Sadhana Shivdasani

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Sadhana in film, Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962)
BornSadhana Shivdasani
(1941-09-02) September 2, 1941 (age 71)
Karachi, Sindh, India, now part of Pakistan
ResidenceSantacruz, Mumbai
Years active1958–1978
Spouse(s)R. K. Nayyar (1966–d.1995)
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Sadhana in film, Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962)
BornSadhana Shivdasani
(1941-09-02) September 2, 1941 (age 71)
Karachi, Sindh, India, now part of Pakistan
ResidenceSantacruz, Mumbai
Years active1958–1978
Spouse(s)R. K. Nayyar (1966–d.1995)

Sadhana Shivdasani (born 2 September 1941[1]), better known mononymously as Sadhana, is an Indian Bollywood actress who was one of the top stars in the 1960s and the early 1970s. Beside becoming the fashion icon for young Indian girls with her specific hair style, still known as "Sadhana cut", she became famous as Mystery Girl with her three suspense thriller films namely Woh Kaun Thi? (1964), Mera Saaya (1966) and Anita (1967), all directed by Raj Khosla.

Shivdasani was nominated for prestigious Filmfare Award for Best Actress for film Woh Kaun Thi? and Waqt in 1965 and 1966. She took retirement from films in mid 1970s before which she also directed and co-produced few films.


Early life

Born in a Sindhi family[2] in Karachi, Pakistan (then India), Shivdasani was named after her father's favorite actress-dancer Sadhana Bose. Her father was the brother of actor Hari Shivdasani. Sadhana is a cousin of the actress Babita, who is the daughter of actor Hari Shivdasani and mother of actresses Karisma & Kareena Kapoor.

The family fled from Karachi during the post-partition riots and settled in Bombay. Her mother home-schooled her until she was 8 years old and she later on did her schooling from Auxilium Convent, Wadala and further education from Jai Hind College.[3]



Sadhana aspired to be an actress from childhood. Her father helped her enter films. In 1955 she played a chorus girl in the song "Eechak Dana Beechak Dana" in Raj Kapoor's Shree 420.[4][5] When she was 15 years old, she was discovered by some producers who had seen her act in a college play. They cast her in India's first Sindhi film titled Abana (1958), where she played the role of actress Sheila Ramani's younger sister.[4] She was paid a token amount of 1 rupee.[citation needed] A photograph of her publicizing the film appeared in a movie magazine Screen. It was then that Sashadhar Mukherjee, one of cinema's major producers at that time, noticed her. She joined Mukherjee's acting school along with her debutant co-star Joy Mukherjee, who is Sashadhar’s son. R.K. Nayyar, who had previously worked as assistant director on few films, directed this film. He also created her trademark look called "Sadhana cut" inspired from Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn.[4][6] The Filmalaya Production banner thus introduced Joy, Sadhana and her iconic hairstyle "Sadhana cut" in their 1960's romantic film Love in Simla. The film was declared as "Hit" on the box office and was enlisted in top 10 films of 1960.[7] Shivdasani played a role of simple, bespectacled girl who is transformed by her grandmother into a beautiful young woman and encouraged to pursue the hero. In the film, Shivdasani wins a beauty contest and is awarded a three year film contract with Filmalaya, which was the case in real life too. During this period she would again work under the same banner opposite Joy Mukherjee in Ek Musafir Ek Haseena.[8]


Alongside Love in Simla, Shivdasani was signed by acclaimed director Bimal Roy for his satirical film on Indian democracy, Parakh. She portrayed a simple village girl's role in this multi-award winning film. In 1961's another "Hit"[9] film Hum Dono she played the love interest of Dev Anand. This black-and-white film was colourized and re-released in 2011. in the film's review writes about Shivadasani; "Her eyes, expressive and captivating, do most of the work, while she balances out her submissiveness with a firm tongue."[10] The RafiAsha duet "Abhi Na Jaao Chodkar" remains evergreen. In 1962, she was again paired with Dev Anand in Asli-Naqli by director Hrishikesh Mukherjee. The same year saw director-screenwriter Raj Khosla casting her opposite Joy Mukheerjee in his musical film Ek Musafir Ek Hasina. In future, Khosla would pair with Shivdasani to make their famous suspense thriller trilogy.

