Mala Sinha

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Mala Sinha
Mala-Sinha (cropped).jpg File:Mala-Sinha (cropped).jpg
Sinha in 2013
BornAlda Sinha
(1936-11-11) 11 November 1936 (age 85) [1]
Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India
(present-day Kolkata, West Bengal, India)
🏳️ NationalityIndian
💼 Occupation
📆 Years active  1952–1994
👩 Spouse(s)
Chidambaram Prasad Lohani (m. 1966)
👶 ChildrenPratibha Sinha
👴 👵 Parent(s)Albert Sinha

Alda Sinha (born 11 November 1936)[1] better known by her stage name Mala Sinha is a former Indian actress who has worked in Hindi, Bengali and Nepali films. Initially starting her career with regional cinema, she went on to become a top leading actress in Hindi Cinema in the late 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. In a career spanning four decades, Sinha rose to prominence with Guru Dutt's Pyaasa (1957) and Yash Chopra's Dhool Ka Phool (1959). Later, she starred in over hundred film productions including Phir Subah Hogi (1958), Hariyali Aur Rasta, Anpadh (both 1962), Dil Tera Deewana (1962), Gumrah, Bahurani (both 1963), Jahan Ara (1964), Himalay Ki God Mein (1965), Ankhen, Do Kaliyaan (both 1968) and Maryada (1971) .[2] She was known as the "daring diva" and "torch bearer of women's cinema" for essaying strong female centric and unconventional roles in a range of movies considered ahead of her times.[3][4] Having received multiple awards and nominations, she was given the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018.

Sinha was constantly paired in roles opposite Uttam Kumar, Dev Anand, Dharmendra, Raaj Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Biswajit, Kishore Kumar, Manoj Kumar and Rajesh Khanna. She was the highest-paid actress from 1958–65 with Vyjanthimala, and second with Vyjanthimala from 1966–67, and then shared the second spot with Sharmila Tagore from 1968–1971, and third position with Sadhana and Nanda in 1972-73.[5]

Early life[edit]

Mala Sinha was born to Christian Nepali parents after they immigrated to West Bengal, India from the Nepalese plains. Her father's name was Albert Sinha.

Mala's initial name was Alda and her friends at school in Calcutta (now Kolkata) used to tease her by calling her Dalda (a brand of vegetable oil), so she changed her name to Baby Nazma on getting her first assignment as a child artiste. Later on, as an adult actor, she changed her name to Mala Sinha.[6][6][7] As a child, she learnt dancing and singing. Although she was an approved singer of All India Radio, she has never done playback singing in films. As a singer, she has done stage shows in many languages from 1947 to 1975.


Mala Sinha started her career as child artist in Bengali films – Jai Vaishno Devi followed by Shri Krishan Leela, Jog Biyog and Dhooli. Noted Bengali director Ardhendu Bose saw her acting in a school play and took permission from her father to cast her as a heroine in his Bengali film Roshanara (1952), her cinematic debut.

After acting in a couple of films in Calcutta, Mala Sinha went to Bombay for a Bengali film. There she met Geeta Bali, a noted Bollywood actress, who was charmed by her and introduced her to director Kidar Sharma. Sharma cast her as a heroine in his Rangeen Ratein. Her first Hindi film was Badshah opposite Pradeep Kumar, then came Ekadashi, a mythological film. Both films did not do well, but her lead role in Kishore Sahu's Hamlet, paired opposite Pradeep Kumar, fetched her rave reviews in spite of it failing at the box office. Films such as Lai Batti (actor Balraj Sahni's only directorial venture), Nausherwan-E-Adil where she starred as the fair maiden Marcia in Sohrab Modi's romance about forbidden love and Phir Subah Hogi, which was director Ramesh Saigal's adaptation of Dosteovsky's Crime and Punishment established Mala Sinha's reputation as a versatile actress who took the maximum career risks by accepting unconventional roles.

