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Rediff.com  » Movies » Neetu Singh at 60: Her 10 Best Roles

Neetu Singh at 60: Her 10 Best Roles

July 08, 2018 10:55 IST

Happy birthday, Neetu!

Neetu Singh retired when most stars begin their careers.

At 21, she bid adieu to films to focus on life with frequent co-star turned husband, Rishi Kapoor and raise their two kids, Riddhima and Ranbir.

Yet even after all these years, her fresh, fizzy persona occupies a fond corner in people's hearts.

Born Harneet Singh Kaur, the Sikhni from Delhi made her debut as Baby Sonia to play Rajendra Kumar's kid sister in Suraj. Her wide-eyed chatter was an instant hit and more child actor parts followed.

By the time she hit her teens, Neetu's dancing zeal in Yaadon Ki Baarat's Lekar Hum Deewana Dil insisted she was ready to make a splash as leading lady.

And that's exactly how it happened.

If teenagers doted on her easy-going spontaneity and fun fashion in happy-go-lucky avatars, critics raved about her carefree spunk.

Among the 1970s' most popular faces, Neetu was hardly ambitious but it never worked against her. If anything, it made her more confident and natural on screen.

Son Ranbir sure has inherited a great deal of it.

Just when it looked like she has finally found her groove, Neetu wanted out.

The camera, something she had faced since childhood, held no charm for her any more. She would return to it three decades later along side her real-life partner in Do Dooni Chaar and the warm reception only proves how much she was missed.

Sukanya Verma celebrates her 60th birthday on July 8 by looking at her 10 most memorable roles.

 

Do Kaliyan (1968)

A knee-high Neetu, back then known as Baby Sonia, works up those big, expressive eyes to play estranged twin sisters.

It's standard schmaltz but the youngster's ability to engage and humour through the script's various twists and turns showed huge promise.

 

Khel Khel Mein (1975)

Three college kids face the brunt of a prank gone horribly wrong in Ravi Tandon's superhit suspense.

But mostly Khel Khel Mein is an ode to her glorious chemistry with Rishi Kapoor, perfectly captured in R D Burman's Ek Main Ek Tu ditty.

 

Kabhi Kabhie (1976)

Kabhi Kabhie's overwhelming poetry and lingering heartbreak aren't the only concerns of Yash Chopra's classic take on relationships.

Neetu Singh's sensitive portrayal of a daughter seeking her biological mother while battling her own conflicted feelings on love and family is all kinds of compelling.

 

Priyatama (1977)

Neetu nails the impulses of a spoiled rich kid adjusting to the demands of newly married life, resulting in moments of hilarity and feeling in Basu Chatterjee's breezy rom-com.

 

Amar Akbar Anthony (1977)

One doesn't see enough of Neetu's fabulous, friendly charisma in Manmohan Desai's barmy lost and found drama.

But whenever she's there, the screen and Rishi Kapoor light up like a room full of chandeliers.

 

Doosra Aadmi (1977)

One of the reasons why the Rishi-Neetu jodi remains so beloved is it never got stagnant.

A unique facet of their chemistry is revealed in the fragile bonds of Doosra Aadmi and Raakhee's threatening presence.

Neetu's believable impatience and indignation of a neglected wife of an almost straying husband holds its own in the middle of author-backed roles.

 

Kaala Patthar (1979)

A tanned Neetu walks away with our sympathy as the ill-fated bangle seller of Yash Chopra's intense, under-rated multi-starrer set in the world of coal mines.

 

Yaarana (1981)

Neetu takes a break from her usual bubbly self to play the no-nonsense person-in-charge of Amitabh Bachchan's My Fair Ladyesque transformation in Yaarana.

The change of pace is rather impressive.

 

Chorni (1982)

Chorni is no classic, but Jyoyi Swaroop's drama on the theme of rehabilitation shows off Neetu's potential beyond arm candy roles.

As a temperamental thief struggling to turn new leaf in civil society, the actress is a forceful mix of tough and vulnerable.

 

Do Dooni Chaar (2010)

 

Habib Faisal's endearing slice-of-middle class life finds a touching expression in Neetu's effortless delivery.

Although it was 30 years since her last leading role, it's like she never went away.

Her grasp on the character of a Delhi housewife's strength, spirit and longings is pitch-perfect.

Sukanya Verma