Mala Sinha

Mala Sinha

Mala Sinha in Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi (1966)
Born Alda Sinha
11 November 1936 (1936-11-11) (age 75)
Kashmir, India
Occupation Actress
Years active 1952–1994
Spouse Chidambar Prasad Lohani

Mala Sinha (Hindi: माला सिन्हा) (born 11 November 1936) is an Indian actress, who has worked in Hindi, Bengali and Nepali films. Recognised for her acting talent and beauty, she went on to become a popular leading actress in Hindi films from the early fifties till late seventies. Sinha has starred in over a hundred film productions.[1]


Early life

Sinha was born to Albert Sinha, in a Indian-Nepali Christian family in Kashmir in India. They named her Alda. Her friends at school used to tease her calling Dalda (a branded vegetable oil of India), so she changed her name to Mala.[2] In her childhood she learnt dancing and singing. She has never done playback singing in films but has been a singer and has done stage shows and sung in many languages in period 1947-1975.


Sinha started her film career as child artist in Bengali films Jai Vaishno Devi followed by Shri Krishan Leela, Jog Biyog and Dhooli. Noted Bengali film director Ardhendu Bose saw her acting in a school play and took permission from her father to cast her as a heroine in his film Roshanara (1952), her cinematic debut.

After acting in a couple of films in Calcutta, Mala had to go to Bombay to shoot for a Bengali film. There she met Geeta Bali, a noted Bollywood Actress, who was charmed by her and introduced her to film director Kidar Sharma. It was Sharma who cast her as a heroine in his film Rangeen Ratein. However, her first Hindi film was Badshah opposite Pradeep Kumar, then came Ekadashi; a mythological film. Both films failed, but her lead role in Kishore Sahu's Hamlet, paired opposite Pradeep Kumar, fetched her rave reviews in spite of the film failing at the boxoffice.[3] Films like ‘Lai Batti’ (ac­tor Balraj Sahni’s only directorial venture), ‘Nausherwan-E-Adil’ where she starred as the fair maiden Marcia in Sohrab Modi’s romance about forbidden love and ‘Phir Subah Hogi’, which was direc­tor Ramesh Saigal’s adapta­tion of Dosteovsky’s ‘Crime & Punishment’ established Mala Sinha’s reputation as a versatile actress who took the maximum career risks by accepting different unconventional roles

Mala was also a singer of some repute and used to sing for All India Radio, albeit she was never allowed to sing playback (even for herself) in the movies with the lone exception being 1972 film Lalkar.[4] In the fifties, she had string of hits opposite Pradeep Kumar like Fashion(1957), Detective(1958), Duniya Na Mane(1959) though their first two ventures had failed.The films she did with Pradeep Kumar were men oriented films. In 1957, noted Bollywood actor and film director Guru Dutt (the husband of Geeta Dutt) cast Mala in his film Pyaasa(1957) in a role originally intended for Madhubala. Mala gave a memorable performance as the relatively unsympa­thetic part of an ambitious woman who chooses to marry a rich man (played by actor Rehman) and have loveless marriage with him rather than a poor unsuccessful poet and her impoverished lover (played by Guru Dutt himself)whom she ditches.

Mala Sinha with Guru Dutt in Pyaasa (1957) a turning point in her career.

The film remains to this day a classic in the history of Indian cinema and a turning point for Sinha.

