Nanda's contemporaries remember her as a "khushnuma, zindadil" (cheerful and happy-go-lucky) human being who brought light and happiness wherever she went.
The veteran actor, best known for her stellar performances in films like Hum Dono, Ittefaq and Gumnaam, died on Tuesday following a massive heart attack. She was 75.
Yesteryears actor Mala Sinha recalls the days when the two of them acted in Dhool Ka Phool (1959) together. "We always applauded each other's shots. If I did well, she would always come to me and praise my performance. I would always appreciate her work as well. Nanda was always cooperative on sets and we shared a great working relationship."
Sinha said Nanda was more than a contemporary or friend. "She was like my younger sister. I am shocked by her death. She was younger than me… I simply cannot believe that she is no more."
Nanda started working as a child actor after the sudden death of her father and literally grew up on the sets.
After her uncle, filmmaker V Shantaram, gave her a big break in 1956 by casting her in Toofan Aur Diya, Nanda did not look back. Her successes included Jab Jab Phool Khile, Gumnaam, Teen Deviyan, The Train, Ittefaq, Hum Dono, Prem Rog and Mazdoor among others.
"She was a very fine actress and a great performer. Watch her performance in Ittefaq to see what she was capable of," Mala added.
She shared screen space with noted actors like Ashok Kumar, Kishore Kumar, Dev Anand, Waheeda Rehman, Rajesh Khanna and Shashi Kapoor. She also worked with Manoj Kumar in three films. The actor said on Tuesday, "It's very unfortunate. I had the privileged to have worked with Nandaji in three films. She was senior to me but she was so friendly that she never let me have any inferiority complex."
Mala remembered their acting days. "We would chat together, exchange gossip, laugh together. We would all go out on picnics together. She was the kind of person who could make any gathering lively. Jaha jaati thi mahaul khushgawaar kar deti thi."
While the two actors did not meet as frequently once they retired from acting but occasional meetings were still there as both were part of a group which also included Waheeda Rehman, Shakeela, Helen and Zabeen Jaleel.
"We would all meet occasionally and it was like the old times once again. I have lost a good friend today," she said.
However, Mala added that Nanda went into a shell after the death of filmmaker Manmohan Desai to whom she was engaged at that time. Nanda and Desai got engaged in 1992 when the latter died after falling from the terrace of his rented flat in Girgaon. Nanda never married after that.
"After that, she became a recluse. We did not meet so often after that and she was no longer the same person," he added.