Kamini Kaushal

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Kamini Kaushal
Kamini Kaushal in December 2019 (cropped).jpg Kamini Kaushal in December 2019 (cropped).jpg
Kamini Kaushal in December 2019
BornUma Kashyap
(1927-01-16) 16 January 1927 (age 95)
Lahore, Punjab, British India
(now in Punjab, Pakistan)
🏳️ NationalityBritish Indian (1927–1947)
Indian (from 1947)
💼 Occupation
Actress, producer
📆 Years active  1946–present
Notable workNeecha Nagar (1946)
Shaheed (1948)
Nadiya Ke Paar (1948)
Biraj Bahu (1954)
Shaheed (1965)
🏅 AwardsFilmfare Best Actress Award (1956)
Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award (2015)

Kamini Kaushal is a Hindi film and television actress, who is most noted for her roles in films such as Neecha Nagar (1946), which won the 1946 Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) at Cannes Film Festival and Biraj Bahu (1955), which won her the Filmfare Best Actress Award in 1955.[1] She played lead heroine in films from 1946 to 1963, wherein her roles in Do Bhai (1947), Shaheed (1948), Nadiya Ke Paar (1948), Ziddi (1948), Shabnam (1949), Paras (1949), Namoona (1949), Arzoo (1950), Jhanjar (1953), Aabroo (1956), Bade Sarkar (1957), Jailor (1958), Night Club (1958) and Godaan (1963) are considered her career's best performances. She played character roles since 1963, and was critically acclaimed for her performance in Shaheed (1965). She appeared in three films of Rajesh Khanna, namely Do Raaste (1969), Prem Nagar (1974), Maha Chor (1976), in Anhonee (1973) with Sanjeev Kumar and in eight films with Manoj Kumar namely Shaheed, Upkar (1967), Purab Aur Paschim (1970), Shor (1972), Roti Kapda Aur Makaan (1974), Sanyasi (1975), Dus Numbri (1976) and Santosh (1989).

Early life[edit]

Kamini Kaushal was born as Uma Kashyap in Lahore.[2] She was the youngest among two brothers and three sisters. [3] Kamini Kaushal was the daughter of Prof. Shiv Ram Kashyap, Professor of Botany, Punjab University at Lahore, British India (now in Pakistan). Prof. Kashyap is widely regarded as the father of Indian Botany.[4] Her father was a distinguished botanist who discovered six species of plants. She was only seven when her father died on 26 November 1934.[2] She did her B.A. (honours) in English literature from Kinnaird College in Lahore. She got an offer to act in films through Chetan Anand in 1946 for the film Neecha Nagar.

She quoted in an interview, talking about her teenage days: "I had no time to fool. I didn't have any crush, I was busy swimming, riding, skating and doing radio plays on Akashwani, for which I was paid Rupees 10."[3] When her elder sister died in a car accident,[3] leaving behind two daughters, Kaushal decided to marry her brother-in-law, B. S. Sood, in 1948 and she set up home in Bombay where her husband was a chief engineer in the Bombay Port Trust.[2][3] Her elder sister's daughters are Kumkum Somani and Kavita Sahni. Kumkum Somani has written a book for children on Gandhi's philosophy and Kavita Sahni is an artist.[2] Kamini had 3 sons after 1955, from her marriage with B. S. Sood - Rahul, Vidur and Shravan.[3]

In the 1950s, the couple lived in a huge, sprawling, spacious manor-type house "Gateside" in Mazagaon, which was allotted to her husband by BPT.[5]


Kamini had been a stage actress in Delhi during her college days from 1942 to 1945. She worked as a radio child artist with the name "Uma" in Lahore before the Partition, from 1937 to 1940.[6] She said in an interview about whether she wanted to be an actress in her childhood: "I come from a very intellectual family. My dad, S. R. Kashyap, was a professor at Government College, Lahore and the President of the Science Congress. He'd written about 50 books on botany. Growing up, our family concentrated more on knowledge, but he never deterred us from doing anything we wanted as long as it was positive."[7] Though she had no dreams of joining the film industry while being in college, she was a fan of actor Ashok Kumar. Once she said in an interview: "We were to perform for the war relief fund in college. Ashok Kumar and Leela Chitins were the chief guests. After the show we went to meet him. I thought of having some fun. As he stood talking to the students, I pulled his hair from behind."[3]

