Daughter the famous Marathi actress Shobhana Samarth, Nutan entered films as a fourteen year old in a film produced by her mother. Nutan was part of the powerful Samarth-Mukherjee family and her sister Tanuja was a notable actress too. Rumors are she was so slim that she was told to put on some weight before she could do mainstream heroine roles. Her first big film was opposite Balraj Sahni in Seema and she won her first Filmfare best actress award for that role.
She was known for her realistic and subtle performances in serious cinema, but she played a wide variety of roles and showed her versatility by playing each one convincingly. In Paying Guest she paired opposite Dev Anand and they couple set the screen alight with the sweetest romantic song ever! As she and Dev descend the steps of the Qutab Minar and encounter people climbing up, a gamut of emotions from joy, through shyness to embarrasment flit across her face.
In Bimal Roy’s Sujata she played the poor untouchable girl who is in love with a Brahmin boy (Sunil Dutt). She won another Best Actress award for this role and the film is remembered for great performances by the lead pair, and an amazingly good soundtrack, with music composed by SD Burman and lyrics written by Majrooh Sultanpuri!
Her next notable role came in Bandini. This was another Bimal Roy film where Nutan played Kalyani, a woman who poisons the wife of her lover (Ashok Kumar) and spends time incarcerated in jail. While there she meets the jail doctor who falls for her and in the end Kalyani is forced to chose between the two men in her life. Bandini was a rare woman-centric film and successful at the BO due to excellent performances from the leads and wonderful music by S D Burman. A personal favorite, set in Bihar, the film is a wonderful mix of patriotism, romance, drama and pathos.
Subsequent films like Milan included the role of a woman who must deal with the love of a “mentally challenged” man (Sunil Dutt in Milan) and yet another Best Actress award, and numerous others like the period film Saraswatichandra. This film showcased the beauty, charisma, lissome grace of this wonderful lady. Nutan’s exceptional career earned her high accolades and she eventually moved to supporting roles in films. At the age of 54 she succumbed to cancer. This song from Bandini, as she goes away leaving her family behind, serves as a memorial to this exceptional actress!
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