She used to sing for All India Radio; she was not allowed to sing playback (even for herself) in the movies with the lone exception being 1972's Lalkar.[8] In the 1950s, she had string of hits opposite Pradeep Kumar such as Fashion (1957), Detective (1958) and Duniya Na Mane (1959). The films she did with Pradeep Kumar were men-oriented. In 1957, noted Bollywood actor and director Guru Dutt cast Mala Sinha in his film Pyaasa (1957) in a role originally intended for Madhubala. Mala Sinha performed in the relatively unsympathetic part of an ambitious woman who chooses to marry a rich man (played by actor Rehman) and have a loveless marriage, rather than a poor, unsuccessful poet; her impoverished lover (played by Guru Dutt) whom she ditches. Pyaasa remains to this day a classic in the history of Indian cinema and a turning point for Sinha.

After Pyaasa, her major successes were Phir Subah Hogi (1958) and Yash Chopra's directorial debut Dhool Ka Phool, (1959) that elevated her into a major dramatic star.[9] She was part of many successful movies from 1958 to the early '60s such as Parvarish (1958), Ujala, Main Nashe Main Hoon, Duniya Na Mane, Love Marriage (1959), Bewaqoof (1960), Maya (1961), Hariyali Aur Rasta, Dil Tera Deewana (1962), Anpadh and Bombay Ka Chor (1962).

She consistently did lead roles in Bengali films throughout 1950's to 1970's. Her performance in films like Lookochoori (1958) opposite Kishore Kumar and Kelaghar (1959),Saathihaara and Shohorer Itikotha.

Critics[who?] believe her career's best performances were in Bahurani (1963), Gumrah, Gehra Daag, Apne Huye Paraye, Nayi Roshni and Jahan Ara.[10] Apart from pairing with Pradeep Kumar, her pairings opposite Raaj Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Biswajit and Manoj Kumar in woman-oriented films were appreciated by audiences, with her work opposite Biswajit being the most popular. With Raaj Kumar, she gave box office hits like Phool Bane Angaare, Maryada and Karmayogi and opposite Manoj Kumar, gave commercial successes like Hariyali Aur Rasta, Apne Huye Paraye and Himalaya Ki God Mein. The hits with Rajendra Kumar were Devar Bhabhi, Dhool Ka Phool, Patang, Geet and Lalkar.

With Biswajit, her popular movies include Aasra, Night in London, Do Kaliyaan, Tamanna, Nai Roshni and critically acclaimed films Pyar Ka Sapna, Paisa Ya Pyaar, Jaal and Phir Kab Milogi. She did ten films with Biswajit. In 2007, they won the Star Screen Lifetime Achievement Award, calling them on stage together giving due respect to their popularity as a pair who have tasted box office success.[11]

In her successful 1960s and 1970s roles, she was cast opposite her seniors like Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Kishore Kumar and Pradeep Kumar, and the emerging stars from late 1950s like Shammi Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar and Raaj Kumar. She worked with many newcomers of her era including Manoj Kumar, Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna, Sunil Dutt, Sanjay Khan, Jeetendra and Amitabh Bachchan. Her character's power was as much as the heroes and most of the time her roles were more powerful than the hero. In most of her films from the 1960s, she got first billing in the credits, even before the heroes, with the exceptions being those with Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Pradeep Kumar and Kishore Kumar. Her career's most commercially success film was Maryada, opposite Rajesh Khanna released in 1971.

In 1966, Mala Sinha went to Nepal to act in a Nepali film called Maitighar when the Nepali film industry was still in its infancy. This was the only Nepali film she did in her career. The hero was an estate owner called Chidambar Prasad Lohani.[12]

Soon after, she married C. P. Lohani with the blessings of her parents. From the beginning, theirs was a long-distance marriage with Lohani based in Kathmandu to look after his business and Mala Sinha living in Bombay with their daughter Pratibha. She continued acting after her marriage.[2]

She has been a heroine in many Bengali films. In Bengali films, she has acted with Uttam Kumar and Kishore Kumar. Her last Bengali work as a female lead was Kabita (1977) which featured Ranjit Mullick and Kamal Hassan; it was a super-hit at the box office. She is noted for her strong women-oriented roles in films such as Dhool Ka Phool, Suhag Sindoor,Anpadh, Phir Subah Hogi, Hariyali Aur Rasta, Bahurani, Aasra, Do Kaliyaan, Gumrah, Ankhen, Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi, Himalay Ki God Mein, Do Kaliyaan, Holi Aayi Re, Nai Roshni, Mere Huzoor, Kangan, Archana, Maryada amongst others.

