It is impossible to judge a celebrity’s life from what he chooses to broadcast to the world at large.
Beneath the perky personalities and sunny smiles, they maybe hurting, and you may never know.
Today we explore the tragic life of Sulakhshana Pandit, a women of many flairs, pushed into despondency by fate. .
Though most of us know her as one of Bollywood’s prominent leading ladies, Sulakshana Pandit had gifts that transcended the screen and manifested in the recording studio as well. But, the beautiful actress of the 70s has lived a pensive life not many know of.
Born on 12 July 1954, in Raigarh of present Chhattisgarh, Sulakshana hails from a musically enriched family. Her father, Pratap Narain Pandit was an Indian classical vocalist of Mewati Gharana and a fine Tabla player. Her brothers, Jatin Pandit and Lalit Pandit together form the renowned music composing duo, Jatin-Lalit. She started off as a playback singer fairly young, and matched pipes with Lata Mangeshkar in the popular song, ‘Saat samundar paar se’ from the 1967 film, Taqdeer. She had proved her vocal genius singing duets with celebrated singers like Kishor Kumar, Mohammad Rafi, Shailendra, Yesudas.
Her onscreen career spanned the 70s and the mid-80s. She could have continued for longer had life not taken some cruel turns. Sulakshana’s debut as an actress happened with the 1975 release Uljhan. She was cast opposite Sanjeev Kumar in the murder mistery. Along with Lata Mangeskar and Asha Bhosle, Sulakshana too enlisted herself on the playback singers’ list by lending voice to the song "Aaj Pyare Pyare Se Lagte Hai Aap", with Kishore Kumar.
Her performance was liked by the movie-goers and filmmakers acknowledged her potential as an actress. Offers started rolling out at her door; she didn’t falter on the opportunities either. By the end of the decade she had worked in over a dozen movies and was counted as a bankable actress. Some of her best movies are Apnapan, Uljhan, Waqt Ki Deewar, Chehre pe Chehra and Khandaan. With Sanjeev Kumar alone, she acted in 7 movies, and somewhere between the ‘actions’ and the ‘cuts’, she lost her heart to the charmer.
Unfortunately, Kumar was head over heels for dream girl, Hema Malini, and had asked for her hand in marriage. Hema Malini didn’t reciprocate his feelings and her refusal left a dent in his heart. A heartbroken Sanjeev Kumar immersed himself in alcohol which started to take over his health.
Aware of Sulakshana’s emotions for him, he took her for a friend. In a memoir published in a leading portal, the actress pens, “It was during the film Uljhan (1975) that I fell in love with Sanjeev Kumar. We had struck a wonderful rapport with each other. He was madly in love with Hemaji, during those days. So, naturally, he would come to me with all his problems! I felt terrible, but I used to console myself thinking this was just a phase! Once he got out of it, I wanted to tell him how I felt about him. But I never did get the chance. My co-artistes would tell me, `Sulakshana, you are what this man needs! You will change his life” It is said that Sulakshan Pandit had asked the Anamika actor to marry her multiple times. But Sanjeev would turn her down repeatedly.
He was born with a heart ailment and excessive drinking damaged it further. Despite receiving treatment in the United States, 47-year-old Sanjeev Kumar left the world in November 1985. His death left Sulakshana Pandit shattered. After having her heart broken repeatedly by the same man, she chose to stay a life of aloofness and was soon devoured by depression. Her last release was Do Waqt ki Roti that hit the theaters in 1988.
Bitten by unrequited love, she never gave love another chance and remained unmarried for life. After quitting acting she was faced with a stern financial crisis. She could sing, but brothers Jatin-Lalit who were doing exponentially well as composers, didn't do much to revive her music career.
As the cash depleted, by 2002 she was left impoverished in a ravaged apartment bereft of any furniture. She put it up for sale, but struggled to get any buyers. That is when her brother-in-law late music director Adesh Srivastav showed up and acquired the flat. From the proceeds of the sale, she paid up her dues and moved in with sister Vijayta and her husband Adesh. Adesh was planning a devotional album with Sulakshana but he too was taken away before the plan could materialize. In 2012, her third sister Sandhya Singh was brutally murdered by her son over money issues.
Few years back, Sulakshana met with an accident indoors and broke her hip bone. After undergoing four surgeries she manages to walk with difficulty. At the age of 65, the talented actress of yesteryears lives a life confined to her bedroom, listening to songs from her glorious days. Things could have been different and better for both, had Sanjeev Kumar moved over Hema Malini and married that one woman who truly loved him, but life has a mind of its own. Doesn't it!!