Saturday, September 27, 2008

Whatever happened to....... Sulakshana Pandit


This is one of the saddest interveiws ever! It's so bad that she has been so badly treated by life, such a famous actress of her time who lives like she has never earned or done anything in her life!

I hesitate to enter the open doorway before me. Surely no one could be living here. The walls are bare, the rooms bereft of furniture, clothes lie strewn all over the floor. A door on the right leads to the kitchen, in which I can see only a gas stove. A meal couldn't have been cooked here in months. As I move warily into the living room, my escort addresses a figure on the four-seater sofa that has obviously seen better days. "There's someone to meet you." The face that looks at me is familiar. But a far cry from the Sulakshana Pandit I knew, a woman who loved piling on the make- up, the clothes, the jewelery. The woman in front of me is dressed in a faded nightie teamed with a salwar, her neck weighed down by a massive brass figurine of Balaji hanging on a nada . The one thing that's intact about Sulakshana is her complexion. She may well have just stepped out of the beauty parlor after an expensive facial. Her glazed eyes try to focus on the unaccustomed sight of a visitor and when I introduce myself, she excuses herself to freshen up. I look around the living room. It is a large one by Mumbai standards--two flats have been combined to make up one comprising around 2000 square feet. Parts of the false ceiling have given way. There are no lights or fans. A wall unit stands, bare. A huge Ganpati calendar is stuck on the wall near a window that opens onto the sea. Returning, Sulakshana leads me to a smaller room. Here, too, pieces of cloth lie scattered on the floor. A wall cupboard has obviously been removed from the room, but a full length mirror still dominates a wall. She promptly heads for it to check her face. And then gestures me to sit down on the floor for a chat. (In her heyday spots boys probablt rushed to get her chairs and now she can't even provide her company any!)

"How I wish I'd won some prestigious awards so that film-makers and music directors would know that I'm still around," she sighs (She did get the Filmfare award in 1976 for best Femal Singer for "Tu Sagar Hai" from Sankalp)
. "Somehow, I stopped getting work quite some time ago. But people still tell me that I have a good voice and that I should return to playback singing. "Whenever I'm alone, I go to my shack on the beach and sing with my harmonium or tanpura. I know I can no longer return to lead roles in Hindi films but my voice is still good." In her days, Sulakshana acted in over 50 films with the top heroes and banners of the time. She sang most of her own songs and, apart from the solos, had the opportunity to sing with Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi, Mukesh and Manna Dey.

She longs to sing again. "I'd feel highly obliged if my brothers (composers Jatin-Lalit), Anu Malik or A R Rahman gave me a chance," she says softly. "My brothers feel I'm not big enough a name today. I agree that they needed to work with
well- established singers like Kavita Krishnamoorthy and Alka Yagnik when they were just starting out and needed to find a foothold in showbiz. But once they'd done that, they could have given me some songs to sing. Lataji is still going strong at 70-plus. I'm only 40-plus. If they'd helped me out, I wouldn't be in the situation I'm in today. But I'm glad that the singers my brothers have worked with have brought them popularity." She then recalls the day Jatin had come over to show her his new car. "He asked me whether I'd like to keep it. Of course I couldn't. As it is, I hardly go out. He needs it more. I love Jatin, he's the son I never had," she smiles faintly. And says in an aside, "I wish they'd been given Devdas to score. They would have been ideal since we belong to Kolkata and they have the necessary classical background." A long pause. Then, tears welling up, she gasps, "I've been very upset ever since my mother passed away three years ago. A very spiritual lady, she was the one who provided me with strong moral support all through my life. There's been no one to look after me since. Zindagi veerana ho gayee hai. Wiping her eyes, she continues, "I know it's said that I'm pagal but that's not true. Music is constantly on my lips. And like so many other singers, I use my hands freely while singing. Is that pagalpan? Well, dil to pagal hai hi. Those who call me insane are just jealous of me. By the grace of God, I'm okay."

