In the glitzy world of Hindi cinema, where stars rise and fade, Zaheeda Hussain remains a name etched in the memories of 60s and 70s Bollywood enthusiasts. At 79, the former actress, known mononymously as Zaheeda, may have stepped away from the limelight, but her contribution to the industry is not forgotten.
Zaheeda, born to Akhtar Hussain, the brother of the iconic actress Nargis, had the silver screen in her blood. Her lineage is traced back to the legendary Jaddanbai, who was married thrice, with her first marriage to Narottam Das Khatri, later known as Bachhubhai. Nargis, the daughter of Jaddanbai and Mohanchand Uttamchand Tyagi (Abdul Rashid), is Sanjay Dutt’s mother, making Zaheeda and Sanjay Dutt siblings.
Despite a limited filmography, Zaheeda left an indelible mark. Dev Anand, a stalwart of Hindi cinema, gave her a break she dreamed of, casting her in ‘Anokhi Raat’ (1968) and ‘Prem Pujari (1970). In 1971, director Amarjeet fulfilled her dream by making her the lead actress in ‘Gambler.
However, success brought its own set of challenges. Zaheeda, enamored by Dev Anand, turned down the opportunity to star in the blockbuster ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’ as she was offered the role of Dev Anand’s sister, contrary to her aspirations of portraying his love interest. The role eventually went to Zeenat Aman, who captivated audiences with her performance.
Following a hiatus from the film industry, Zaheeda embraced a new chapter in her life by marrying businessman Kesri Nandan Sahay. The couple welcomed two sons, Nilesh Sahay and Brajesh. Nilesh followed in his mother’s footsteps, debuting in Ganesh Acharya’s film ‘Angel’ in 2011.
Zaheeda’s decision to bid adieu to the silver screen marked her transition from actress to homemaker. While her cinematic journey was brief, her legacy endures through the memories of her performances and the timeless song ‘Churi Nahin Ye Mera Dil Hai…’. Today, Zaheeda lives as a reminder of Bollywood’s golden era, where dreams were woven on the celluloid canvas, leaving an everlasting impact on the hearts of cinephiles.