Nadira became immortal with Shree 420 Though Mehboob Khan’s Aan filled the coffer’s of Nadira as she was paid handsomely - an astronomical sum of Rs 3000/- per month (mind you this amount she received in 1950). She is said to be India’s first actress to own world’s most expensive Rolls-Royce car in the 50’s. Nevertheless the role that made her immortal was in Raj Kapoor’s Shree 420, in which she played a high society woman aptly called Maya! The vicious character of Maya was much ahead of it time and it required a daring actress to perform such a nasty role on screen but Nadira did and with panache! Though she won much applause but tragically it ruined her career as she was stereotyped! Death Nadira died an unsung death on 9th February, 2006 at the age of 73. The best tribute was paid to her by character actor, Actor Tom Alter. He said, "Nadira has been a woman so much ahead of her time -- in fact, she was a woman for all time -- beautiful, bold, and truthful. What today's woman strives to be, Nadira was 50 years ago."
Nadira was a tomboy since her childhood Few know her original name was Florence Ezekeil. She was born to a Baghdadi Jewish family in Bombay’s notorious Nagpada locality, in South Mumbai. Her parents split up when she was just four. Her mother got remarried and Nadira and her brother were brought up by her grandmother. Since childhood she was tomboyish. Nadira was the only ugly duckling in her family Recollecting her earlier days Nadira in an interview said, “Though both my parents were good looking and even my two brothers were handsome, I was the only ugly duckling in my family. And this constantly pestered my mother who kept worrying about my marriage concerning my dark complexion and boyish appearance! However, as I grew my features became sharper and gorgeous. Since I stayed in South Mumbai, where, many filmmakers lived, I soon came to be noticed by them. And in a little while film offers, started pouring in.
Two disastrous marriages She married twice and each time it proved disastrous. She had no children and she lived lonely all her life.
Nadira wanted to become a Nun and had refused AAN! Nadira in her interview confessed, “I hated both men and films and wanted to become a Nun hence when film legend Mehboob Khan, who was in search of a fresh face to mould her in to another Nargis , after Nargis had rejected the role of a haughty princess in his movie Aan, approached me for the same role, I had refused the offer but my mother forced me to accept the film. But I was adamant.” She added, “But destiny seemed hell bent on making me into an actress. One rainy day, I got trapped in a cyclone at Marine Drive, Mrs. Mehboob Khan, who happened to drove by noticed me and ‘forcibly’ took me into her car. On the way, she first fired me for rejecting her husband’s film, but when I protested, she cleverly changed tracks. However, before our journey ended, she cunningly cajoled me into accepting the film offer. Mrs Mehboob Khan groomed Nadira into a gorgeous lady Nadira informed, “Besides persuading me for the film, Sardar Begam ( Mrs Mehboob Khan) also groomed me into the ‘dream heroine’ of her husband’s vision.” Giving details Nadira revealed, “Before the shooting commenced she kept me in her house for one complete month, toning my body by daily massage and applying regular olive oil on my face to round my thin facial features until I was geared up for the arrogant princess of Aan. Nadira got typecast as vamp after RK’s Shree 420 After working with Dilip Kumar, when the other superstar Raj Kapoor offered Nadira a vamp role in his film Shree 420, she signed it immediately without thinking the consequences because soon after the success of Shree 420 Nadira got stereotyped as strict, arrogant and a mean woman. Further with films like Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai, Choti Choti Baaten her image of a haughty actress became permanent and she could not reap the rich dividends of the mega success of Aan and Shree 420. In fact Nadira mourned and termed Shree 420 as waterloo of her career, which she daringly took as a challenge but it ruined her career. Nadira’s career was cut short and she was reduced to vamp Frustrated at the ruining of her career, Nadira quit Bollywood for three years but after failure in marriage she had to rely back on Bollywood, which welcomed her with vampish character roles like Sapno Ka Saudagar (Hema Malani’s cruel mother), Chetna (1970), Safar (1970), Pakeezah (1971), Ek Nazar (1972), Hanste Zakhm (1973) etc. Nadira proved her histrionics in Juile In mid 70’s Nadira got a challenging role in Julie (1975). In this film, she played the role of heroin Laxmi’s mother. Her character Mrs Margaret - an Anglo-Indian housewife who considers herself more English and who keeps her brood together while facing crises with poise, was portrayed outstandingly by Nadira. It was easily Nadira’s career’s strongest performance after Aan and Shree 420. The role won her prestigious Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress on merit! The movie fetched her real fame and the industry accepted her worth. Nadira towards her end really came up with stunning performances Towards her end of her career Nadira came up with many stunning performances adding rare dignity and spirit to the various roles of the mother, aunt or other older woman roles. Nadira’s other films include Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Saagar (1985) – again making a very strong impression, Tamanna (1997) and Josh (2000). She also acted in the Ismail Merchant directed Cotton Mary (1999) and the Television Serials Thoda sa Aasmaan and Margarita.
|#||Released Date||Type||Credited As||Movie|
|1||09 Jun 2000||Film||Supporting Actress||Josh|
|2||01 Jan 2000||Film||Supporting Actress||Snip|
|3||07 Mar 1997||Film||Supporting Actress||Tamanna|
|4||01 Jan 1992||Film||Supporting Actress||Jhoothi Shaan|
|5||18 Jan 1991||Film||Supporting Actress||Khilaaf|
|6||01 Jan 1988||Film||Actress||Maula Baksh|
|7||01 Jan 1988||Film||Actress||Yadon Ka Bazar|
|8||03 Sep 1986||Film||Dialogue||Samundar|
|9||09 Aug 1985||Film||Supporting Actor||Saagar|
|10||01 Jan 1985||Film||Supporting Actress||Dil Ek Musafir|