Kamini Kaushal in 1946 Hindi film Pugree

Chetan Anand gave her the role of the leading heroine in his film Neecha Nagar. This movie was done by her before marriage and released in 1946.[6] She quoted in an interview, when asked about why her name was changed from Uma to Kamini: "Chetan's wife Uma Anand was also part of the film. My name also being Uma, he wanted a different name for me. I asked him to give me a name beginning with 'K' to match with the names of my daughters Kumkum and Kavita."[3] She won an award at the Montreal Film Festival for her performance in her debut film.[8] She quoted in an interview about how she got her debut film: "Ravi Shankar was new, he had not done music for anybody. It was Zohra Segal's debut. Uma Anand (Chetan's wife) was with us in college — we were together. Chetan had been teaching at The Doon School and got to me through my brother.".[2]

After Neecha Nagar, she returned to Lahore, but offers started coming in, hence she used to come for shooting from Lahore. After her sudden marriage in 1947, she settled in Bombay with her husband. She became the first leading heroine to continue working as lead film heroine after her marriage as well. Kamini was one of the first well educated heroines (BA in English) in Hindi cinema.[8] She learnt Bharatnatyam at Mumbai's Sri Rajarajeswari Bharata Natya Kala Mandir, where Guru T. K. Mahalingam Pillai, doyen among nattuvanars taught.[9] Since 1948, Kamini Kaushal worked with all the top leading men of her time, such as Ashok Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Raaj Kumar and Dilip Kumar.

In every film starring her as lead heroine, except when opposite Ashok Kumar, in the period 1947 to 1955, her name used to appear first in the credits before the leading hero's name appeared. Her pairing opposite Dilip Kumar was popular with audiences with box office hits such as Shaheed (1948), Pugree, Nadiya Ke Paar (1949), Shabnam (1949) and Arzoo (1950)).[10] The popularity as an actress increased with Filmistan's Do Bhai (1947), aided by Geeta Roy's impassioned singing of songs such as "Mera sundar sapna", which, incidentally, was shot in a single take.[8] Kamini was paired opposite Dev Anand in his very first success, Bombay Talkies' production Ziddi (1948), a light romance. The pair followed this up with Namoona. Kamini played the third angle to the Dev-Suraiya pair in Shayar. In Raj Kapoor's directorial debut Aag (1948), she did a cameo as one of his three heroines (Nargis and Nigar were the other two), whose relationship with the hero doesn't fructify. She also starred with Raj Kapoor in Jail Yatra.[8]

Kamini Kaushal was the first lead heroine for whom Lata Mangeshkar ever sang for and it was for the film Ziddi in 1948. Kamini quoted in an interview: "Lata sang for me in Ziddi for the first time. That was the first time she sang for the leading lady in a film. Before that, she sang for actresses in supporting roles. Shamshad Begum and Surinder Kaur — whose voices had more bass — used to sing my songs. On the music credits on the record, Lata's name was not mentioned. Instead, it was mentioned that Asha sang the songs — Asha was my screen name (in the film Ziddi). That's why people thought I had sung it.[11] The playback singers - Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar recorded their first duet - "Ye Kaun Aya Re" together in the 1948 film Ziddi.[12]

Her other successful films as lead heroine in films from 1946 to 1963 include Paras (1949), Namoona, Jhanjar, Aabru, Night Club, Jailor, Bade Sarkar, Bada Bhai, Poonam and Godaan. Kamini became a producer and signed on then-matinee idol Ashok Kumar in Poonam and Night Club.[6] She did lighthearted roles in Chalis Baba Ek Chor (1954) and also did serious tragedy genre roles in Aas, Ansoo and Jailor. In the Sohrab Modi-directed Jailor (1958), Kamini gave a goosebump-raising performance as Modi's wife, who is pushed towards adultery by his ruthless tyranny.[8] Trilok Jetley, who adopted Premchand's famous story Godaan on screen, put his film on hold, while Kamini was pregnant with her second child, because he wanted to capitalise on the softness in her voice. Pandit Ravi Shankar composed the score for her first (Neecha Nagar in 1946) and last (Godaan in 1963) films as a heroine.[8]