After Pyaasa her major success were Phir Subah Hogi(1958) and Yash Chopra's directorail debut Dhool Ka Phool (1959) that elevated her into a major dramatic star.[5] There was no looking back for Sinha then as she was part of many successful male oriented movies from 1958 and early sixties like Parvarish(1958), Ujala, Main Nashe Main Hoon, Duniya Na Mane, Love Marriage(1959), Bewaqoof(1960), Maya(1961), Hariyali Aur Rasta and Dil Tera Deewana(1962), Anpadh,Bombay Ka Chor(1962).Critics believe her career best performance was in Bahurani(1963), Gumrah, Gehra Daag, Apne Huye Paraye and Jahan Ara.[6] Apart from her pair with Pradeep Kumar, her pairing opposite Raaj Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Biswajit and Manoj Kumar in the woman oriented films were appreciated by audiences, with her films opposite Biswajit being the most popular. With Raaj Kumar, she gave box office hits like Phool Bane Angaare, Maryada and Karmayogi and opposite Manoj Kumar, gave commercial successes like Hariyali Aur Rasta, Apne Huye Paraye and Himalaya Ki God Mein. The hit films with Rajendra Kumar were Devar Bhabhi, Dhool Ka Phool, Patang, Geet and Lalkar and with Biswajit, her popular movies include Aasra, Night in London, Do Kaliyaan, Tamanna, Nai Roshni and critically acclaimed films Pyar Ka Sapna, Paisa Ya Pyaar, Jaal and Phir Kab Milogi (1974 film). She did maximum films i.e. 10 with Biswajit.In the year 2007, the screen awards gave The Star Screen Lifetime Achievement Award to both Biswajit and Mala Sinha, by calling them on stage together giving due respect to the fact they were popular as a pair and have tasted box office success.[7] The most remarkable feature of career of Mala Sinha was that most of her 1960s and 1970s hits were fuelled by her own star power as much as the heroes and most of the times her role was more powerful than the hero.

Though she was pitted opposite her seniors like Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Kishore Kumar, Pradeep Kumar and also when she acted opposite the emerging stars from late 1950s like Shammi Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar and Raaj Kumar, she made sure her role was minimum as good as theirs. The characters played by her stood out and gave her recognition for her performances. Mala Sinha did not mind working with newcomers as long as her role was worth. She worked with many newcomers of her era including Manoj Kumar, Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna, Sunil Dutt, Sanjay Khan, Jeetendra and Amitabh Bachchan. In most of her films from the sixties, she got the first billing in the credits, even before the heroes, with exceptions being the films she acted with Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Pradeep Kumar and Kishore Kumar.

In 1966, Sinha went to Nepal to act in a Nepali film called Maitighar when the Nepali film industry was still in its infancy. Her hero in the film was an estate owner called Chidambar Prasad Lohani.[8] Soon after, Mala Sinha married C. P. Lohani with the blessings of her parents. From the beginning theirs was a long-distance marriage with Lohani based in Kathmandu to look after his business and she living in Bombay with their daughter Pratibha. Mala continued acting in films after her marriage.[1]

She has been a heroine in Nepali and Bengali films. In Bengali films she has acted with Uttam Kumar as well as Kishore Kumar. Her last Bengali film as a main female lead was Kabita(1977) which featured Ranjit Mullick and Kamal Hassan was a super-hit at the box office. She is noted for her strong women oriented yet glamorous roles fuelled by her equal star power on par with the heroes in films like Dhool Ka Phool, Suhag Sindoor,Anpadh, Phir Subah Hogi, Hariyali Aur Rasta, Bahurani, Aasra, Do Kaliyaan, Gumrah, Aankhen, Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi, Himalaya Ki God Mein, Do Kaliyaan, Holi Aayi Re, Nai Roshni, Mere Huzoor, Kangan, Archana, Maryada amongst others.[9]

Of her rich and varied repertoire of films, she mentions she is rather partial to Jahan Ara(1964), a historical that Meena Kumari passed on to her as she says:

"Meenaji turned down the role saying that she would not look the part whereas I would. Given my ignorance of Urdu, I was rather skeptical but Meenaji was convinced that I could do justice to the role. Playing Mumtaz Mahal's eldest daughter entailed grueling Urdu classes and learning royal tehzeeb. It was hot on the grand sets erected at Ranjit Studio and the film had Madan Mohan's haunting music. It was a film replete with lyrical moments".[1]

