Mumbai: Mala Sinha, the legendary-in-her-own-right actress who has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement honour at the Filmfare Awards 2018, is not overjoyed at the belated recognition.
“Do you know, I’ve never won a Filmfare Award before this? During my heydays, I was nominated several times. In fact, I’d be nominated almost every year during the 1960s. But for reasons unknown to me, the award always went to some other actress,” Mala said.
She recounted that in 1965, she was nominated for two very contrasting roles in Jahan Ara and Himalay Ki God Mein.
“The then-editor of Filmfare B.K. Karanjia told me to come for the function as I was the most likely winner for either of my performances. I excitedly got up in the morning to put together my clothes and accessories. But when it came to getting the award in the evening, it went to Vyjayanthimalaji for ‘Sangam’.
“Another time, another year again, I was told by Karanjia saab that I was likely to be awarded for ‘Bahurani’. But the award went to Meenaji (Meena Kumari) for ‘Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam”.”
Mala says it is not as though she has lost faith in the awards in recent times.
“It was always like that. My best performances in films like ‘Dharmputra’, ‘Dhool Ka Phool’ (where I played an unwed mother), ‘Gumrah’, ‘Bahurani’ and ‘Jahan Ara’ were never recognized. For Guru Dutt’s ‘Pyaasa’, my difficult role of a girl who sacrifices love for financial security in her marriage, was ignored as a ‘negative’ character.
“My reward came many years later when Mahesh Bhatt saab praised me in ‘Pyaasa’ for conveying so many emotions through my eyes.”
The actress feels she has always been given a raw deal in the hall of recognition. But she says she feels no regret for having failed to get awards during her career.
“Nowadays, there are at least 10 to 12 awards functions. They mean nothing. Even when awards meant something, they were manipulated. My Baba (father) always told me, I should be happy with the recognition and fame that I get. I never wooed the awards or asked journalists to write about me. I never knew how to do my own promotion. Maybe that’s why I got left behind.”
Not that Mala is not happy about being recognized for her work.
“Der aaye durust aaye (better late than never). I wanted to say this in my thank you speech for the Filmfare Award for lifetime achievement which I finally got after actors and actresses who came much after me, got it. I have been working since 1957. Actresses who came long after me were given the Lifetime Achievement award much before me.
“Thankfully, they thought of me while I am still alive. And I’m grateful to have got it. But I still wonder why I was never recognized for my best performances. Was I not as good as my contemporaries?”