Sitting up suddenly, she says with a determined look, "It was from my mother that I learnt never to give up. Even after my father left us, she single-handedly brought up the seven of us-- three brothers and four sisters. I looked after my brothers and sisters, I did whatever my mother asked me to do for them, no questions asked. But I'm not God, I'm just a human being. I've learnt that helping your family is fine but that you have to think of yourself and your last days too." For now, she has her elder sister, Maya, and her 20-year-old nephew Varun living with her. She tells me pointedly, "But I haven't asked anyone for money. Roti-dal to kha hi leti hoon. I've done a lot for others. I'm confident that when I die, my brothers and sisters from the film industry will mourn me. The colleagues I worked with were always nice to me, they respected me. In fact, they're upset that I no longer have a car or even a telephone. But I'm above such material things." How does she manage to survive? By Sulakshana's account, Jatin and Lalit give her some money every month. Her sisters--Vijayeta and Sandhya--help, too. Vijayeta provides the rations and visits her while Sandhya pays her electricity bill, she says.

Tears flood her eyes yet again as she veers off into a memory and confides: "I
loved Sanjeev Kumar so much. He was so nice. He'd given me a set made with yellow sapphires. But he spoiled my life. One day, after his bypass operation, we had gone to a Hanuman mandir in Delhi. I told him that I loved him and asked him to put sindoor in my parting. I told him to marry me so that I could look after him. But he refused, saying that he could never forget his first love, Hema Malini. He used to cry for her. His death shattered me." She reflects, "Life is so short. Why fight? Each one of us has to go some day. What do you get by hurting others? Why get into yeh tera hai, yeh mera hai? Iske saath kaam karo, uske saath nahin. Why such politics? That's a dirty game. Keep away from it." Music is her only solace, she says. Whenever reality gets too much to bear, she sings herself a song from Hum Dono; she calls it the song of her life:

Mein zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya Har fikra ko dhuen mein udata chala gaya Barbadiyon ka sog manana fizul tha Barbadiyon ka jashna manata chala gaya Jo mil gaya ussiko muqaddar samajh liya Jo kho gaya main usko bhula ta chala gaya Gham aur khushi mein farqa na mehsus ho jahan Mein dil ko us maqaam pe laata chala gaya... Her song plays in my mind as I prepare to make my exit. She waits with me for the lift. "It was nice speaking to you," she smiles. "Dil halka hua."

- Meera Joshi

More on Sulaskshana from Wikipedia:
She was forced to put it up for sale, and it remained on the market for several months, until finally her former leading man Jeetendra came to her rescue by convincing his brother-in-law to purchase the flat. From the proceeds of the sale, she was able to pay off her debts and purchase three apartments.Her sister Vijeta Pandit and brother-in-law, music composer Aadesh Shrivastava took her in and are helping her get back on her feet. Aadesh has indicated that he was composing a devotional album for Sulakshana.Recent update: Unfortunately, Sulakshana has since been able to retain only one of the new flats, as an older brother and other sisters stole most of the proceeds from the sale of her flat.

I truly wonder what crime she committed in what lifetime that she is paying for them in this lifetime!

30 comments:

JJC said...

wow, thats so sad..

A said...

Sad, indeed. Good effort to bring her interview for readers. Thanks

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

What a brilliant interview.
I just found your blog, and am adding you to my blog roll.

memsaab said...

So glad to see you are posting again! :-)

Thanks for articles like these, sad as they might be. It's interesting to see what happens to people after the arc lights go out.

Anonymous said...

I am Very Sad after reading her story, she had struggled so much only his co star jeetendra has come forward to help her in such a big indusrty strange.
Moreover her own brothers jatin and lalit being such a big music directors not giving a break for her to come back as a singer once again since she had a very beautiful voice.I had never expect as well no body expects such things from her own brothers.
I would like to know her where abouts if any body helps me i will be very much thankful to them if not atleast pass my regards to her where ever she is, may be she will be having unaccountable fans but i feel i am a true fan of her. God bless her.

Thanks
Best Regards,

ABDUL WAHEED

Pamela Rachel Fernandez said...

This is really a sad interview. If they make it in the tinsel town they make it but if they don't an example is Ms Pandit.

Hope things will go fine for her and God Bless her

Anonymous said...

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BINA PAUL said...

just read sulakshana pandit interview. very sad....but also
inspirational. she is a mature, well-grounded and good person, not
so commonly found in the carzy and wild world of show business. she is
also a very good singer. i pray to god that she gets a chance to come back and sing some more. having been moulded and enriched with her painful life experiences, her voice will surely reach deep into listeners' hearts. my best wishes and may god bless her!

Sanjeev Thakur said...

