Remembering yesteryear Hindi film actress Anita Guha, on her 11th death anniversary.
Anita Guha was a renowned Hindi film actress known for portraying mythological characters in films. She was born in Kolkata in 1932. At the age of fifteen, she moved to Mumbai to participate in a beauty pageant and decided to stay on and work in the film industry. She made her debut with the Bengali film Bansher Kella (1953), and two years later, acted in her first Hindi film, Tangewali (1955). She steadily gained popularity over the next five years with films like Sharada (1957), before appearing as Sita in the film Sampoorna Ramayana (1961), which further boosted her success. Later that decade, she acted in the role of Rajesh Khanna’s adoptive mother in Aradhana (1969), another well-appreciated film.
She married the acclaimed actor Manik Dutt, and established a friendship with actresses of her time including Mala Sinha, and Helen. However, it was yet another mythological film, Jai Santoshi Maa (1975), in which Guha played the role of the titular character, which showcased her most well-recognized performance. The film received an unexpectedly enthusiastic response given its low budget and lack of big stars, and ended up being one of the highest grossing films of 1975. Both the film, and its lead actress Anita Guha, became revered by many audiences, to the extent that some would even remove their shoes before entering theatres, as a matter of offering respect! Initially, due to a packed schedule with no time to eat, Anita Guha herself ended up treating the film as a holy experience, despite not being a devotee of the goddess, and chose to fast on the days she was shooting for it.
Jai Santoshi Maa (1975), and Sampoorna Ramayana (1961), were two among many other mythological films that Anita Guha acted in, including Kavi Kalidas (1959) and Krishna Krishna (1986). Anita Guha went on to act in over sixty films in a career spanning more than thirty-five years.
She passed away on June 20, 2007, after a cardiac arrest following a prolonged illness. Just a year before her death, Guha was quoted, talking about the lasting effect the role of Santoshi Maa had on her everyday life. “People have forgotten my real name … Even today when I go out on the roads they call me Santoshi Maa.”
Such a beautiful and talented actress, may her soul rest in eternal peace.