Riveting comeback: Amrita Singh
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Riveting comeback: Amrita Singh

Only few actors have made successful comebacks, writes Arnab Banerjee.

entertainment Updated: Dec 26, 2005 18:58 IST

Only a few actors have made successful comebacks. Barring exceptions like Nutan, Dimple Kapadia and Sharmila Tagore, who took a long sabbatical after
their perfect marriages and motherhood, there aren’t very many examples of female actors making it big in the Hindi film world once they bade adieu to films.

There are stray instances where they did bag major banners after quitting work for a few years but most of them ended up playing character roles or got relegated to the background in inconsequential film roles as the ‘sacrificing bhabhi’ or the eternal sister. Fine actors like Moushumi Chatterjee and Rakhee were shortchanged far too often, even when they managed a good initial on the strengths of their ‘star power’ or gorgeous looks. But did anyone complain?

Even if they did, the protests were too feeble to be heard by the mainstream directors. And then Jaya Bachchan, Kiron Kher and Shabana Azmiredefined the role of female protagonists. With their films like Darmiyaan, Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa,Godmother and Fire, they did the impossible – got cinegoers to the theatres despite not having major saleable stars as a box office draw in their films. And it worked. Ever since then, though minuscule, a significant change has been registered in the history of cinema – there is after all, what one would call
‘the might of the veteran female power.’ Before them, perhaps, only thespian Dilip Kumar and Raj Kumar enjoyed this ‘special’ status.

Amrita Singh, who has always been regarded as “one of the most confident actors” never took her career as seriously as one observes the young generation of actors today. Despite being hugely talented she continued to act in pot boilers and masala thrillers, though she used to be Big B’s favorite at one point of time. For her complete lack of seriousness and her dare-me- not manner, she was even nicknamed ‘MardSingh’ by the industry. Her not being glamorous added to the title but she still had a ‘I-couldn’t care-less’ attitude.

What is interesting to note is that even in complete nonchalance to her career in her youth, she did charm her fans in films like Basu Chatterjee’s Chameli Ki
and Mahesh Bhatt’s Naam. Years later she played second fiddle to the late Smita Patil in Waaris but left her mark despite a star studded cast comprising Amrish Puri Raj Babbar and Kulbhushan Kharbanda.

She also won the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award for her performance in Aaina. In the film, she excelled as the ambitious older sister who decided to forego her engagement to Jackie Shroff in favour of her career as an actress but repents when she fails and yearns to get her love back from her sister JuhiChawla, who by then, marries her former lover. As the jealous woman, she conveyed the ambivalent side to aforlorn lover to perfection.

But she chose to live in oblivion once the harmony of wedded bliss and maternity beckoned her. It’s a pity that Amrita has decided to call it quits at a time when she was maturing as such a fine performer,” lamented Jaya Bachchan once.

But that was her destiny. And she seemed to be reveling in it.

First Published: Dec 26, 2005 08:00 IST