In 1963, Shivdasani played her first role in a technicolour film Mere Mehboob directed by H.S.Rawail. The film was the "Blockbuster" film of 1963[11] and ranked in top 5 films of 1960s.[12] The scene where Rajendra Kumar encounters Shivdasani for the first time and sees her eyes through her burqa stands as one of the most remarkable scenes of Hindi film industry. Notable actor Danny Denzongpa describes the visage of Sadhana in a burqa with just her eyes visible as "unforgettable."[4]

Shivdasani in 1964 played her remarkable 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 MangeshkarMadan Mohan’s all time classics like "Naina Barse" and "Lag Ja Gale". in their review of the film called her a show-stopper "with an intriguing Mona Lisa-like smile".[13] The film was a box office "Hit".[14] Raj Khosla cast her in two more mystery films, Mera Saaya (1966) and Anita (1967) thus making her famous as "Mystery girl". Mera Saaya, a box office "Super Hit"[15] 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 Shivdasani perform on dance steps choreographed by Saroj Khan. Khan was then an assistant to dance director Sohanlal. The song became so popular that excited audience in cinema halls used to throw coins at the screen.[16] The film also had other classic songs "Naino Mein Badara Chhaye" and the haunting theme song "Tu Jaha Jaha Chalega, Mera Saaya Sath Hoga", both voiced by Lata Mangeshkar.

Second Filmfare nomination as Best Actress came to Shivdasani for her role of Meena in Yash Chopra directorial saga Waqt (1965). Shivdasani stood out distinct in Bollywood’s first ever ensemble cast by bringing along the fashion of tight chudidar-kurtas.[4][17] The film proved to be 1965’s "Blockbuster".[18]

Later work

Sadhana had a health problem with her thyroid, which she got treated at a hospital in Boston in the US. After returning from the US, she starred in successful movies Intaquam (1969), Ek Phool Do Mali (1969), and Geeta Mera Naam (1974), which she also directed.

In Intaquam she played the role of a woman who allures the son of her mother’s murderer for revenge.[19]

After that, she retired from acting as she did not want to be cast as a side-actress or do character roles.[4] Later, she and her husband formed a production company. She also directed a movie starring Dimple Kapadia in 1989.[20]

Personal life

Sadhana married her Love in Simla's director Ram Krishna Nayyar on 6 March 1966.[16] Their love blossomed on the film set. But as she was very young then, her parents opposed it. She was married to him for nearly thirty years, till his death in 1995 from asthama. She has no children. She suffered from a disorder of her eyes due to hyperthyroidism and got treatment for the same in Boston. She returned back to films and made success in Intaqam, Ek Phool Do Mali, Aap Aaye Bahaar Ayee, etc.[3][5][6] But after her retirement, she chooses to remain afar from film-industry and never make a come-back. She also refuses to be photographed simply because she wants to be remembered the way she was.[6] Living in Santacruz, Mumbai, she is a tenant in an apartment building owned by singer Asha Bhosle. Recently in 2010, she claimed that the builder Yusuf Lakdawala threatened her to vacate from her property as he wanted to redevelop the property.[21]

Fashion icon

Shivdasani in a chudidar-kurta from film Arzoo, the Bollywood style of 1960s and 70s for which she is credited.

Sadhana Shivdasani introduced the fringe hairstlye in Indian film industry in her first film Love in Simla. Nayyar, her husband and director of the film, suggested the fringe style in order to make her forehead look narrow. Shivdasani says, "They tried to stick a strip near hair-line, but it didn’t work out."[3] Nayyar then suggested her to go for the fringe style as was then practiced by the Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn.[4][6][20] The fringe soon became popular and a fashion fad in 1960s.[1][22] The style was copied around by girls in India and is still known by the same name.[23] This look suited her role of naughty, preety, glamourous Sonia that she played. But when Shivdasani 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.[3] In 1963, when signed to play a role of simple Muslim girl from Aligarh in Mere Mehboob, Shivdasani undid her famous "Sadhana Cut" to fit the bill. She went in plain plait look with centre-parting her hair; which was immediately discarded by the director H.S. Rawail. He said that audience wanted to see her signature "Sadhana cut" and demanded it.[2] Recently, the Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone sported the same fringe in her films Om Shanti Om (2007) and Chandni Chowk To China (2009).[24]

Shivdasani is also credited for bringing in fashion tight chudidar-kurta.[2][22] She went with this concept of gracefully changing the traditional loose salwar kameez to her director Yash Chopra for 1965's film Waqt. Chopra felt insecure and thought that it would not be accepted. But Shivdasani with help of her fashion designer Bhanu Athaiya showed him a sample, which he agreed to.[3] The trend lasted well in the 1970s and can be seen to be adopted by many actresses.[25] Lately, in a song sequence of "Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte" for the film Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008), actress Bipasha Basu dressed herself in a white chudidar-kurta and also frolicked with the famous fringe as a tribute to Sadhana.[26]


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 Filmfare Award in Best Actress category for her roles in Woh Kaun Thi? and Waqt. For her contribution towards the film industry, she was awarded with a Lifetime Achievement Award by International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) in 2002.[27][28]


