Mystery surrounds the death of yesteryear actor Nalini Jaywant who, neighbours say, passed away three days ago in tragically lonely circumstances at her bungalow in Chembur. Her relatives and those she had once worked with in the film industry were all unaware of the passing of the star who scaled the heights of fame in the 1940s and 50s but had turned into a complete recluse for the last many years.
Jaywant’s neighbour Ajay Kapoor told TOI that the security and domestic staff in the colony saw the body being taken away in an ambulance on Tuesday. However, by the time we got to know about it, it was all over, he said. “We heard from our staff that a man, who claimed to be a distant relative, came and took the body away. The house is locked and in complete darkness for the past three days, the servants have gone, and Nalinijis pet dogs are on the streets. We neighbours have been taking care of them,” Kapoor said.
While the Chembur ward office said it could only confirm on Monday whether it had issued a death certificate for Jaywant, inquiries with the actress’s relatives, too, drew a blank. “Her father was my cousin but we had lost touch for years,” said veteran theatre person Vijaya Mehta.
Actress Tanuja, whose mother Shobhana Samarth was Jaywant’s first cousin, was shocked to hear the news. So was Dev Anand with whom Jaywant did hit films like Munimji and Kala Pani with evergreen songs like ‘Jeevan ke safar mein rahi’ and ‘Nazar laagi raja tore bangle par’.
Yogi Nigam, another neighbour of Jaywant, said she had stopped meeting people altogether. “Many years earlier, we would visit each other’s houses but after her husband’s death a few years ago, she withdrew completely from society,” he said. “I don’t think anyone ever came to look her up. I happened to catch sight of her a few days earlier and noticed that she had hurt her leg. Her maid said she had had a fall. I asked her if I could do anything, send the doctor to her house. But she was never forthcoming so one could do much for her,”said Nigam.
Jaywant, who worked with the biggest names in the film industry from Dev Anand to Ashok Kumar and Dilip Kumar, preceded the legendary actresses of the 1950s like Nutan, Meena Kumari, Madhubala, Waheeda Rehman, Vyjayanthimala by a few years. For film buffs and connoisseurs she will always remain a big marquee name of cinema’s golden era.