Remembering yesteryears actress & actor Emraan Hashmi’s grandmother Purnima on her 85th birth anniversary.
Born on 2nd March 1932 in Mumbai, Poornima’s father Ram Sheshadri Ayangar was a Tamil Brahmin who used to handle accounts at Manmohan Desai’s film distributor father Kiku Bhai Desai’s office. Poornima’s mother was from a Muslim family of Lucknow. At home other than her parents there were 5 daughters (including Poornima) and 1 son. In the 1930’s decade, Poornima’s eldest sister Shirin had also worked in films like ‘Bambai Ki Sethani’ (1935), ‘Passing Show’ (1936), ‘Khwab Ki Duniya’ (1937), ‘State Express’ (1938) and ‘Bijli’ (1939). Shirin was Producer-Director Nanabhai Bhatt’s second wife and the famous film maker Mahesh Bhatt is the same Shirin’s son and Poornima’s nephew.
According to Poornima that era’s well known director Raman B. Desai, who was also their neighbor, had offered Poornima ‘Radha’s’ role in his Guajarati film ‘Radheshyam’. Poornima was still in school at that time. For the film, her elder sister Shirin, gave her the alias ‘Poornima’ in place of her real name ‘Meher Bano’. The film ‘Radheshyam’ was released in the year 1948 and at that time Poornima was merely 16 years old. According to Poornima, “My first Hindi film was Kedar Sharma’s ‘Thes’ where I was playing the second lead.” Featuring Bharat Bhushan and Shashikala in the main roles, this film was released in the year 1948.
According to the senior film historian Shri Harish Raghuwanshi, in the year 1947 i.e. a year before ‘Thes’, Poornima had acted in two Hindi films ‘Manager’ and ‘Tum Aur Mai’ and in 1948 other than ‘Radheshyam’ she had also worked in Director Raja Yagnik’s Gujrati film ‘Saavaki Maa’.
After ‘Thes’ Poornima saw 2 more releases in 1949 viz. ‘Narad Muni’, and ‘Patanga’ where she was seen playing the second lead in both the films. While Raman B.Desai’s Gujarati and Hindi bilingual film ‘Narad Muni’ and Kedar Sharma’s ‘Thes’ could not create much box office magic, Producer Bhagwan Dass Varma’s film ‘Patanga’ proved to be very successful. Composed by C.Ramchandra, 2 songs of this musical hit film ‘dil se bhula do tum hamein’ and ‘o jaane waale tone armanon ki duniya loot li’ were filmed on Poornima and after the film’s release Poornima’s schedule became very hectic.
Having stayed away from acting for 3 years, Poornima decided to return to acting just so that she could stabilize the financial situation at home.
Poornima’s husband Bhagwan Dass Varma was a famous Producer-Director of his time who had many successful films like ‘Patanga’, ‘Sagai’, ‘Badal’, ‘Aurat’, ‘Parvat’ and ‘Pooja’ under his banner of ‘Varma Films’. Bhagwan Dass Varma passed away in 1962. According to Poornima she acted in almost 200 films in a career spanning 38 years. Her only son worked in Air India. Shaqeela, Saira Bano and Dulari are her close friends. Since Shaqeela and Saira Bano stay close to Poornima’s house they keep meeting quite regularly.