Best interview from humanatarian point of view. I am sulakshna ji's fan right from the very begining of her career. She has a beautiful heart and soul as her face and melodious voice. It is shame for all the music directors who are boasting of searching talents through talent hunts in reality shows on TV but neglecting the so much talented singer who has already proved herself. May i be of any help to her ?
Sanjeev Thakur singhsanjeev77@rediffmail.com

Devanshi said...

I was reading about Sanjeevkumar and from there came to know about Sulakshana Pndit. I have not seen any movies of her but reading your blog made me felt sad for her.

I must say you have written it so well.

Anonymous said...

I used to be a fan of her.but today I really felt very sad reading this interview.

Anonymous said...

Is there no such brave music director in India who can re-launch her? Shame on those stupid music directors they are giving chances those bloody singers who can shout only.

Indian Recipes said...

It's really sad :(

Mir Ajaz said...

She is my all time favourite actress.i have a desire of meeting her in my lifetime.

Anonymous said...

I am moved . What a great actress. I loved all her movies.it is sad how our film industry forgets its golden stars

Anonymous said...

when i saw sulakshana pandit in 1970s and 1980s,i never in dreams could have imagined even that one of the leading ladies of that time will have to see terrific days like this.she so sincerely brought up her siblings,spending all her income,parents atleast should have guided her to save some money for herself.in indian society our parents pay little attention to the earning issue thinking he/she will earn and make up,but sadly god does not give opportunities to the same person life long.on top of that sanjeev kumar finished himself and his would be wife.sulakshana should have married,i can understand her love for him ,but still she should have married.......what a wretched time for her.my suggestion to sulakshana would be to look for a life partner not just not allow this life to go adrift.she will have to take the life by the horns now atleast.i am amazed why family members of her did not insist for her marriage.i can understand when her mother was alive ,she could have given her solace but now that she is no more there,she need to marry somebody for a life partner.i have no connection to talk to her otherwise i could have tried my best to persuade her to marry and come out of that living hell.my email is akash2033@yahoo.com.

sonia sandhu said...

Money is evil most of the times. One must get married and have yopur own family. Soporting your brothers and sisters and not getting married just ruin the relationship as you make them greedy . YOu can still love them and help as much as you can at times. BUT NO WE TRY TO BE SAINTS AND GIVE UP OUR OWN LIFE IN BRINGING THEM UP as our mother or father wanted that and then we are left all alone in older age when we need a companion the most and those brothers and sisters are busy in their life Still hots of to you Vijayta pandit for taking care of your sister. Really so sad to hear all this and remembering her as such a beautiful attractive star of yesterday with such a beautiful smile. Take care dear.

sonia sandhu said...

Sorry i realised i had so many spelling mistakes in my previous post i was just so sad to learn about this beautiful actress that i kept on writing without checking what i have typed kindly bear with me. Thanks.

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akash said...

hi sonia!i totally agree with ur comment.i share ur feelings for sulakshana pandit word by word.recently i came to learn that sulakshana is staying with her sister vijeta pandit,and she got hip fracture.i am so sad to hear.i ma all praise for vijeta pandit,but i request her to show sulakshana to some psychiatrist so that she comes out of her shell and lead a normal life by saying good byes to her sad memories.i pray to god to make sulakshana normal....akash2033@yahoo.com

Amit Chitnis said...

A small yes from Sanjeev Kumar could have lifted her life for a few years atleast...
I hope she comes back as a playback singer & show her family what her voice can do!
My Best wishes to her...

Rachana said...

Sulakshana Pandit was and still is a very beautiful and powerful soul! Darkness ke baad hi Savera hai. She is full of inner

light in her soul and this very ligt will enable her to overcme all the darkness of her external situations, I am certain

about that. I pray to God to restore her to good health so she can spread all that light to us fans jo unki ek jhalak aur unki

aawaz ke deewane hai! I thank you for posting this beautiful intreview. I am waiting for more news and updates on her, of

corse positive ones. She will definitely overcome her sorrows and at least sing for her fans like me who love her talent

(both voice and acting). God has blessed her with so much talent and a wonderful family especially Vijeta who has stood

by her side through thick and thin. I wish to see her revived again! Thank you.

Sanjiv Goyal said...

Very Sad ! Her life is a tragedy !
Her smiling face and lovely voice has made me her fan so long ago .
Her songs " Pardesia tere desh main " and " Jab aati hogi yad meri " can't be sung by others as her voice made them impossible for others .
May God bless her and recover her from tragedy .She live a nice life .