gave a goose pimple raising performance as Modi's wife who is pushed towards adultery by his ruthless tyranny. Trilok Jetley, who adopted Premchand's famous story Godaan on screen, put his film on hold, while Kamini was pregnant with her second child, because he wanted to capitalise on the softness in her voice. Pandit Ravi Shankar composed the score for her first (Neecha Nagar in 1946) and last (Godaan in 1963) films as a heroine.
In 1965 she moved to playing character roles with a film called Shaheed. She made the transition from playing leading heroine roles to character roles very easily.Her performances were appreciated in Waris, Vishwas, Yakeen, Aadmi Aur Insaan, Gumrah, Uphaar, Qaid, Bhanwar, Tangewala, Heralal Pannalal. As a character artist she was a fixture in seven Manoj Kumar films - Shaheed, Upkar, Purab Aur Pashchim, Sanyasi, Shor, Roti Kapa Makan, Dus Numbari and Santosh(1989). Kaushal has had a long stint in films with releases till 2014 She stunned audiences by playing a mercenary vamp with aplomb in the film Anhonee(1973). Kamini Kaushal played mother to Rajesh Khanna in Prem Nagar in 1974 and in Mahachor in 1976 and as sister in law to Khanna in Do Raaste.
Dilip Kumar in his biography has admitted his attraction to her while they acted in films together but Kamini rejected his proposal as she was already married to her elder sister's widower and was taking care of her elder sister's kids. Dilip said that she was his first love. Kamini quoted in an interview on this, “We were both shattered. We were very happy with each other. We shared a great rapport. But what to do? That’s life. I can’t dump people and say ‘Enough now, I’m going!’ I had taken on the girls. I wouldn’t be able to show my face to my sister. My husband, a fine human being, understood why it happened. Everyone falls in love.”
She made a popular puppet show broadcast on the national channel at the time, “Doordarshan” which ran for a year (1972–73) and was the first such children’s series in Hindi. She stepped into writing children's stories. Her stories used to be published in the children's magazine Paraag, featuring the antics of ‘Bunty’, and ‘Chotbhai’ and ‘Motabhai’ – who were all loosely based on her own son and his cousin contemporaries. She dabbled in television doing serials like Chand Sitare on Doordarshan. In 1986, Kaushal made an animation film Meri Pari.
She appeared in "The Jewel in the Crown" (1984), a popular British television serial, as Aunt Shalini.
Kaushal worked in the highly popular serial, Shanno Ki Shaadi on STAR Plus. She played the role of Bebe, the grandmother of Shanno, the main protagonist played by Divya Dutta. She also acted in Sri Adhikari Brothers' TV Serial 'Waqt Ki Raftaar' (DD National).
- 1956: Filmfare Best Actress Award: Biraj Bahu
- 2013: Kalpana Chawla Excellence Award
- 2015: Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award
|Neecha Nagar (1946)||Rupa|
|Jail Yatra (1947)|
|Do Bhai (1947)|
|Aag (1948)||Ms. Nirmala|
|Nadiya Ke Paar (1948)|
|Bikhre Moti (1951)|
|Raja Ratan (1953)|
|Chalis Baba Ek Chor (1954)|
|Biraj Bahu (1954)||Biraj Chakravarty|
|Radha Krishna (1954)|
|Bade Sarkar (1957)|
|Bada Bhai (1957)|
|Night Club (1958)|
|Great Show of India (1958)|
|Bank Manager (1959)|
|Go Daan (1963)||Jhuniya|
|Shaheed (1965)||Mrs. Kishan Singh|
|Janam Janam Ke Saathi (1965)|
|Bheegi Raat (1965)||Pushpa|
|Upkaar (1967)||Bharat's Mother|
|Aanchal Ke Phool (1968)||Maya|
|Meri Bhabhi (1969)|
|Ek Shriman Ek Shrimati (1969)||Rama|
|Do Raaste (1969)||Madhavi Gupta|
|Yaadgaar (1970)||Bhanu's Mother|
|Purab Aur Paschim (1970)||Bharat's Mother|
|Ishq Par Zor Nahin (1970)|
|Heer Raanjha (1970)|
|Bhikhre Moti (1971)|
|Shor (1972)||Shankar's Mother|
|Haar Jeet (1972)|
|Ek Mutthi Aasmaan (1973)|
|Roti Kapda Aur Makaan (1974)||Bharat's Mother|
|Prem Nagar (1974)|
|Do Jhoot (1975)|
|Apne Rang Hazaar (1975)|
|Nehle Pe Dehla (1976)|
|Maha Chor (1976)|
|Dus Numbri (1976)||Arjun's Mother|
|Chandi Sona (1977)|
|Swarg Narak (1978)||Vinod's mother|
|Rahu Ketu (1978)|
|Heeralal Pannalal (1978)|
|Dil Aur Deewar (1978)|
|Bagula Bhagat (1979)|
|Do Shatru (1980)|
|Gulami Ki Zanjeerain (1987)|
|Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega (2003)|
|Chori Chori (2003)||Beeji|
|Laaga Chunari Mein Daag (2007)|
|Chennai Express (2013)||Rahul's Grandmother|
- Braham S. Sood; B. K. Karanjia (2000). An alien in Bollywood: an autobiography (of the spouse of Kamini Kaushal). UBS Publishers' Distributors.
- Biraj Bahu awards, Internet Movie Database
- "Kamaini Kaushal". Telegraph. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- "Entertainment » Kamini Kaushal". Filmfare. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- "College Botany" by Ganguli, das and Dutta (Calcutta 1972)
- Stars At Home – Kamini Kaushal, "cineplot.com"
- "Entertainment » Kamini Kaushal". Rediff. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- "Entertainment » Kamini Kaushal". Rediff. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- "Life dedicated to dance". The Hindu. January 3, 2003.
- "Hindi cinema still has a place for the Bimal Roy kind of films", Rediff.com
- idiva.com/news-love--dating/rules-of-arranged-dating-before-marriage/4654 2003
- Excerpts from Dilip Kumar’s biography, Dilip Kumar: The Star Legend of Indian Cinema by Bunny Reuben, The Tribune, December 21, 2003.
- Kamini Kaushal, legend, Rediff.com, February 18, 2003.
- Kamini Kaushal: Kal Aaj Aur Kal, Rediff.com, October 11, 2007.
- Kamini Kaushal 2008 Interview "nowrunning.com."
- "Veteran actress Kamini Kaushal to receive Kalpana Chawla Excellence Award". The Indian Express. September 24, 2013.