1950s thesp found balance between musicals, realistic films

Hindi film thesp Nalini Jaywant was found dead in her suburban Mumbai home Dec. 24. The 84-year-old thesp, who had become a recluse in the past few years, had died a few days previously, according to press reports.

Jaywant’s breakthrough role was 1941’s daring “Bahen” (Sister) from helmer Mehboob Khan, about a brother’s obsessive love for his sister. During the 1950s, she starred in such pics as “Samadhi” and “Sangram,” with then-matinee idol Ashok Kumar. She was cast opposite many of the decade’s top actors such as Ajit in “Nastik,” Dev Anand in “Munimji” and Shammi Kapoor in “Hum sab chor hain.”

She balanced roles in realistic films like K.A. Abbas’ “Rahi,” Ramesh Saigal’s “Shikast” and “Railway Platform” and Zia Sarhady’s “Awaaz” with musicals, although even those had serious messages such as 1954’s “Nastik,” centering around the upheaval following India’s Partition, and “Kaala Pani,” based on the A. J. Cronin novel “Beyond This Place.”

By the end of the decade though her career was largely over. She did appear in a few films over the years including 1980’s “Bandish.”

There were no immediate survivors.

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