Veteran actress Nimmi passed away at 87 last evening. The actress was known for her films with Raj Kapoor and Sunil Dutt in 1950s and 60s. She was at her Mumbai residence in her last moments, and her health had been an issue for a while, her niece revealed to a daily.
Bollywood mourned the loss of the star on Twitter, her last rites will be performed today afternoon. Her roles remain some of the most popular of her time, setting a precedence for all the actresses who followed her.
The story behind Nawab Banoo
Nimmi, as she is popularly known, was actually christened Nawab Banoo, born on February 18, 1933. Nawab Banoo was born in Agra to Wahidan who was a courtesan, actress and singer, and Abdul Hakim who served as a military contractor. Her grandfather gave her the name Nawab and her grandmother added Banoo.
Banoo had memories from her visit to Bombay ad her mother was well-connected to Mehboob Khan. However, her mother passed away suddenly. Not in much contact with her father was in Meerut and had his own family, she was sent to live with her maternal grandmother in Abottabad in Rawalpindi. The partition in 1947, meant that Banoo and her grandmother had to move to India, as Abottabad fell under Pakistan. They went to live with Jyoti her grandmother's other daughter in Mumbai. Jyoti was an actress herself and married to G.M. Durrani who was a popular playback singer.
In 1948, Mehboob Khan who was closely connected to her mother in the 1930s, invited Banoo to the sets Andaz at Central Studios, to observe the filmmaking process. It was during this learning opportunity that Banoo would meet Raj Kapoor who was filming for Andaz at the time.
From Nawab Banoo to Nimmi
On the sets of Andaz, Raj Kapoor met young Nimmi for the first time. Raj Kapoor was also working on Barsaat (1949), in which Nargis was already cast as the first lead. There was still the role of a young girl in the film that needed an actor. He was impressed with Banoo's innocence and shy behaviour that he cast her opposite Prem Nath.
In Barsaat, her first film Banoo played the role of a young innocent country shepherdess in love with a cold-hearted city man. The film Barsaat went to on to create huge waves in the industry following its release in 1949. Acting alongside Bollywood heavyweights like Raj Kapoor and Nargis, she held her own. Incidentally, it was Raj Kapoor who renamed Nawab Banoo as Nimmi. The name stuck.
Barsaat indeed brought a shower of praise and adulation to Nimmi, who was flooded with acting offers. It was her unique acting ability and skilled craft that got her noticed. She went on to work with big stars like Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar, with more successes through Deedar (1951) and Daag (1952). She also shared screen space with Nargis, Geeta Bali, Suraiya and Madhubala.
Nimmi went beyond acting and sang a couple of songs for her films herself. She was not afraid to take on controversial roles either, like that of a prostitute in Char Dil Char Rahen (1959). Nimmi gave up acting when she got married in 1965 to Ali Raza, who was a scriptwriter. The two didn't have biological children, but they adopted her sister's son, who lives in London.
Bollywood pays Nimmi a tribute
Some artists made Bollywood the industry it is today, Nimmi surely is one of them.