Leela Chitnis

Profession: Actress , Producer, Singer, Supporting Actress
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Personal Details

  • Also Know as :- Leela Chitnis
  • Profession:- Actress , Producer, Singer, Supporting Actress
  • Gender :- female
  • Birthdate:- 09 Sep 1909
  • Status:- Divorced
  • Active Years:- 14 Jul 2003

Physique Details

Family Details

Leela Chitnis switches to Mother roles in late 40’s In the late 40’s when she turned 40 she took a bold decision to switch to strong character roles and signed her first film as Mother to superstar Dilip Kumar in the film Shaheed (1948). She had a powerful role of a mother squeezed between the father –son battle. Her husband is a British Officer and son a patriotic Indian. How she deals with the emotional turmoil made her role outstanding. The role fetched her much laurels as inspired by her powerful acting filmmaker Raj Kapoor signed her as his mother in his internationally acclaimed film Awaara (1951). In this film she had another superlative role of Prithviraj Kapoor’s wife who is kidnapped by a dacoit K.N.Singh. Suspecting infidelity her husband refuses to acknowledge her as his wife and abandons her. How she brings-up her son makes an emotional tale. The great filmmaker Bimal Roy immortalized Leela Chitnis in the central role in the film Maa (1952). After this she became stereotyped as an ideal mother. Her hit films as mother include Dilip Kumar’s mother Ganga Jamna and Naya Daur, Dev Anand’s mother in many films like Hum Dono, Guide, Kala Bazar etc, Raj Kapoor’s mother in Dil Hi To Hai, Sunil Dutt’s mother in Waqt , Dharmendra’s mother in Jeevan Mrityu, Rajesh Khanna’s mother in Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein etc. Death She died on 14 July 2003 at the ripe age of 93 in the US, where she lived with her elder son.

Leela Chitnis broke the orthodox traditional barriers Leela Chitnis is perhaps India’s first leading Film Star, who broke the orthodox traditions of Indian culture and boldly joined cinema in the late 30’s when women working in cinema were equated with prostitutes but Leela Chitnis gave a damn and joined film industry for the survival for her four children after she divorced with her husband. Well educated Leela Chitnis had passion for arts since childhood Leela Chitnis was India’s first educated actress who after graduation joined Natyamanwantar, a progressive theatre group that was inspired by great European dramatists like Ibsen, Shaw and Stanislavsky. It was the first theater group in India that promoted women artist to act in plays. It made a Marathi play called Andhalgachi Shala in which women featured. Though married, Leela Chitnis groomed her histrionics in acting in this theatre group. Her passion for arts was so intense that she even mastered Indian and western music and later sung her own songs in films.

She married at young age and divorced As per the Indian traditional culture of the early 19th century, she was married at the age of 15 years to Dr. Gajanan Yeshwant Chitnis. They had four children but the marriage ended in a divorce. Hence to feed her four children, Leela Chitnis joined cinema.

She began her career in Bollywood as an extra After a good stint in drama, Leela Chitnis began her career in films with B-Grade stunt and mythological films like Dhuwandhar (1935), Shri Satyanarayan (1935), Jailor (1938), Sant Tulsidas (1939) etc. Times of India newspaper played a key role in popularizing Leela Chitnis While Leela Chitnis was playing minor roles in Bollywood she happened to play an interesting character of a sophisticated criminal, who operates dressed in male attire in the film Gentleman Daku. The role was much appreciated so much so that the renowned English newspaper Times Of India published her picture prominently with a caption - Bollywood's first graduate society lady. This picture was seen Himansu Rai, pioneer of Bombay Talkies, India’s first Film company that was equipped with state-of-the-art studio with echo-proof stages, automatic laboratories, a preview theatre and highly skilled staff, mostly German. The other high light of this film studio was that it employed only educated Graduates. Hence when Himanshu Rai read that Leela Chitnis is a graduate and a film artist with background in theater he signed her for his film Kangan (1939) opposite superstar of that era Ashok Kumar. Leela Chitnis becomes Star Heroine and revives Bombay Talkies In the late 30’s Bombay Talkies suffered a setback and the famous Jodi of Ashok Kumar and Devika Rani began to fail. Hence Himanshu Rai decided to introduce a new heroine in the form of Leela Chitnis. Fortunately Himanshu Rai’s gamble paid off as the film Kangan was a huge box office hit. The movie not only made Leela Chitnis a Star Heroine but saved Bombay Talkies from financial crises. The Leela Chitnis and Ashok Kumar Jodi became national craze With the mega success of Kangan, the Ashok KumarLeela Chitnis Jodi became a hot pair and the duo gave a series of hit films like Azad (1940), Bandhan (1940) and Jhoola (1941). All the films dwelt with social issues. In fact Leela Chitnis replaced Devika Rani and became a famous face of Bombay Talkies. Leela Chitnis becomes India’s First actress to endorse Lux Soup In the early 40’s Leela Chitnis became Bollywood’s No.1 Star actress. Her popularity can be gauged from the fact that Leela Chitnis was selected as the beautiful face to endorse Lux Soup brand. She created history as she became the First Indian Star to appear in a commercial, which till then was endorsing only Hollywood actresses. Later the Lux commercial became a sort of a heroine’s popularity barometer! Literally every Top Star actress has endorsed the brand from Nargis, Meena Kumari, Vyjayanthimala, Asha Parekh, Mala Sinha , Waheeda Rehman, Sharmila Tagore, Hema Malini, Rekha, Sridevi, Zeenat Aman, Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla, Karisma Kapoor…the list is long!

# Released Date Type Credited As Movie
1 01 Jan 1987 Film Supporting Actress Dil Tujhko Diya
2 01 Jan 1980 Film Actress Bin Maa Ke Bachchey
3 01 Jan 1979 Film Supporting Actress Aangan Ki Kali
4 01 Jan 1979 Film Supporting Actress Janta Hawaldar
5 01 Jan 1978 Film Supporting Actress Satyam Shivam Sundaram
6 01 Jan 1977 Film Supporting Actress Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein
7 01 Jan 1973 Film Actress Mehmaan
8 01 Jan 1970 Film Supporting Actress Man Ki Aankhen
9 01 Jan 1970 Film Supporting Actress Jeevan Mrityu
10 01 Jan 1970 Film Actress Bhai Bhai