Of her repertoire, she said in 2001, she was rather partial to Jahan Ara (1964), a historical movie that Meena Kumari passed on to her:

"Meena-ji turned down the role saying that she would not look the part whereas I would. Given my ignorance of Urdu, I was rather sceptical, but Meena-ji was convinced that I could do justice to the role. Playing Mumtaz Mahal's eldest daughter entailed gruelling Urdu classes and learning royal tehzeeb. It was hot on the grand sets erected at Ranjit Studio and the film had Madan Mohan's haunting music. It was a film replete with lyrical moments."[2]

From 1974, she cut down on her assignments as the lead actress in Hindi films. She accepted strong character roles in films like 36 Ghante (1974), Zindagi (1976), Karmayogi (1978), Be-Reham (1980), Harjaee (1981), Yeh Rishta Na Tootay, Babu (film) and Khel, which were popular.

In the early 1990s Madhuri Dixit was promoted as the "new Mala Sinha" in magazines. But, after 1994, she completely withdrew from the industry and has given very few public appearances. In Dhool Ka Phool and B.R. Chopra's Gumrah, she played the first unwed mother and adulterous wife respectively in Hindi cinema. As she grew older, she gracefully moved on to doing character roles that befitted her age. She was last seen in Zid (1994).[13] Though Mala evinced as much interest in her daughter Pratibha's career as her father did in her career, she was unable to achieve the same success for her daughter.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Mala Sinha with her husband Chidambar Prasad Lohani in the movie Maitighar

Mala Sinha was born to Nepali parents after they immigrated to West Bengal, India from the Nepalese plains. Sinha married Nepali actor Chidambar Prasad Lohani of Kumaoni Brahmin ethnicity in 1966. The couple met when they worked together in the Nepali film Maitighar (1966). Lohani had an estate agency business. After her marriage, she used to come and stay in Mumbai to shoot films while her husband stayed in Nepal running his business. She has one daughter from the marriage: Pratibha Sinha, who is a former Bollywood actress.[15][16] From the late 1990s, the couple and their daughter have been residing in a bungalow in Bandra, Mumbai.[17][18] Her mother lived in her house till her death in April 2017. Her daughter takes care of stray dogs and cats at Mala Sinha's home.[19]


Mala Sinha in 2012 at the press conference of 'Dadsaheb Phalke Jayanti Awards'
  • 1965 - BFJA Award for Best Actress  — Jahan Ara [20]
  • 1967 - BFJA Award for Best Actress  — Himalay Ki God Mein[21]
  • 2004 - Sikkim Samman Award by Government of Sikkim[22]
  • 2005 - Felicitation by Government of Nepal[23]
  • 2007 - Star Screen Lifetime Achievement Award[24]
  • 2013 - Kelvinator GR8! Women Awards: Lifetime Achievement Award[25]
  • 2018 - Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award[26]


  • Filmfare Award for Best Actress — Dhool Ka Phool (1960)
  • Filmfare Award for Best Actress — Bahurani (1964)
  • Filmfare Award for Best Actress — Jahan Ara (1965)
  • Filmfare Award for Best Actress — Himalay Ki God Mein (1966)[27]


Hindi films[edit]