Portrait of Kamini Kaushal in 1949

In 1965, she moved to playing character roles with a film called Shaheed. She made the transition from playing leading heroine roles to character roles very easily. Her performances were appreciated in Waris, Vishwas, Yakeen, Aadmi Aur Insaan, Uphaar, Qaid (film), Bhanwar, Tangewala and Heeralaal Pannalaal (1978 film). As a character artist she was a fixture in seven Manoj Kumar films - Shaheed (1965 film), Upkar, Purab Aur Paschim, Sanyasi, Shor, Roti Kapda Aur Makaan, Dus Numbari and Santosh (1989). Kaushal has had a long stint in films with releases till 2014.[13] She stunned audiences by playing a mercenary vamp with aplomb in the film Anhonee (1973).[8] Kamini Kaushal played mother to Rajesh Khanna in Prem Nagar in 1974, and in Maha Chor in 1976, and as sister in law to Khanna in Do Raaste.

Dilip Kumar, in his biography, has admitted his attraction to her while they acted in films together, but Kamini rejected his proposal as she was already married to her elder sister's widower and was taking care of her elder sister's kids.[14] Dilip said that she was his first love.[15][16] Kamini quoted in an interview on this: "We were both shattered. We were very happy with each other. We shared a great rapport. But what to do? That's life. I can't dump people and say 'Enough now, I'm going!' I had taken on the girls. I wouldn't be able to show my face to my sister. My husband, a fine human being, understood why it happened. Everyone falls in love."[3]

She made a popular puppet show broadcast on the national channel at the time, "Doordarshan", which ran for a year (1989 to 1991), and was the first such children's series in Hindi.[17] She stepped into writing children's stories. Her stories used to be published in the children's magazine Paraag, featuring the antics of 'Bunty', and 'Chotbhai' and 'Motabhai' – who were all loosely based on her own son and his cousin contemporaries. She dabbled in television doing serials such as Chand Sitare on Doordarshan. In 1986, Kaushal made an animation film, Meri Pari.

She appeared in "The Jewel in the Crown" (1984), a popular British television serial, as Aunt Shalini.[2]

Kaushal worked in the highly popular serial Shanno Ki Shaadi, on STAR Plus.[18][19] She played Bebe, the grandmother of Shanno, the main protagonist played by Divya Dutta. She also acted in Sri Adhikari Brothers' TV Serial Waqt Ki Raftaar (DD National).

She said in an interview: "I, along with only few Indian heroines like Saroja Devi, Bhanumathi Ramakrishna, Sowcar Janaki, Mala Sinha, Moushumi Chatterjee, Padmini and Sharmila Tagore were the few who got married early and had success in the film industry even after our marriages as well as led a happy married life."


  • 1956: Filmfare Best Actress Award: Biraj Bahu
  • 1967: BFJA Best Supporting Actress Award: Shaheed
  • 2011: Kalakar Awards: Lifetime Achievement
  • 2013: Kalpana Chawla Excellence Award[20]
  • 2015: Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award[21]
  • 2015: BBC's 100 Women.[22]
  • 2020:Star Screen Awards: Best Supporting Actress : Kabir Singh
  • 2020: Filmfare Award: Best Supporting Actress : Kabir Singh (Nominated)


