Sadhana in 2014
2 September 1941
Karachi, Sindh, British India
(now in Sindh, Pakistan)
|Died||25 December 2015
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
|Cause of death||Cancer|
|Burial place||Cremated at Oshiwara crematorium, ashes scattered|
|Residence||Santacruz, Mumbai, India|
|Other names||Mystery girl|
|Alma mater||Jai Hind College|
|Known for||Bollywood films and songs|
|Notable work||Films like Hum Dono (1961 film), Asli-Naqli , Woh Kaun Thi , Waqt (1965 film), Mera Saaya (1966 film), Anita (1967 film) and songs like, Lag Ja Gale, Naina Barse Rhim Zhim, Aap kyon royen, Abhi Na Jao Chhodkar, Tu Jahan Jahan Chalega, Jhumka Gira Re, Tera Mera Pyar Amar, Tujhe Jeevan ki Dor Se|
|Spouse(s)||R. K. Nayyar (m. 1966; d.1995)|
|Relatives||See Shivdasani family|
|Awards||Lifetime Achievement Award|
Sadhana Shivdasani (2 September 1941 – 25 December 2015), also known by the mononym Sadhana, was a popular Indian Hindi film actress, who was one of the most beautiful and the top actresses in the 1960s, a period regarded as Bollywood's "golden era". She was the highest paid actress of her time.
Shivdasani appeared in the Sindhi language film Abaana and entered the Hindi film industry through the 1960s romantic film Love in Simla. Her fringe haircut became popular during the 1960s and came to be known as the "Sadhana cut".
She became famous with her three suspense thriller films; Woh Kaun Thi? (1964), Mera Saaya (1966) and Anita (1967), all directed by Raj Khosla. She was nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress for films Woh Kaun Thi? and Waqt in 1965 and 1966 respectively. She took retirement from the film industry in the mid-1970s before which she also directed and co-produced a few films. She was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for being a legendary actress in Bollywood. She was diagnosed with cancer and died on 25 December 2015. The famous romantic song Lag ja gale, which was picturized on her, is still popular in these days.
Born in a Sindhi family in Karachi, British India on 2 September 1941, Sadhana was named after her father's favorite actress-dancer Sadhana Bose. Her father was the elder brother of actor Hari Shivdasani, father of actress Babita.
The family migrated from Karachi during the post-Partition riots and settled in Mumbai. Her mother home-schooled her until she was 8 years old, after which she studied at Auxilium Convent, Wadala and Jai Hind College.
Early career (1955-1960)
Sadhana aspired to be an actress since childhood. Her father helped her enter films. In 1955 she played a chorus girl in the song "Mur mur ke na dekh mur mur ke" in Raj Kapoor's Shree 420. When she was 15 years old, she was approached by some producers who had seen her act in a college play. They cast her in India's first Sindhi film titled Abaana (1958), where she played the role of Sheila Ramani's younger sister.
A photograph of her publicizing Shree 420 appeared in the movie magazine Screen. It was then that Sashadhar Mukherjee, one of Hindi cinema's leading producers at that time, noticed her. She joined Mukherjee's acting school along with her debutant co-star Joy Mukherjee. Sashadhar’s son. R.K. Nayyar, who had previously worked as assistant director on a few films, directed this film. He also created her trademark look, called the Sadhana cut, inspired by British actress Audrey Hepburn. The Filmalaya Production banner thus introduced Joy, Sadhana and her iconic hairstyle in their 1960 romantic film Love in Simla. The film was declared a hit at the box office and was listed in the top 10 films of 1960. During this period she would again work under the same banner opposite Joy in Ek Musafir Ek Haseena.
Established Actress (1961-1969)
Besides Love in Simla, Sadhana was signed by acclaimed director Bimal Roy for his satirical film on Indian democracy; Parakh. She portrayed a simple village girl in this multi-award-winning film. In 1961's other hit, Hum Dono, she played the love interest of Dev Anand. This black-and-white film was colourized and re-released in 2011. Rediff.com in the film's review writes about Sadhana: "Her eyes, expressive and captivating, do most of the work, while she balances out her submissiveness with a firm tongue." The duet "Abhi na jaao chhodkar" from the film Hum Dono is regarded as "the most romantic song" by actor Shah Rukh Khan and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
Author Amit Chaudhuri in an essay comparing cultures, says that Sadhana's curious expressions in the song denote listener's peculiar ecstasy while in other cinemas it would mean sex or love. In 1962, she was again paired with Dev Anand in Asli-Naqli by director Hrishikesh Mukherjee. The same year saw director-screenwriter Raj Khosla cast her opposite Joy in Ek Musafir Ek Hasina. Khosla would again work with Sadhana to make a suspense thriller trilogy.