1955Shree 420[4]Chorus girlCameo role in the song "Eechak Dana Beechak Dana"
1958Abana[4]First Sindhi film
1960Love in Simla[4]Sonia
1961Hum Dono[4]Mita
1962Prem Patra[4]Kavita Kapoor
1962Ek Musafir Ek Hasina[4]Asha
1963Mere Mehboob[4]Husna Banu Changezi
1964Woh Kaun Thi?[4]Sandhya / SeemaNominated: Filmfare Award for Best Actress
1964Rajkumar[4]Princess Sangeeta
1964Dulha DulhanRekha / Chanda
1965Waqt[4]Meena MittalNominated: Filmfare Award for Best Actress
1966Mera Saaya[4]Geeta / Nisha (Raina)
1968StreeOriya film
1969SachaaiShobha Dayal
1969Intaquam[4]Reeta Mehra
1969Ek Phool Do Mali[4]Somna
1970Ishq Par Zor NahinSushma Rai
1971Aap Aye Bahaar AyeeNeena Bakshi
1972Dil Daulat DuniyaRoopa
1973Hum Sab Chor Hain
1974Geeta Mera Naam[4]Kavita / Neeta / Geeta
1974Chhote Sarkar
1978MehfilShalini / Ratnabai
1988Aakhri Nishchay
1994Ulfat Ki Nayee ManzeeleinLate release


  1. ^ a b Roshmila Bhattacharya (28 Aug 2011). "Sadhana’s fringe benefits from Audrey Hepburn". Mumbai: Hindustan Times. Retrieved 3 Feb 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Punita Bhatt (July 1991). "The Sadhana Mystique". Filmfare. Retrieved 3 Feb 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Chandrika Bhattacharya (1990). "Interview in Movie Magazine". Movie Magazine. Retrieved 3 Feb 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Dinesh Raheja. "Sadhana's Song". Retrieved 2 Feb 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Sadhana". Upperstall. Retrieved 3 Feb 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d Rajiv Vijayakar (4 Mar 2011). "That Iconic Touch". Mumbai: Indian Express. Retrieved 2 Feb 2012. 
  7. ^ "Box Office 1960". Retrieved 3 Feb 2012. 
  8. ^ Dinesh Raheja. "Love in Simla: Grin fairytale". Retrieved 6 Feb 2012. 
  9. ^ "Box Office 1961". Retrieved 3 Feb 2012. 
  10. ^ Raja Sen (4 Feb 2011). "Hum Dono review: absolute must-watch". Mumbai: Retrieved 3 Feb 2011. 
  11. ^ "Box Office 1963". Retrieved 3 Feb 2012. 
  12. ^ "Top Earners 1960-1969". Retrieved 3 Feb 2012. 
  13. ^ Dinesh Raheja (28 Feb 2003). "The imaginative mystery of Woh Kaun Thi". Retrieved 6 Feb 2012. 
  14. ^ "Box Office 1964". Retrieved 6 Feb 2012. 
  15. ^ "Box Office 1964". Retrieved 6 Feb 2012. 
  16. ^ a b Dinesh Raheja. "Mera Saaya: A Compelling Conundrum". Retrieved 6 feb 20122. 
  17. ^ Dinesh Raheja. "Waqt: Where time stands still". Retrieved 6 Feb 2012. 
  18. ^ "Box Office 1965". Retrieved 6 feb 2012. 
  19. ^ "Box Office 1969". Retrieved 6 feb 2012. 
  20. ^ a b Das Gupta, Ranjan (5 Sept 2008). "Sadhna worked wonders". The Hindu (Chennai, India). Retrieved 3 Feb 2012. 
  21. ^ Deeptiman Tiwary (13 Aug 2012). "Builder threatened to kill me: Sadhana". Times of India. Retrieved 3 Feb 2012. 
  22. ^ a b Stella Bruzzi, Pamela Church Gibson (2000). Fashion cultures: Theories, explorations, and analysis. Routledge. p. 188. ISBN 0-415-20685-5. 
  23. ^ Rachel Dwyer, Divia Patel (2002). Cinema India: the visual culture of Hindi film. Reaktion Books. p. 97. 
  24. ^ Priscilla Corner (4 Apr 2011). "Mirror Mirror". The Telegraph India. Retrieved 5 Feb 2012. 
  25. ^ Gulzar, Govind Nihalani, Saibal Chatterjee (2003). Encyclopaedia of Hindi Cinema. Popular Prakashan. p. 523. ISBN 81-7991-066-0. 
  26. ^ Subhash K Jha (15 Jan 2009). "I'm not going to risk my life for any film". Mumbai: Hindustan Times. Retrieved 6 Feb 2012. 
  27. ^ "Showcase: IIFA 2002 Malaysia". IIFA. Retrieved 14 Feb 2012. 
  28. ^ "Awards of the International Indian Film Academy (2002)". IMDB. Retrieved 3Feb 2012. 

External links