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A grande dame passes

Rita Bhaduri, a household name for her roles in television serials and the Hindi film industry, died in Mumbai at the age of 62 while being treated at Mumbai’s Sujay Hospital in Vile Parle for a kidney ailment.

As a film critic and freelance writer for more than 20 years, I had the opportunity to meet her several times at the International Film Festivals of India in New Delhi and Goa. She once said, “I love attending film festivals. I always try to save money to be here.”

Although for avid TV watchers she is a familiar face on the small screen, she has acted in an impressive total of 71 feature films, initially appearing as a supporting actress in various Hindi films from the 1970s to 1990s. Notable among her roles were those in the Rajshri production Sawan Ko Aane Do (1979) and Raja (1995), for which she received a Filmfare Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She had a supporting role as Julie’s best friend in the hit film Julie (1975) and the popular song ‘Ye ratien nayi purani’ was picturised on her.

Zarina Wahab and Rita Bhaduri were batchmates at the Film and Television Institute (FTII) of Pune, graduating in 1973. Though she did not have the looks to be a leading lady, Rita was quite optimistic in her professional film and acting career. She always chose and read her scripts patiently, discussed her role with directors and never rushed into anything.

Speaking with the weight of her experiences, she was not in favour of aspirants merely going through diploma courses and expecting to be a success. She always said that talent or ability is a prerequisite for a career in acting. Talent can only be polished through training or diploma courses, she said.
Of the 30 television serials in which she acted, her most memorable roles were in Sarabhai vs Sarabhai, Kumkum and Chhoti Bahu, whose star actress Rubina Dilaik paid tribute after her death saying, “We have lost the most loving and beautiful person.” When asked about her popularity in serials, she always said that if a serial or film became a hit, it was not due to one artiste but their teamwork, and credit should go to all. But even her modest nature cannot hide the fact that she had a unique ability of being a ‘one-take actress’. Also, she was known for always reaching the studio in time during her shoots and exuded confidence during her performance.

Some of her popular Hindi films were Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon, Dil Vil Pyar Vyar, Kya Kehna, Hote Hote Pyar Ho Gaya, Jaane Jigar, Hero No 1, Khoon Ki Pyas, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Beta, Phoolan Devi, Chalti Ka Naam Zindagi and Udhaar ka Sindoor, among others.
Tributes were paid to her by actor Anil Kapoor, who acted with her in Ghar Ho to Aisa, Beta and Viraasat, and by Manoj Bajpayee, who said that she will be remembered as great human being, loving and sincere.

Her last serial was Nimki Mukhia, in which she played a grandmother.

This team, more than others in the industry, will miss their ‘Dadi’ after her sudden, untimely death.