Film Year Role Co-star Notes
Zid 1994 Daadimaa Jai Mehta
Radha Ka Sangam 1992 Thakurain Govinda
Khel 1992 Sulakshna Devi Anil Kapoor
Waqt Ka Sikandar 1990 Rajendra Kumar
Dil Tujhko Diya 1987 Savitri Kumar Gaurav
Babu (film) 1985 Pinky's mother Navin Nishchal
Yeh Rishta Na Toote 1985 Madhu Rajendra Kumar
Aasman 1984 Rajeev Kapoor
Nek Parveen 1982 Rakesh Pandey/Satish Kaul
Harjai 1981 Sharda Nath Shammi Kapoor
Naseeb 1981 (Guest Appearance)
Beraham 1980 Maya Sanjeev Kumar
Dhan Daulat 1980 Vasudha Rajendra Kumar
Karamyogi 1978 Durga Raaj Kumar
Sone Ka Dil Lohe Ke Haath 1978 Maa Rajendra Kumar
Prayashchit 1977 Ajay Sahni (Parikshit Sahni)
Do Ladkiyan 1976 Sanjeev Kumar
Zindagi 1976 Sarojini Sanjeev Kumar
Mazdoor Zindabaad 1976 Sita Singh Rajendra Kumar
Sunehra Sansar 1975 Laxmi Rajendra Kumar
Archana 1974 Archana Sanjeev Kumar
Kora Badan 1974 (Guest Appearance)
36 Ghante 1974 Deepa Roy Raaj Kumar
Phir Kab Milogi 1974 Sapna Seth/ Paro Biswajeet
Rickshawala 1973 Sujit Kumar
Kahani Hum Sab Ki 1973 Sandhya Vinod Mehra
Rivaaj 1972 Lakshmi Sanjeev Kumar
Lalkaar 1972 Usha Choudhury Rajendra Kumar
Sanjog 1972 Asha Devi Amitabh Bachchan
Maryada 1971 Lakshmi/ Lalita Rajkumar/Rajesh Khanna
Chaahat 1971 Geeta Biswajeet
Holi Ayee Re 1970 Suhagi/ Hemlata Prakash Thapa
Kangan 1970 Shanta Sanjeev Kumar
Geet 1970 Kamla Rajendra Kumar
Do Bhai 1969 Sandhya Jeetendra
Paisa Ya Pyaar 1969 Shanti Biswajeet
Pyar Ka Sapna 1969 Sudha/ Sushma Biswajeet
Tamanna 1969 Biswajeet
Mere Huzoor 1968 Sultanat Rajkumar/Jeetendra
Humsaya 1968 Sin Tan Joy Mukherjee
Do Kaliyaan 1968 Kiran Biswajeet
Ankhen 1968 Meenakshi Mehta Dharmendra
Nai Roshni 1967 Rekha Biswajeet
Night in London 1967 Renu Sinha/ Princess Vijay Nagar Biswajeet
Jaal 1967 Sheela Biswajeet
Jab Yaad Kisi Ki Aati Hai 1967 Roopa Dharmendra
Aasra 1966 Shobha Biswajeet
Dillagi 1966 Seema Sanjay Khan
Mere Lal 1966 Dev Kumar
Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi 1966 Amita Sinha Dharmendra/Rehman
Himalay Ki God Mein 1965 Phulwa Manoj Kumar Nominated: Filmfare Best Actress Award
Neela Aakash 1965 Neela Dharmendra
Bahu Beti 1965 Shanta Joy Mukherjee
Main Suhagan Hoon 1964 Shanti Ajit Khan
Jahan Ara 1964 Jahan Ara Bharat Bhushan Nominated: Filmfare Best Actress Award
Apne Huye Paraye 1964 Rekha Manoj Kumar
Suhagan 1964 Sharda Dubey Guru Dutt
Pooja Ke Phool 1964 Shanti Rai Dharmendra
Phool Bane Angaarey 1963 Usha Raajkumar
Gumraah 1963 Meena Sunil Dutt/ Ashok Kumar
Bahu Rani 1963 Padma Guru Dutt Nominated: Filmfare Best Actress Award
Gehra Daag 1963 Shobha Rajendra Kumar
Hariyali Aur Rasta 1962 Shibhna/ Kamla Manoj Kumar
Anpadh 1962 Lajwanti Dharmendra
Bombay Ka Chor 1962 Kishore Kumar
Aankh Micholi 1962 Mala/ Nayantara Shekhar
Gyara Hazar Ladkian 1962 Asha Bharat Bhushan
Dil Tera Diwana 1962 Meena Shammi Kapoor
Suhag Sindoor 1961 Ratna/ Chanda Manoj Kumar
Maya 1961 Shyama Dev Anand
Dharamputra 1961 Husn Bano Rehman
Patang 1960 Shanti Rajendra Kumar
Bewaqoof 1960 Mala Kishore Kumar
Mitti Mein Sona 1960 Pradeep Kumar
Dhool Ka Phool 1959 Meena Khosla Ashok Kumar / Rajendra Kumar Nominated: Filmfare Best Actress Award
Love Marriage 1959 Geeta Dev Anand
Main Nashe Mein Hoon 1959 Shanta Raj Kapoor
Duniya Na Mane 1959 Geeta Pradeep Kumar
Jaalsaz 1959 Kishore Kumar
Ujala 1959 Shammi Kapoor
Devar Bhabhi 1958 Rajendra Kumar
Parvarish 1958 Asha H.Singh Raj Kapoor
Phir Subah Hogi 1958 Sohni Raj Kapoor
Chandan 1958 Kishore Kumar
Detective 1958 Mashin Loonpe Pradeep Kumar
Nausherwan-E-Adil 1957 Marcia Raajkumar
Ek Gaon Ki Kahani 1957 Jaya Abhi Bhattacharya/Talat Mehmood
Apradhi Kaun? 1957 Shobha Abhi Bhattacharya
Laal Batti 1957 Balraj Sahni
Naya Zamana 1957 Pradeep Kumar
Fashion 1957 Pradeep Kumar
Pyaasa 1957 Meena Guru Dutt/Rehman
Rangin Raaten 1956 Mala Shammi Kapoor
Ek Shola 1956 Pradeep Kumar
Paisa Hi Paisa 1956 Mala Kishore Kumar
Jaldeep 1956 Ashok Sharma
Ratna Manjari 1955 Mahipal
Ekadashi 1955 Trilok Kapoor
Riyasat 1955 Mahipal
Badshah 1954 Pradeep Kumar
Hamlet 1954 Ophelia Kishore Sahu

