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There was nothing crass or materialistic about her: Saira Banu On Nanda

`I met her very late.We began interacting when my husband worked with her in B R Chopra's Mazdoor in 1982 But we struck an instant rapport. Nanda Baaji-that's what I called her -- was a Capricorn just like my mother. I saw a lot of my mother's beautiful traits in Nanda Baaji. She was gentle softspoken and so unassuming. She would always says, 'When I have to go I want to go without getting in a hospital and going through a lot of pain.' It seems God does listen to good people. She went exactly the way she had hoped she would. She came out of the bathroom at 7 am and collapsed. That was it! When death has to come it should be instant.Not many knew Nanda Baaji well. She had a tightly cordoned set of friends...Jabin, Shakila and Waheeda....Later that group was extended to Helen, Sadhana and Asha Parekh.

Like I said I came to Nanda Baaji's life very late. But the time we spent together was incredibly fruitful. Like all actresses of our generation she was thrilled to finally work with my husband . She told the director B R Chopra Saab that even if it is just one frame she would happily share it with Dilip Saab as this would complete her career. My husband immediately took to her because she was the well-known Marathi actor Master Vinayak's daughter. He said something to her about her father in Marathi and Nanda Baaji was blown away. 'How can he speak such fluent Marathi?' she wondered. Nanda Baaji would come home to be with us. We would sit and chat on my bungalow's terrace. I'd serve her delicacies of shrimp and tikkas and other non-vegetarian stuff that she enjoyed at our home. She was a foodie earlier.
But later on in life she became a frugal eater just nibbling on food.And then eventually she stopped taking dinner altogether. Her beautiful home used to be filled with the chatter of relatives and siblings. Gradually her relatives passed away and she was left with two brothers. I loved her gentle softspoken demeanour. There was nothing crass or materialistic about her. She was happy to be who she was and with whatever she had. She wasn't money-minded at all. As an actress I saw her in two of her films Jab Jab Phool Khile and Choti Bahen.She had a serene quality to her on screen.

The one thing that she did not have and I do is a soul-mate and a life-companion. She was ready to marry Manmohan Desai and then tragedy struck. I don't know what happened. Nanda Baaji used to say, 'Dua karo jab mein jaaoon toh bina kisi taqleef ke.' I also wish the same for Dilip Saab and myself. Jaana toh hum sab ko hai. Just pray that we remain healthy as long as we are here.`


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