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Dinesh Raheja

Kamini Kaushal's plummy, little girl voice is famous. Kamini Kaushal

Years ago, Trilok Jetley, who adopted Premchand's famous story Godaan on screen,put his film on hold while Kamini was pregnant because he wanted to capitalise on the mithas in her voice.

Today, that mithas is still evidentin her seventh decadeasis her lust for life.

The famous 1940s and 1950s starand character artiste of the 1970s continues to act in the odd film (Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega, Chori Chori), making her the oldest major actress still working.
This livewire also dabbles in television serials and actively pursuesother passions like writing and doll-making. The enthusiastic Kamini, with the trademark flower in her hair, never misses attending a film festival in Mumbai. In her 55-year-long career, shehas obviously learned a lot about her art.

Kamini was one of the first well educated heroines (BA in English) in Hindi cinema. The Lahore-bred Punjabi girl entered films with Chetan Anand's Neecha Nagar (1946), one of the earliest art films to be made in India. Sheplayed a sympathetic role which castigated class differences and won anaward at the Montreal Film Festival.

Commercial success came her way only when Filmistan's Do Bhai (1947) proved a sleeper success, aided by Geeta Roy's impassioned singing of songs like Mera sundar sapna, which, incidentally, was shot in a single take. Kamini was a freelancer, but Filmistan was lucky for her --she followed Do Bhai withsuccesses like Shaheed, Nadiya Ke Paar and Shabnam.

Kamini, a slip of a girl with striking facial bone structure and cropped hair, proved apt for playing the sophisticatein a newly independent India. She won notice in a spate of early but important films for the emergingtriumvirate of Hindi films: Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar.

In Raj Kapoor's directorial debut Aag (1948), shedid a cameo as one of his three heroines (Nargis and Nigar were the other two) whose relationship with the hero doesn't fructify. The pairalso starred together in Jail Yatra.
Kamini Kaushal's trademark films
YearFilmCostar
1946Neecha Nagar Rafiq Anwar
1948ShaheedDilip Kumar
1948AagRaj Kapoor
1948ZiddiDev Anand
1949ShabnamDilip Kumar
1950ArzooDilip Kumar
1954Biraj BahuAbhi Bhattacharya
1958JailorSohrab Modi
1963GodaanRaaj Kumar
1965Shaheed

Kamini paired oppositeDev Anand in his very first success, Bombay Talkies' Ziddi (1948), a light romance. The pair followed this up with Namoona.Kamini played the third angle to the Dev-Suraiya pair in Shayar.

Shewas most successful as a romantic heroine with Dilip Kumar. Shaheed (1948), was a smash hit. The audience loved thestar-crossed lovers. Quick on its heels came the tragic Nadiya Ke Paar where Kamini looked fetching as a fisherwoman. The swashbuckling Shabnam (1949) was also a success with Kamini carrying off her male disguise with panache. Their last film together was the brooding, Wuthering Heights-inspired Aarzoo (1950).

Herteamwith Dilip Kumar was much talked about in the late 1940s.Along with Nargis and Suraiya, she was one of the reigning queens of the day.

Remarkably, sheachievedsuccessafter marriage. She married her sister's widower and cared for his two children.

The fact that sheintermittently interrupted her career and skipped doing films forher family's sakehad an adverse effect on her career. Fortunately, shewrested some fine roles for herself.

Shewon Filmfare's Best Actress award for Bimal Roy's Biraj Bahu (1954), where she played a determined village wife Biraj, who tries to keep her family together through troubled times.Biraj's problems escalate when a lecherous villain (Pran) sets his beady eyes on her, and her husband (Abhi Bhattacharya) starts suspecting her motives. Roy made Kamini read Sarat Chandra's novel 20 times. Shegave a wonderfully internalised performance, several notches above her regular romantic roles.
Famous songs of Kamini Kaushal
SongFilmSinger
Merasundarsapnabeetgaya Do BhaiGeeta Roy
Yaad karoge yaad karogeDo BhaiGeeta Roy
Badnaam na ho jaayeShaheedSurinder Kaur, UmaDevi
More raja ho, le chal NadiyaKePaarLalita Deulkar, Mohammed Rafi
Chanda re ja re jaZiddiLata Mangeshkar
Papihe se kahoArzooLata Mangeshkar
Chanda ki chaandni meinjhoome PoonamLata Mangeshkar


With that lilt in her voice, shedid try her hand at light roles like in Chalis Baba Ek Chor (1954), but she had a flair for finely tuned emotional drama evident in Aas, Ansoo and Jailor. In the Sohrab Modi-directed Jailor (1958), Kamini gave a goose pimple raising performance as Modi's wife who is pushed towards adultery by his ruthless tyranny.

In the heart-wrenching Godaan (1963), Kamini is utterly convincing as a farmer's wife battlingabject poverty.
Pandit Ravi Shankar composed thescore for herfirst (Neecha Nagar) and last (Godaan) films as a heroine.

Kamini segued towards character roles after she was offered a strong role as Bhagat Singh's mother in the Manoj Kumar starrer Shaheed (1965). She played Manoj's mother once again in Upkaar (1967). The appreciation she received ensured that Kamini became a fixture as the mother figure in a string of 1970s Manoj Kumar starrers like Purab Aur Paschim, Shor, Roti Kapda Aur Makaan, Sanyasi and Dus Numbri.

Gamely willing to experiment, Kamini alternated her typically self-sacrificing roles a la Do Raaste (as Balraj Sahni's eternally supportive wife), with an Anhonee (1973), where she stunned audiences by playinga mercenary vamp with aplomb.

Fromthe 1980s on,Kamini Kaushal has largely concentrated onher family, acting occasionally (in the prestigious Jewel In The Crownseries for instance) and throwing herself into activities revolving around her lifelong passion, children. She has written stories for them, made television serials for them and her doll-making abilities are legend.



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