In 1964, she played a double role in the first of the suspense-thriller trilogy; Woh Kaun Thi? This white-sari-clad performance opposite Manoj Kumar earned her first Filmfare nomination as Best Actress. Through this role she got to be part of Lata Mangeshkar – Madan Mohan’s songs "Naina barse" and "Lag ja gale". Rediff.com called her a show-stopper "with an intriguing Mona Lisa-like smile". The film was a box office hit. Raj Khosla cast her in two more successful mystery films; Mera Saaya (1966) and Anita (1967) thus making her famous as the "Mystery girl". Mera Saaya, a box office Superhit, a courtroom drama film, again saw her playing a double role, now opposite Sunil Dutt. The song "Jhumka gira re" sung by Asha Bhosle and composed by Madan Mohan saw Sadhana perform dance steps choreographed by Saroj Khan. Khan was then an assistant to dance director B. Sohanlal. The song became so popular that excited audience in cinema halls used to throw coins at the screen, and is one of the most requested songs on the radio.
Sadhana got her second Filmfare nomination as Best Actress for the role of Meena, in Yash Chopra's directorial saga Waqt (1965). She stood out in Bollywood’s first ever ensemble cast by bringing out the fashion of tight churidar-kurtas. The film proved to be 1965's "blockbuster hit". Her other notable works in the 1960s include performances in Rajkumar (1964), Dulha Dulhan (1964), Gaban (1966) and Budtameez (1966).
Retirement From Acting
Sadhana had health issues due to her thyroid, which she got treated in Boston. After returning from the US, she starred in the successful movies Intaquam (1969), Ek Phool Do Mali (1969), Aap Aye Bahaar Ayee (1971), Dil Daulat Duniya (1972) and Geeta Mera Naam (1974).
In Intaquam she played the role of a woman who revengefully lures the son of her own boss who cheated her, to be put behind the bars for a crime he did not commit. In 1974, her directorial venture Geeta Mera Naam was released. Produced by her husband, the film had herself playing the lead actress along with Sunil Dutt and Feroz Khan. It was also Saroj Khan's first film as an independent dance director. A non-lexical vocable from the song "Mujhe maar daalo" of this film appears in the song "People" which features in American rapper J Dilla's album Donuts (2006).
After that, she retired from acting, as she did not want to be cast as a side-actress or do character roles. Later, she and her husband formed a production company. She also produced the movie Pati Parmeshwar, starring Dimple Kapadia in 1989.
Sadhana married her Love in Simla director Ram Krishna Nayyar on 7 March 1966. Their love blossomed on the film set. But as she was very young then, her parents opposed it. They were married for nearly thirty years, until his death in 1995 from asthma. The couple had no children. Sadhana's had became pregnant with Ram Krishna's child but miscarried that became a problem to both of them.
She suffered from eye problems due to hyperthyroidism. After her retirement from acting, she refused to be photographed. Living in Santacruz, Mumbai, she rented an apartment building owned by singer Asha Bhosle.
Sadhana introduced the fringe hairstlye in the Indian film industry in her first film Love in Simla. R.K. Nayyar, director of the film and her future husband, suggested the fringe style in order to make her forehead look narrower. Sadhana says: "They tried to stick a strip near the hair-line, but it didn’t work out." Nayyar then suggested she go for the fringe style as was then sported by the Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn. The fringe soon became popular and a fashion fad in the 1960s.
The style was copied by girls in India and is still known by the same name. The look suited the role of naughty, pretty, glamorous Sonia that she played. But when Sadhana went on the shoot for Bimal Roy's Parakh, Roy was disappointed to see her modern look. She had to stick her fringe back in order to match the simple village girl she played here. In 1963, when she signed to play a role of a simple Muslim girl from Aligarh in Mere Mehboob, Sadhana undid her famous "Sadhana cut" to fit the bill. She had centre-parted her hair and wore it in a plait, which was immediately discarded by the director H.S. Rawail. He said that the audience wanted to see her signature "Sadhana cut" and demanded it. Recently, the Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone sported the same fringe in her films Om Shanti Om (2007) and Chandni Chowk To China (2009).
