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07-28-2009, 07:02 PM #1
Satyajit Ray planned film with Leela Naidu, Brando
The reticent Leela Naidu was averse to Hindi commercial cinema. She felt that mainstream cinema did not give her much scope to exhibit her histrionic abilities.
She always said, "In a type of cinema where illogical songs and dances rule the roost, what special can I deliver?"
Known as the brightest discovery of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, she started her acting carrier in Anuradha opposite Balraj Sahni. The highly gifted actor was very pleased working with her sophisticated and disciplined co-star and said, "Here is one actress who is not only graceful but versatile." Pundit Ravi Shanker who scored music for Anuradha, remembers Leela Naidu, "as an actress at par with Ava Gardner and Sophia Loren."
Leela Naidu's co star Shashi Kapoor, of her first-ever English film The Householder, comments, “When we worked together she never threw any tantrums. She was of a withdrawn nature and depended on her expressive eyes to convey a myraid of emotions. In the romantic scenes she was able to express much more with her carefree smile than unnecessary dialogues and hugging."
Watching her in The Householder, Satyajit Ray said, “I will surely cast her in my first ever English film. She is simply brilliant." Ray did plan The Journey with Marlon Brando, Shashi Kapoor and Leela Naidu but sadly the film never went on the floors.
When Leela Naidu was chosen by James Ivory and Ismail Merchant for The Householder, they were criticized by the typical, commercial producers of Bollywood for being too arty in their choice. Merchant stuck to his decision and firmly said, “No Leela Naidu, no Householder. The film made the late BR Chopra rise to the occasion and confess, “There are very few directors in Bollywood who can handle a subtle actress like Leela Naidu.” The legendary Suchitra Sen watched her in Yeh Raaste... and highly complimented her lipping the song Yeh khamoshiyan, yeh tanhaiyaan... with Sunil Dutt, rendered by Mohd Rafi and Asha Bhonsle and tuned by Ravi.
Leela Naidu silenced all her critics with her dynamic performance opposite Sunil Dutt and Rehman in Yeh Raaste Hai Pyar Ke directed by R K Nayyar. Says Manoj Kumar, "The way she seduced Rehman in the film was a class apart from her seniors and contemporaries. Two movements of her shoulders and her arresting smile conveyed all without making her appear vulgar at any point of time."
Sir David Lean met her in India in 1965 and complimented her as a method actress who never curtailed her spontaneity. Her last appearance was in Shyam Benegal's Trikaal. She gave a studied and controlled performance in the film. Says Shyam Benegal, “It was a sheer haunting experience to work with Leela Naidu who breathed innocence and serenity in her performance."
Leela Naidu's biggest regret was that she could not work in Guide though she was Chetan Anand's favourite and choice for the film as she was not a trained dancer. Here, Waheeda Rehman scored over her with her dancing abilities and as Dev Anand had committed Guide to her already.
07-28-2009, 07:10 PM #2
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