When a die-hard fan of the Hindi cinema from the city wrote the book A Fan Remembers as a tribute to actress Sadhana, it brought alive memories of the swinging 1960s. An era of hand-painted posters, shooting stars and hardcore fans of Indian cinema, the book is a walk down the memory lane of the golden era of Indian cinema. Before we speak more about the star and her mesmerised fan, it would be interesting to relive the 1960s and how they affected popular culture.
The sixties was a time when the young took to the streets rejecting the Vietnam War and advocating peace and love. The era of singing stars such as Beatles, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and others, set the world swinging to their tunes. Elvis Presley served his term in the army and came back with the song It’s Now or Never. The charming Audrey Hepburn first had Breakfast at Tiffany’s and then played a delightful flower girl, Eliza Dolittle, in My Fair Lady.
Closer home, it marked the grand arrival of Sadhana in Love in Simla and Asha Parekh in Dil De Ke Dekho. They brought a sea change in the way the country perceived womanhood that had earlier been defined by actresses like Nargis, Meena Kumari or Madhubala.
Sadhana charmed a young boy in Patiala, who would, at 64, go on to pen down a tribute to the style icon. SP Singh, a retired bureaucrat of the Punjab cadre and at present the state’s information commissioner, confesses candidly: “Being born in the 50s, I was at an impressionable age when Sadhana made her debut in Hindi cinema in 1960. By 1964, I had begun worshipping the goddess of the silver screen. In 2014, she still remains my deity.”
He is happy that he is not just her sole surviving fan: there are innumerable websites and social network pages dedicated to the girl from Sindhi Colony with a fringe cut a la Hepburn who won the hearts of many young people with films such as Asli Naqli, Mere Mehboob, Arzoo, Mera Saaya and many others , besides her debut.
The writer laments: “If thyroid disorder had not struck her when she was just 24 or 25 and at the peak of her popularity, I wonder what her career trajectory would be? What heights would she have reached?”
What is most touching is that this book, which is a fruit of love if there ever was one, is without a single interview with the actress. “I met her once in 1997 but till then had not envisioned a book. Recently, I spoke to her on the phone and she was surprised and wanted to know where I got the material from.”
The book has been, for SP, a work of passion…researching, reviewing and collecting what was available on the star. The book will be launched first in Mumbai this month and then in his hometown. Such is the adulation of this charmingly star-struck writer!
(The writer is a prominent art and culture critic.)