Sunday, January 19, 2014


From mid 30's to mid 80's Leela Chitnis was an active actress in Bollywood who achieved stardom and was one of the few ladies who were well educated to join films in the early period.
She was born in Dharwad,Karnataka on 9 September 1909 as the daughter of an English Professor. Her father had  adhered to Brahma Samaj, a religious movement which rejects caste system.
She was married to a much older person  at an early age of 15 or 16 and her husband, Dr.Gajanan Yaswant Chitnis was associated with a Marathi theatre Company called Natya Manwantar.
She became the mother of four children very soon but had to get divorced when she was still young.She acted in dramas and worked with her own film group to look after her children.Initially she worked in films as an extra artist and accepted insignificant small  roles.She continued her studies and became a graduate which helped her to be hired by Bombay Talkies which  hired graduates only.She worked with Prabhat pictures,Ranjit movietone and Bombay Talkies and  acted in several hit films of 30's and 40's in main female roles.She could establish as a good actress and formed a nice partnership with Ashok Kumar.Ashok Kumar was of the opinion that he also benefited by watching the acting skill and eye expressions of Leela Chitnis which was very much impressive.
Leela Chitnis  was loved by the audience and because of her beauty and popularity, she was selected  as  the first advertisement  model of 'Lux' in India.
Some of her earlier films include 'Chhaya' in which she acted in the title role  as 'Chhaya', the daughter of a judge.The story was about a bank employee who stole money from the bank.
In the film 'Jailor(1938) she acted as the wife of the Jailor whose role was handled by Sohrab Modi.
In the big budget film 'Saint Tulasidas'(1939) which was directed by Jayant Desai who also  produced the film under Jayant movietone, she played the heroine role as 'Ratnavali.'
In the 1940 film 'Azad' made by Bombay Talkies Ashok Kumar and Leela Chitnis were the main pair.
Ashok Kumar and Leela paired  in the 1941 film 'Jhoola' which was made by Bombay Talkies and directed by Gyan Mukherjee.
In the 1942 film 'Kisise Na Kahna' which was directed by Keshavrao Daate she acted opposite Keshavrao Daate.
From the 50's she accepted character roles  and mother roles.In the 1951 film 'Awaara' directed by Raj Kapoor, she acted as the character 'Leela Raghunath'.
In the Dilip Kumar-Madhubala film 'Sangdil' (52) she acted as 'Dhayi Maa'.
She performed as a blind beggar in the Dharmendra-Meena Kumari film 'Phool aur Pathar'.
In the crime thriller 'Jeevan Mrityu' she played the role of Dharmendra's mother.
In many films she  depicted the mother roles as a miserable woman, going through all hardships and struggling to look after her poor family and kids.
During the 80's she emigrated to the U.S. to join her children who were living there.She died on 14 July 2008 in a nursing home at Danbury.
Selected Filmography
Raja Gopichand
Saint Tulasidas
Ghar Ki Rani

Char Aankhen
Ghar Ghar ki Kahani
Naya Ghar
Basant Bahar
Nata Daur
Post Box.999
Dhool Ka Phool
Hum Hindustani
Kanch Ki Gudiya
Nag Devta
Asli Naqli
Pooja Ka Phool
Aap Ki Parchaiyan
Phool aur Pathar
Gunahon Ka Devta
Dulhan Ek Raat Ki
Man Ki Aankhen
Jeevan Mrityu
Bhai Bhai
Satyan Shivam Sundaram
Dil Tujhko Diya

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