Remember those days of the seventies and eighties? Things were changing gradually, politically and socially. And the world of Hindi cinema saw a shift from super star Rajesh Khanna’s romantic spell to the aggressive though lonely ‘Angry Young Man’ reflected in Amitabh Bachchan.
But well, in between these tumultuous shifts, there was a soothing breath of fresh air; some small budget films which kept the feet on ground and told simple stories of the common small town man.
And these films found a befitting heroine in Vidya Sinha. Unlike the glamorous Rekha, Zeenat Aman and Parveen Babi, Vidya Sinha came across as a simple, pleasant, not so pretty but oh-so-charming person who lit up the screen with her vibrant, chirpy presence.
Many of the boys at that time fell for her charms in Chhoti Si Baat by Basu Chatterjee in which she is wooed by a timid suitor (Amol Palekar) who seeks a retired colonel (Ashok Kumar) help in gaining confidence to express his feelings to her. Though the boys of course empathised with Amol Palekar’s character, Vidya Sinha portrayed the kind of girl everyone of them dreamt of.
Her portrayal of a mature character caught between two suitors in Rajnigandha again drew the audiences to her. She was the ideal young woman, trying to find a career and confused between two relationships. More than dialogues, her silence and expressive eyes conveyed a lot. Till date, ‘Rajnigandha phool tumhare...’ is one of the most romantic songs of Hindi cinema.
The remarkable thing about this kind of cinema and actors like Amol Palekar and Vidya Sinha was that amid the pomp and show of the loud and violent commercial cinema of the time, they gracefully carved a niche for themselves,gave some successful films on the box office and had a shelf life in the sense that even today I see many teenagers watching those films fondly.
They were not larger than life characters, saying heroically ‘Mein aaj bhi fenke huye paise nahin uthata’ (Even today, I don’t pick up money thrown at me). Instead these characters were real life people living and dreaming in small towns of India, having their own small moving stories. And Vidya Sinha completely fitted the bill. Almost every young man or woman admired her simply because they could identify with her.
As for me, Vidya Sinha always reminded me of my mother and I always told my mother so. When I became a teenager, Vidya Sinha suddenly looked very similar to one of my lecturers in college. That was the magic of the brief spell of fame as an actor Vidya Sinha had.
Though she could not be a very ‘successful’ heroine of Hindi cinema but whatever success she had, remains intact even now. She is not only etched in the memories of my generation people who are well into their fifties, but is also admired by the younger ones of 21st century as I see my son fondly watching the song from Rajnigandha.
Her charm lingers on....