Sulakshna Pandit: A Bitter Sweet Melody
Today Sulakshna Pandit turned 62. Sulakshna.? Pandit.? Who ? Exactly the queries that would arise in the minds of today’s whatsapp / twitter generation youngsters. Well, Sulakshna Pandit may not be a big name today but in her heydays she was the only Singing Actress who hypnotized the audience with her chiseled beauty and honey dipped vocals. [ Read: The Quintessential Bollywood Bubble Neetu Singh]
Sulakshna Pandit was born on 12th July 1954 in an illustrious Musical Family which boasts of legendary classical exponents like her Father Pratap Narain Pandit and uncle Padmshri Pandit Jasraj. She started her Bollywood career as a child singer singing the lullaby “Pappa Jaldi Aa Jana” along with Lata Mangeshkar in Taqdeer (1967). Being rooted in music and having the signing genes in her DNA she continued singing in films such as Bambai Raat Ki Bahon Main, Mahua, Door Ka Rahi and also accompanied singers Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar and Mukesh on their World Tour Concerts. [ Read: Sultan ( 2016) Movie Review by Anuj Naik]
Her career took a dramatic turn in 1974 when she was offered the romantic fantasy Bundalbaaz by Shammi Kapoor who was directing it with Rajesh Khanna in the lead. She lapped up the opportunity to pursue an alternate acting career alongside her singing assignments. She went on to act in films like Uljhan, Hera Pheri, Sankoch, Apnapan, Thief of Baghdad, Khandan, Raaz, Dharam Kanta, Barrister, Raja and several others taking a tally upto 50 feature films from 1974 to 1988. She was mostly cast opposite Sanjeev Kumar and Jeetendra but also worked with Rishi Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna, Raj Babbar and Shatrughan Sinha.
Sulakshna Pandit claimed she had asked for the mike and was shown the mirror. Such was her popularity as a beautiful singing star that actress Shabana Azmi said in one of her interview that she wanted to look as glamorous as Sulakshna. Though playback singing was her priority she accepted acting offers and sang her own songs at any given opportunity besides singing for actresses like Rekha, Tanuja, Sharmila Tagore, Nutan, Moushumi Chatterji, Shabana Azmi and Raakhee Gulzar. [ Read: Hollywood a Threat to Bollywood: Says Amitabh]
She won the Filmfare Best Playback singer award in 1975 for her devotional song Dhoondta hai tu kiska Sahara in the film Sankalp in an year when there were singers like Asha Bhosle and Usha Mangeshkar nominated. She sang for composers like Shankar Jaikishen, Khaiyyam, Kanu Roy, Laxmikant Pyarelal, Kalyanji Anandji, Rajesh Roshan, Bappi Lahiri, Usha Khanna and several others. Besides Hindi she also sang songs in English, Marathi, Bengali, Oriya and Gujarati.
In an interview given to Filmfare Magazine in August 2002 Sulakshna Pandit confessed she was in love with Co actor Sanjeev Kumar and his untimely death in 1985 affected her strongly. Post 1988 she has stayed away from the public eye and shuns any Film Functions or occasions involving public appearances. By her own claim Sulakshna had desired to be a top playback singer in Bollywood but could never reach the number one position in-spite of winning awards and singing for majority of the popular Music composers of 70s and 80s.
Her brothers Jatin and Lalit have been very successful music directors in the period 1990 to 2010. Sister Vijeta Pandit acted in films from 1981 to 1990 and also sang in films. Currently her niece Shweta Pandit is a renowned playback singer and concert performer. [ Read: Raman Raghav 2.0 (2016) Movie Review]
Sulakshna Pandit in her heyday lived in the posh high rise Kings Apartments in Juhu Mumbai and owned two high end cars. Today she lives with her sister and leads the life of an recluse who is almost forgotten by the industry and audience alike. A poignant bitter sweet life of this Singing Star can well be an emotional roller coaster tear jerkier story of any of her family dramas that she had acted in her times.
Happy 62nd Birthday wishes to the Forgotten Star of yesteryear, a song from her film Apnapan chronicles the life and times of the Kashmiri Beauty aptly;
“Aadmi Musafir Hai
Aata Hai Jata Hai
Aate Jaate Raste mein
Yaadein Chhod Jata Hai “