Vidya Sinha the unconventional beauty who ruled Bollywood in the ’70s with hit films like Rajnigandha (1974), Chhoti Si Baat (1975), Pati Patni Aur Woh (1977) bid adieu at the ripe age of 71. She was battling heart and lungs disorder. With her demise, the film industry lost a gem of an actress who proved that even married actress can make a difference in Bollywood if they are talented!
A married actress becoming a heroine in Bollywood is beyond imagination but kudos to Vidya Sinha, who started her career in Bollywood after marriage. Interestingly, when Vidya Sinha made her debut in Bollywood, the film industry was studded with glamorous actresses like Zeenat Aman, Parveen Babi, Hema Malani, Rekha, Rakhee, etc. Amidst such beauties to make a presence and sustain stardom was not an easy task!
Nevertheless, Vidya Sinha was confident of her talent and took a plunge in Bollywood with filmmaker Basu Chatterjee, low budget experimental film Rajnigandha (1974). Readers would be surprised to know initially Basu Chatterjee had decided to cast Sharmila Tagore but she was busy. Hence Basu Chatterjee switched to Bengali actoress, Aparna Sen and even approached Mallika Sarabhai but finally, he selected Vidya Sinha after watching her in one of her advertisement.
The success of Rajnigandha (1974) followed a series of hit films like Chhoti Si Baat (1975), Pati Patni Aur Woh (1977), Swayamvar (1980), Pyaara Dushman (1980) and Love Story (1981). But soon Vidya Sinha took retirement which she later repented. In an interview, she said, “I took a break at the peak of my career. I should not have done that. But the birth of my daughter was more precious than my filmy career.”
In a short span of over a decade, Vidya Sinha left her distinct mark as a new kind of heroine who was deglamorized and a typical girl-next-door! Born in a family of filmmakers, Vidya‘s father Rana Pratap Singh produced two hit films like Vidya and Jeet. Both had the hit romantic pair both Dev Anand and Suraiya. Her grandfather Mohan Sinha was also a producer and director. Hence Vidya‘s inclination to glamour was evident. When she turned adult, her aunt insisted her to participate in Miss Bombay Beauty Contest, despite hesitation; she filled the form and to her pleasant surprise won the contest. The contest opened doors of modeling and she started doing modeling. Her first modeling assignment was Goldspot (famous soft drink of the ’70s). Her assignments include Colgate, Khatau Fabrics, Lipton tea.
Vidya Sinha fell in love with her neighbor a Tamilian Brahmin, Vernkateshwaran Iyer and tied the nuptial knot at the young age of 19 years! After marriage, she continued modeling and was noticed by Basu Chatterjee. She was delighted but her in-laws were against her acting in films but Vidya threatened that if she is not allowed she would run away from the house!
Working with the Show-Man of the film industry Raj Kapoor was the pride of any actor but kudos to Vidya Sinha, she dared to say ‘No’ to Raj Kapoor! Few are aware that Raj Kapoor who had good relation with Vidya Sinha’s father film producer Rana Pratap Singh, had approached him and asked to persuade Vidya to do the lead role of Radha in his film Satyam Shivam Sundaram but Vidya Sinha declined the role as she was uncomfortable wearing the revealing outfits that Zeenat Aman wore.
She was also signed by filmmaker Nasir Hussain in a film opposite thespian Dilip Kumar but lady luck ditched her as the film got sleeved. Nevertheless, Vidya Sinha was happy as she got the opportunity to work with good actors like Sanjeev Kumar (Pati Patni Aur Woh), Uttam Kumar (Kitaab), Rajesh Khanna (Karm), Shashi Kapoor (Mukti), Vinod Khanna (Inkaar). Recently she worked with Salman Khan (Bodyguard).
Vidya Sinha returned to acting in 2000 and did TV serials like Bahu Rani (2000), Hum Do Hain Na, Bhabhi and Kavyanjali (2004), Haar Jeet (2011), Qubool Hai (2016).
Indian Film History pays humble tribute to Vidya Sinha and concludes with befitting lines on her famous song
Na jaane kyon, hota hai yeh zindagi ke saath
achanak ye man
kisi ke jaane ke baad, kare phir usiki yaad
chhoti chhoti si baat, na jaane kyon