Padma Khanna was born on 10th March 1940. She was a small-timer in Bhojpuri films and a talented Kathakali dancer. After “Ganga Maiya Tohe Pihyari Chadaibo”, came her phase in Hindi films. Padma made her debut in Bollywood with the film Mehrban (1967), also starring Ashok Kumar, Nutan and Sunil Dutt. The movie became a hit.
Padma next featured in Rajesh Khanna-Asha Parekh starrer Baharon Ke Sapne (1967) which won wide appreciation. She appeared in Chetan Anand’s Heer Ranjha (1970). She then played a cabaret dancer in the blockbuster film Johny Mera Naam (1970), starring Dev Anand and Hema Malini. Padma shot to instant fame with this film. Sunil Dutt’s Reshma Aur Shera (1971) was a commercial and critical success. Padma then featured in Raaj Kumar-starrer Lal Patthar (1971) and in the comedy flick Pyar Diwana (1972), starring Kishore Kumar. Raampur Ka Lakshman (1972), starring Randhir Kapoor and Rekha in the lead, was another hit in Padma’s kitty. Thus, she gained increasing recognition.
Padma also starred in the thriller Jangal Mein Mangal (1972). She then did an off-beat film Saudagar (1973), starring Amitabh Bachchan, and Naina (1973), starring Shashi Kapoor and Moushumi Chatterjee. Chetan Anand’s Hindustan Ki Kasam (1973), in which Padma appeared, was a great war-based film. She also did Yash Chopra’s Daag: A Poem Of Love (1973), starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore in the lead. The movie was a huge hit. Anokhi Ada (1973) and Aaj Ki Taaza Khabar (1973) didn’t do well at the box-office. Padma also made a brief appearance in B.R.Chopra’s thriller flick Dhund (1973). She then starred in the hit film Loafer (1973) with Dharmendra in the lead. Ravi tandon’s Anhonee (1973) earned moderate success, while Yash Chopra’s Joshila (1973), also starring Dev Anand, flopped. 1974-75 saw a spree of flops for Padma, as she starred in Paise Ki Gudiya (1974), Jeevan Sangram (1974), Badla (1974), Mere Sartaj (1975), Aakhri Dao (1975), besides others, all of which failed at the box-office. Geet Gaata Chal (1975), starring Sachin and Sarika, was a good film.
Padma performed for the Qawwali track ‘Deewana hoon deewana, deewana tere naam ka…’ in the film Ek Se Badhkar Ek (1976), starring Raaj Kumar and Sharmila Tagore. She then featured in Prakash Mehra’s Hera Pheri (1976), starring Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Khanna in the lead. The movie became a hit. Mahesh Bhatt’s Vishwasghaat (1977), starring Sanjeev Kumar, Shabana Azmi and others, featured Padma again as a dancer. She then did a couple of films with Rajesh Khanna, viz. Joy Mukherjee’s Chhaila Babu (1977), which faired below average, and Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Naukri (1978), also starring Raj Kapoor. Noorie (1979), starring Farooq Shaikh and Poonam Dhillon, was a huge hit. Padma also featured in a few flops like Lakhan (1979), Bagula Bhagat (1979), and Do Shikaari (1979). Prakash Mehra’s Desh Drohee (1980) and Ravi Chopra’s The Burning Train (1980) faired below average at the box-office, while Ramsay’s thriller Saboot (1980) earned mediocre success.
Jyoti (1981), starring Jeetendra and Hema Malini in the lead, was an average affair. Padma then featured in another Ramsay thriller Ghungroo Ki Awaaz (1981). Padma’s next few releases had all faired poorly. These included Shakti Samanta’s Ayaash (1982), Karishma Kudrat Kaa (1985) and Anokha Insaan (1986). Sultanat (1986) and Anubhav (1986) were good films. Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani (1988) was a good family entertainer. She then did Farz Ki Jung (1989), Aurat Aur Patthar (1991 and the Dharmendra-starrer Aatank (1996). Padma last appeared in Rahul Roy-Karisma Kapoor starrer Megha (1996). Padma also starred in Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan – TV series (1986-1988). She played Kaikeyi’s role.
Padma was first brought before Vijay Anand who thought she wasn’t good enough. But she proved him wrong and won herself a huge set of fans. She gave good performances too, for example in Saudagar, but so popular was her cabaret that the image of a cabaret dancer stuck to her forever. Recently, after doing a couple of TV serials, an aging Padma Khanna has disappeared from the public eye.