Divya Kapoorwrote on Aug 11 2008 7:11PM
Shashikala was born in 1933 in Solapur, Maharashtra. At the tender age of 5, she started dancing, singing and acting on stage in many towns in Solapur district. A few years later, her father became bankrupt and they moved to Mumbai. Shashikala wandered around looking for work in films. She earned small amounts till she met Noor Jehan, the reigning screen queen during those years.
Noor Jehan's husband, Shaukat, who was making a movie Zeenat then, in the early 1940s, included Shashikala in a qawwali scene. The film was being made in Urdu, so Shashikala quickly learnt that language. She received 25 rupees for her role. She struggled for a while, and got small roles in movies made by P. N. Arora, Amiya Chakravarti, and a few other producers. She got a role in V. Shantaram’s Teen Batti Char Rasta (1953), and a few other movies. Shashikala appeared in Bibhuti Mitra’s Shart (1954) which was a success. Sangam (1954), Bahu (1955) and Bandhan (1956) didn’t do well. Vijay Anand’s Nau Do Gyarah (1957) was an average affair. Bimay Roy’s Sujata (1959) met with mediocre success at the box-office, but was a huge critical success. The film won several awards. In the early 1960s, Shashikala encountered huge success. Kanoon (1960), Junglee (1961), Hariyali Aur Raasta (1962) and Anpadh (1962) were huge hits. Aarti (1962) was both a commercial and a critical success, which even won Shashikala an award. Her career-graph was on the rise. Shashikala did many films thereafter, which were a mixture of hits and flops. Gumrah (1963), Ayee Milan Ki Bela (1964) and Himalay Ki Godh Mein (1965) were hugely successful. Humrahi (1963), Aap Ki Parchhaiyan (1964) and Neela Akash (1965) did average business, while Jahan Ara (1964) and Bedaag (1965) were poor. Waqt (1965) and Phool Aur Patthar (1966) were huge blockbusters. Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare (1966), Devar (1966) and Anupama (1966) gained mediocre success. The multi-starrer Mehrbaan (1967), Neel Kamal (1968) and Humjoli (1970) were hits as well. Shashikala then did a couple of films like Jawan Mohabbat (1971) and Chhote Sarkar (1974), after which she disappeared from the film arena for a short while. Shashikala came back with films like Dulhan Wohi Jo Piya Man Bhaaye and Dildaar in 1977, which gained success. She also appeared in the Rishi Kapoor-starrer Sargam (1979) which was a huge hit. Swayamvar (1980) and Khubsoorat (1980) did well too. Kranti (1981) was a huge blockbuster. Rocky (1981) and Jyoti (1981) gained mediocre success. Samraat (1982) did average business. Arjun (1985) was a great action flick. This film encouraged movie-makers to introduce more hard-core action in their films. Shashikala then did Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani (1988), after which she took another break for almost ten years. Shashikala again made a comeback in 1997. Most of her films were flops, like Salma Pe Dil Aa Gaya (1997), Lahoo Ke Do Rang (1997), Maharaja (1998), Pardesi Babu (1998) and Mother (1999). Baadshah (1999) did average business. Shashikala was then seen in some good films like Jhankaar Beats (2003) and Chori Chori (2003) and the hugely successful films, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (2001) and Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004). She last appeared in Padmashree Laloo Prasad Yadav in 2005. She has worked in few TV serials like Jeena Isi Ka Naam for Sony, Apnapan for Zee TV and Dil Deke Dekho for Star Plus.
While in her early twenties, Shashikala met and married Om Prakash Saigal, and had two daughters. Her husband is ill now and is confined to their farm in Nainital. One daughter lives now in Kolkata, while the other daughter died sometime back due to cancer. Shashikala met Mother Teresa in Calcutta, and worked for nine years in her various homes, cleaning latrines, sweeping floors and wards, loving leprosy patients, cuddling orphans and staying by the deathbed of many.