From 1974,she cut down on her films assignments as the lead actresses. She accepted strong character roles in films like 36 Ghante(1974), Zindagi(1976), Karmayogi(1978), Be-Reham (1980), Harjaee(1981), Yeh Rishta Na Tootay, Babu (film) and Khel, which were popular films. In the early 90's Madhuri Dixit was promoted as new Mala Sinha in magazines.But after 1994, she completely withdrew herself from industry and has given very few public appearances. In ‘Dhool Ka Phool’ and B.R. Chopra’s ‘Gumrah’, she played the first unwed mother and adulterous wife respectively in Hindi Cinema. As she grew older, she gracefully moved on to doing character roles that befitted her age. She was last seen in Zid (1994).[10] Though Mala evinced as much interest in her daughter Pratibha's career as her father did in her career, she was unable to achieve the same success for her daughter.[11]

Personal life

Sinha married her co-star from Nepali Films, Chidambar Prasad Lohani in 1968. The couple met when they worked together in the Nepali film Maiti Ghar (1966). Lohani had an estate agency business. Post her marriage, she used to come and stay in Mumbai to shoot for films while her husband used to stay in Nepal running his business. She has one daughter from the marriage - Pratibha Sinha, who is a former Bollywood actress.[12][13] From the late 1990s, the couple and their daughter have been residing in a bunglow in Bandra, Mumbai.[14][15]



  • Filmfare Award for Best Actress — Dhool Ka Phool (1960)
  • Filmfare Award for Best Actress — Bahurani (1964)
  • Filmfare Award for Best Actress — Jahan Ara (1965)
  • Filmfare Award for Best Actress — Himalaya Ki God Mein (1966)[20]


