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Vidya Sinha: The actor who epitomised progressive working woman in ’70s Hindi cinema

In the more commercial “Pati, Patni Aur Woh”, Sinha held her own as the wife of a flirt, played by Sanjeev Kumar, also her co-star in “Mukti”. (Express Archive)

Vidya Sinha’s name conjures up the image of a working woman, who dressed in her everyday chiffon sarees, travels via Mumbai’s crowded buses while being pursued by Amol Palekar’s shy and slightly awkward hero in Basu Chatterjee’s “Chhoti Si Baat”. A shared bus route and being work neighbours is so instrumental to their romance that the city becomes a silent facilitator to their love story in the film, which is an immensely enjoyable watch even today. Sinha was a prominent presence in these slightly off-beat, middle class stories of the ’70s with roles in “Rajinigandha”, “Chhoti Si Baat” and “Pati, Patni Aur Woh”. The actor passed away in Mumbai on Thursday after prolonged illness. She was 71.

Sinha, whose father Pratap Rana was a producer, started her showbiz career as a model at the age of 18. She fell in love and married her neighbour Venkateshwaran Iyer in 1968 much before she made her movie debut. Iyer is said to have encouraged her to take up the role in “Rajinigandha”, where she played the role of a young student, who is torn between her current boyfriend (Amol Palekar also in his debut) and a past romance (Dinesh Thakur), both starkly different in outlook and personalities. Though she had already made a debut with 1974 film “Raja Kaka”, such was her performance in “Rajinigandha” that it turned out to be her breakout role. These films stood out among the larger-than-life stories or over-the-top romances that Bollywood was producing at the time. She would go on to collaborate with Chatterjee and Palekar in “Chhoti Si Baat”, a slightly tongue-in-cheek love story about a budding but silent romance between two office workers and how it is almost derailed when a third man, played by Asrani, enters the scene.

In the more commercial “Pati, Patni Aur Woh”, Sinha held her own as the wife of a flirt, played by Sanjeev Kumar, also her co-star in “Mukti”. As the space for middle class stories shrunk in the ’80s, Sinha left the spotlight. In her later years, she was seen in a small role in Salman Khan’s “Bodyguard” besides featuring in TV shows such as “Kkavyanjali”, “Qubool Hai”, “Chandra Nandini” and “Kullfi Kumarr Bajewala”.

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Source: Financial Express