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Sulakshana Pandit's riches-to-rags story

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By: Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
"At one time I just wanted to look as glamorous as Sulakshana Pandit," Shabana Azmi said in one of her interviews. Her story is the stuff Hindi melodramas were made of. It's a classic riches-to-rags story. But done with a horribly contemporary twist.

At one time Sulakshana Pundit was the belle of the Bollywood ball. Slated to be Indian cinema's first singer-actress after Noor Jehan and Suraiya, Sulakshana sang a number of hits at the peak of Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle's crooning reign.

Not only did Sulakshana get to sing extensively, she also played the lead opposite the top-most stars of the 1970s including Jeetendra (Khandaan, Sankoch) and Sanjeev Kumar (Uljhan). In fact she was in love with Sanjeev and badly wanted to marry him. But a Hema-besotted Sanjeev never took her feelings seriously.

Rebuffed in love, Sulakshana's world fell apart. She lost all her money and fame...Worst of all, the siblings whom she mothered into success refused to support her, rendering her emotionally bereft and homeless....Until she was taken in by her brother-in-law composer Aadesh Shrivastava and her sister Vijayta.

Today Sulakshana is healed and whole again, and well on the way to recovering ground. Says Aadesh, "When Vijayta suggested that Sulakshanaji come and stay with her, I immediately agreed. In fact it was something I had been thinking of. Today she's with us, very much part of our family. Sulakshanaji is ready to sing again. She keeps telling me to create a whole album for her. And I'm going to do just that for her very soon."

Adds, Vijayta, "I'm so glad my sister is at home with us. It couldn't have been done without my husband's support and encouragement. It's so important for a woman to keep her links with her own family after marriage. My husband is sensitive enough to understand that. I guess I'm lucky."

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