Hindi films

  • Zid (1994) Jai Mehta
  • Radha Ka Sangam (1992) Govinda
  • Khel (1992) Anil Kapoor
  • Dil Tujhko Diya (1987) Kumar Gaurav
  • Babu (film) (1985) Navin Nishchol and Rajesh Khanna
  • Yeh Rishta Na Toote (1985) Rajendra Kumar
  • Aasman (1984) Rajeev Kapoor
  • Beraham (1982) Sanjeev Kumar
  • Harjai (1981) Shammi Kapoor
  • Dhan Daulat (1980) Rajendra Kumar
  • Karamyogi (1977) Raj Kumar
  • Prayeschit (1977) Parikshit Sahni
  • Do Ladkiyan (1977) Sanjeev Kumar
  • Zindagi (1976) Sanjeev Kumar—Sarojini
  • Mazdoor Zindabad (1976) Rajendra Kumar
  • Naseeb (1976) (Guest Appearance)
  • Sunehra Sansar (1975) Rajendra Kumar
  • Archana (1974) Sanjeev Kumar
  • Kora Badan (1974) (Guest Appearance)
  • 36 Ghante (1974) Rajkumar
  • Nek Parveen (1974) Rakesh Pandey
  • Rickshawala (1973) Sujit Kumar
  • Kahani Hum Sab Ki (1973) Vinod Mehra
  • Phir Kab Milogi (1973) Biswajeet
  • Rivaaj (1972) Sanjeev Kumar
  • Lalkaar (1972) Rajendra Kumar
  • Maryada (1971)Rajkumar and Rajesh Khanna
  • Sanjog (1971) Amitabh Bachchan
  • Chahat (1971) Jeetendra
  • Holi Aayee Re (1970) Prakash Thapa
  • Kangan (1970)Sanjeev Kumar
  • Geet (1970)Rajendra Kumar
  • Do Bhai (1970) Jeetendra
  • Paisa Ya Pyar (1970) Biswajeet
  • Mere Huzoor (1969) Rajkumar/Jeetendra
  • Humsaya (1968) Joy Mukherjee
  • Do Kaliyaan (1968) Biswajeet
  • Pyar Ka Sapna (1968) Biswajeet
  • Aankhen (1968) Dharmendra
  • Dillagi (1966) Sanjay Khan
  • Nai Roshni (1967) Biswajeet
  • Night In London (1967) Biswajeet
  • Jaal (1967) Biswajeet
  • Aasra (1966)Biswajeet
  • Tamanna (1966) Biswajeet
  • Apne Huye Paraye (1966) Manoj Kumar
  • Mere Lal (1966) Dev Kumar
  • Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi (1966) Dharmendra
  • Himalaya Ki God Mein (1965) Manoj Kumar........Nominated (Filmfare Best Actress Award)
  • Jab Yaad Kisiki Aati Hai (1965) Dharmendra
  • Neela Akaash (1965) Dharmendra
  • Bahu Beti (1965) Joy Mukherjee
  • Main Suhagan Hoon (1965) Ajit Khan
  • Jahan Ara (1964) Bharat Bhushan..........Nominated (Filmfare Best Actress Award)
  • Suhagan (1964) Guru Dutt
  • Phool Bane Angarey (1963) Rajkumar
  • Pooja Ke Phool (1963) Dharmendra
  • Gumraah (1963) with Sunil Dutt
  • Bahu Rani (1963) Guru Dutt...........Nominated (Filmfare Best Actress Award)
  • Gehra Daag (1963) Rajendra Kumar
  • Hariyali Aur Rasta (1962) Manoj Kumar
  • Anpadh (1962) Dharmendra
  • Bombay Ka Chor (1962) Kishore Kumar
  • Aankh Micholi (1962) Shekhar
  • Gyarah Hazaar Ladkiyan (1962) Bharat Bhushan
  • Dil Tera Diwana (1962) Shammi Kapoor
  • Suhag Sindoor (1961) Manoj Kumar
  • Maya (1961) Dev Anand
  • Dharamputra (1961) Rehman
  • Patang (1960) Rajendra Kumar
  • Main Nashe Mein Hoon (1960) Raj Kapoor
  • Bewaqoof (1960) Kishore Kumar
  • Mitti Mein Sona (1960) Pradeep Kumar
  • Dhool Ka Phool (1959) Ashok Kumar / Rajendra Kumar.......Nominated (Filmfare Best Actress Award)
  • Love Marriage (1959) Dev Anand
  • Duniya Na Mane (1959) Pradeep Kumar
  • Ujala (1959) Shammi Kapoor
  • Devar Bhabhi (1958) Rajendra Kumar
  • Parvarish (1958) Raj Kapoor
  • Phir Subah Hogi (1958) Raj Kapoor
  • Jaalsaz (1959) Kishore Kumar
  • Chandan (1958) Kishore Kumar
  • Detective (1958) Pradeep Kumar
  • Nausherwan-E-Adil (1957) Rajkumar
  • Ek Goan Ki Kahani (1957) Abhi Bhattacharya/Talat Mehmood
  • Apradhi Kaun (1957) Abhi Bhattacharya
  • Lal Batti (1957) Balraj Sahni
  • Naya Zamana (1957) Pradeep Kumar
  • Fashion (1957) Pradeep Kumar
  • Pyaasa (1957) Guru Dutt/Rehman
  • Rangin Raaten (1956) Shammi Kapoor
  • Ek Shola (1956) Pradeep Kumar
  • Paisa Hi Paisa (1956) Kishore Kumar
  • Jhanshi Ki Rani (1956) Sohrab Modi
  • Ratna Manjari (1955) Mahipal
  • Ekadashi (1955) Trilok Kapoor
  • Riyasat (1955) Mahipal
  • Badshah (1954) Pradeep Kumar
  • Hamlet (1954) Pradeep Kumar/Kishore Sahu
  • Suhagan (1952) Guru Dutt

Bengali films

  • Kabita (1977)
  • Shohorer Itikotha (Uttam Kumar )
  • Saathihaara (Uttam Kumar)
  • Abhaya O Srikanta (1961)
  • Kelaghar (1959) (Uttam Kumar)
  • Lookochoori (1958)(Kishore Kumar)
  • Louha Kapat (1958)
  • Bondhu
  • Surer Parashay (1957)
  • Prithibi Amare Chaay (1957)
  • Putrabadhu (1956)
  • Dhuli (1954)
  • Chitrangadha (1954)
  • Jog Biyog (1953)
  • Roshanara (1952)

Nepali films


External links

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