Sadhana is also credited for bringing into fashion the tight churidar-kurta. She went with this concept of gracefully changing the traditional loose salwar kameez to her director Yash Chopra for the 1965 film Waqt. Chopra felt insecure and thought that it would not be accepted. But Sadhana, with the help of her fashion designer Bhanu Athaiya showed him a sample, which he liked. The trend lasted well into the 1970s and can be seen, adopted by many actresses.
In a song sequence of "Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte" for Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008), actress Bipasha Basu dressed herself in a white churidar-kurta and also frolicked with the famous fringe as a tribute to Sadhana.
In 2014, Sadhana made a rare public appearance walking the ramp in a pink sari at a fashion show to support the cause for cancer and AIDS patients. She was escorted by her relative, actor Ranbir Kapoor.
Despite the fact that many of Shivdasani's films fared very well at the box office, she did not receive any of the leading awards of the film industry. She was nominated for the Filmfare Award in Best Actress category for her roles in Woh Kaun Thi? and Waqt.
During her later years, Sadhana was involved in court cases and suffered from illness. She had undergone an emergency surgery due to a bleeding oral lesion in December 2014 at the K J Somaiya Medical College.
Sadhana died on 25 December 2015 in Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai after being hospitalised with high fever. Although the illness she briefly suffered from was officially undisclosed, a family friend confirmed Sadhana had cancer. Her funeral was attended by several Bollywood celebrities like Asha Parekh, Helen (actress), Salim Khan and Deepti Naval. Sadhana's final rites were performed on 26 December and she was cremated at Oshiwara crematorium. Bollywood stars like Anushka Sharma, Karan Johar, Madhur Bhandarkar, Lata Mangeshkar and several others expressed their sorrow at the loss. 
|1955||Shree 420||Chorus girl||Cameo role in the song "Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh"|
|1958||Abana||First Sindhi film|
|1960||Love in Simla||Sonia|
|1960||Parakh||Seema||Hit Song "O Sajna Barkha Bahar"|
|1961||Hum Dono||Mita||Hit Song "Abhi Na Jao Chodkar"|
|1962||Prem Patra||Kavita Kapoor|
|1962||Ek Musafir Ek Hasina||Asha|
|1962||Asli-Naqli||Renu||Hit Song "Tere Mera Pyar Amar", "Tujhe Jeevan Ki Durse"|
|1963||Mere Mehboob||Husna Banu Changezi||Hit Song "Mere Mehboob Tujhe Meri"|
|1964||Woh Kaun Thi?||Sandhya / Seema (Double Role)||Nominated: Filmfare Award for Best Actress
Hit Song "Lag Ja Gale Ke Phir", "Jo Humne Dastan Apni",
"Naina Barse Rim Jhim"
|1964||Rajkumar||Princess Sangeeta||Hit Song "Aaja Aai Bahar"|
|1964||Dulha Dulhan||Rekha / Chanda|
|1965||Waqt||Meena Mittal||Nominated: Filmfare Award for Best Actress|
|1965||Arzoo||Usha||Hit Song "Bedardi Balma Tujhko"|
|1966||Mera Saaya||Geeta / Nisha (Raina) (Double Role)||Hit Song "Jhoomka Gira Re", "Mera Saaya Saath Hoga"|
|1966||Gaban||Jalpa||Hit Song "tum bin sajan"|
|1969||Intaquam||Reeta Mehra||Hit Song "Hum Tumhare Liye, geet tere saaz ka"|
|1969||Ek Phool Do Mali||Somna|
|1970||Ishq Par Zor Nahin||Sushma Rai||"yeh dil deewana hai, sach kehti hai duniyaa"|
|1971||Aap Aye Bahaar Ayee||Neena Bakshi||Hit Song "Mujhe Teri Mohabbat Ka"|
|1972||Dil Daulat Duniya||Roopa|
|1974||Geeta Mera Naam||Kavita / Neeta / Geeta (Double Role)|
|1981||Mehfil||Shalini / Ratnabai (Double Role)||Delayed Release|
|1994||Ulfat Ki Nayee Manzeelein||Delayed release|
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