Kamini Kaushal in 1950 Hindi film Arzoo
Films as actor
Year Title Role Notes
1946 Neecha Nagar Rupa
1947 Jail Yatra
Do Bhai
1948 Aag Ms. Nirmala
Shaheed Sheela
Nadiya Ke Paar Phulwa
1949 Shair Bina
Shabnam Shanti
1950 Arzoo Kamini
1951 Bikhre Moti
1952 Poonam
1953 Shahenshah Princess Noor
Raja Ratan
Aas Aasha
1954 Chalis Baba Ek Chor
Biraj Bahu Biraj Chakravarty
Radha Krishna
1956 Aabru
1957 Bade Sarkar Rashmi
Bada Bhai
1958 Night Club
Jailor Kamal
Great Show of India
1959 Bank Manager
1963 Go Daan Jhuniya
1965 Shaheed Mrs. Kishan Singh
Janam Janam Ke Saathi
Bheegi Raat Pushpa
1967 Upkaar Bharat's Mother
1968 Aanchal Ke Phool Maya
1969 Waris Rukmani
Meri Bhabhi
Ek Shriman Ek Shrimati Rama
Do Raaste Madhavi Gupta
Beti mother
1970 Yaadgaar Bhanu's Mother
Purab Aur Paschim Bharat's Mother
Ishq Par Zor Nahin
Heer Raanjha
1971 Uphaar
Bhikhre Moti
1972 Tangewala
Shor Shankar's Mother
Haar Jeet
1973 Ek Mutthi Aasmaan
1974 Roti Kapda Aur Makaan Bharat's Mother
Prem Nagar
1975 Do Jhoot
Sanyasi Champa's Mother
Apne Rang Hazaar
1976 Nehle Pe Dehla
Maha Chor
Dus Numbri Arjun's Mother
1977 Chandi Sona
1978 Swarg Narak Vinod's mother
Rahu Ketu
Heeralal Pannalal
Dil Aur Deewar
1979 Bagula Bhagat
1980 Takkar
Do Shatru
1987 Jalwa
Gulami Ki Zanjeerain
1989 Santosh
1991 Deshwasi
1992 Hamshakal Sunil's mother
2003 Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega
Chori Chori Beeji
2007 Laaga Chunari Mein Daag
2013 Chennai Express Rahul's Grandmother
2019 Kabir Singh Kabir's Grandmother


  • Braham S. Sood; B. K. Karanjia (2000). An alien in Bollywood: an autobiography (of the spouse of Kamini Kaushal). UBS Publishers' Distributors. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png


  1. Biraj Bahu awards, Internet Movie Database
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "Kamaini Kaushal". Telegraph. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 "Entertainment » Kamini Kaushal". Filmfare. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  4. "College Botany" by Ganguli, das and Dutta (Calcutta 1972)
  5. Stars At Home – Kamini Kaushal, "cineplot.com"
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Entertainment » Kamini Kaushal". Rediff. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 July 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2015. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 "Entertainment » Kamini Kaushal". Rediff. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  9. "Life dedicated to dance". The Hindu. 3 January 2003. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2010. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  10. "Hindi cinema still has a place for the Bimal Roy kind of films", Rediff.com
  11. http://www.rediff.com/movies/report/kamini-kaushal-on-lata-mangeshkar/20090922.htm
  12. "Lata, Dev Anand recall Kishore Kumar on his birth anniversary". Realbollywood.com. 2011-08-04. Archived from the original on 23 September 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-22. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  13. idiva.com/news-love--dating/rules-of-arranged-dating-before-marriage/4654 2003
  14. Excerpts from Dilip Kumar's biography, Dilip Kumar: The Star Legend of Indian Cinema by Bunny Reuben Archived 27 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine, The Tribune, 21 December 2003.
  15. Kamini Kaushal, legend, Rediff.com, 18 February 2003.
  16. Kamini Kaushal: Kal Aaj Aur Kal, Rediff.com, 11 October 2007.
  17. http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/kamini-kaushal-bollywood-dame/
  18. http://www.santabanta.com/bollywood/19604/raj-kapoor-was-a-prankster-kamini-kaushal/
  19. Kamini Kaushal 2008 Interview Archived 12 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine "nowrunning.com."
  20. "Veteran actress Kamini Kaushal to receive Kalpana Chawla Excellence Award". The Indian Express. 24 September 2013.
  21. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/hindi/bollywood/60th-Britannia-Filmfare-Awards/liveblog/45979909.cms
  22. "BBC 100 Women 2015: Who is on the list?". BBC News. 17 November 2015. Retrieved 3 August 2019.

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