Veteran actress Asha Parekh remembers Nanda, and the good times their ‘girl gang’ shared.
How was I to know that I will never hear her voice again? When I called up Nanda on Monday night I had no inkling that this would be our last conversation. She was absolutely fine, hale and hearty. We chatted for about 15 minutes, joked and laughed a lot. She said she would call me the next day and we’d make a plan to meet soon. (In Pics: Remembering Nanda)
Next morning, I got a call. It wasn’t Nanda but our common friend Helen who asked me, “Did you hear what happened?” I wasn’t at home. I had come out to run a few errands so I had no idea. Helen said, “Nanda has passed away.” It was a big shock. I protested and said, “But I just spoke to her last night and she was absolutely okay.” Helen told me that it was indeed true. She said, “Speak to Waheeda and she’ll tell you.” I immediately called up Waheeda, who confirmed the news.
I don’t think I’m over the shock. She never had a heart problem and then to die of a massive heart attack! It’s very sad.
Nanda was a wonderful, wonderful person. She was warm, generous and a dependable friend. I can’t even remember when we became friends. I think we met at a film function and we became friends. She was very easy to like and we connected well. Soon, we became part of a girl gang. Waheeda, Sadhana, Nanda, Shammi, Helen and I became a group.
It started with Waheeda and Nanda, who were very close friends. Then Sadhana and I joined and then Helen joined us and we just clicked. Helen’s husband, Salim (Khan) saab would invite us to the trial shows of films, so we started meeting socially and then we started going out for lunches and holidays. All of us formed a strong bond and our friendship grew. We have seen so many films together. Nanda was a true movie buff. She didn’t like to travel much because she had a knee problem, but every Sunday she wanted to go and watch a film at the theatre. Even at home, she would always be watching a film on TV or DVD.
She was a home-loving person. She avoided public events, and didn’t feel comfortable in crowds but she made an exception for me. She attended all my birthday parties. We even managed to take her to Lavasa (a planned hill city near Pune) and it was quite a coup to get her out of Mumbai.
As a person, she was not at all demanding. She could never hurt anybody. She was warm-hearted and so loveable. I don’t think she had a mean bone in her body. She was very content. She didn’t have any grudges in life, no bitterness.
She lived a complete life. When she worked in films, she gave it her all and when she bid adieu to acting, she never looked back. But I must say that she was a fabulous actress. I loved her in ‘Dharti Kahe Pukar Ke’. She was excellent in ‘Ittefaq’. Even in her first film with V. Shantaram, ‘Diya Aur Toofan’, she was brilliant. And ‘Prem Rog’! Who can forget her in Raj Kapoor’s film?
The most striking thing about Nanda was that she was always smiling. That’s how I will always remember her. I just want to wish her peace wherever she is.
Just keep smiling Nanda, my friend.
(As told to Harneet Singh)