Bengali films[edit]

Out of 22 bengali films acted by Mala Sinha, 7 films are paired opposite Mahanayak Uttam Kumar.

Film's Name Year Lead Actor
Kulangaar 2000 Prosenjit Chatterjee
Kabita 1977 Ranjit Mallick
Dampati 1976 Ranjit Mallick
Abhaya O Srikanta 1965 Basanta Chowdhury
Saathihaara 1961 Uttam Kumar
Rai Bahadur 1961 Pradeep Kumar
Shohorer Itikotha 1960 Uttam Kumar
Khelaghar 1959 Uttam Kumar
Chhabi 1959 Ashish Kumar
Lookochoori 1958 Kishore Kumar
Louha Kapat 1958 Nirmal Kumar
Bondhu 1958 Uttam Kumar
Surer Parashey 1957 Uttam Kumar
Prithibi Amare Chaay 1957 Uttam Kumar
Putrabadhu 1956 Uttam Kumar
Dhuli 1954 Prasanta Kumar
Chitrangadha 1954 Utpal Dutta
Bhakta Bilwamangal 1954 Robin Majumdar
Jog Biyog 1953 Anil Chatterjee
Roshanara 1952 Asit Baran
Krishno Leela 1947 Child Artist
Jai Boishnob Debi 1946 Child Artist

Nepali film[edit]

  • Maitighar (1966) (Chidambar Prasad Lohani)


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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Trip down the memory lane with Mala Sinha". Screen. Bollywood Hungama. 13 March 2001. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  3. "Bollywood celebs: Then and now". Retrieved 27 December 2019.
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  5. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Do you know Mala Sinha is Christian?". Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 May 2010. Retrieved 24 February 2014. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. "Musical gimmicks". Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  9. "Yash Raj Films". Yash Raj Films. 3 December 1959. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  10. "Gumrah Review | Movie Review". Movie Talkies. 15 October 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  11. "Star Screen Lifetime Achievement Award Winners – Screen Videocon Lifetime Achievement Awards". Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  12. [1] Archived 21 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  13. "". Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 April 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2009. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  15. "Happy Birthday Mala Sinha » - Picture 10". Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  16. ", Movies: Profiling Mala Sinha". Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  17. Upperstall profile by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan. "Mala Sinha". Upperstall. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  18. "Happy Birthday Mala Sinha » - Picture 15". Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  19. "Mala Sinha misses the camera". 9 January 2018. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  20. "Mala Sinha Age, Husband, Family, Biography & More". Celebrity biography, Height, Weight, Age, Wiki. 2018-09-02. Retrieved 2019-05-25.
  21. "Mala Sinha Awards, List Of Awards Won By Mala Sinha". Archived from the original on 2 August 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2014. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  22. "Few facts about Bollywood's former heroine". The Telegraph. Calcutta, India. 15 July 2004.
  23. "| Bollywood News | Hindi Movies News | News". Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  24. "Hrithik, Kareena clinch Screen Awards". 16 June 2007. Archived from the original on 14 October 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2014. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  25. "". Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2014. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  26. "Filmfare 2018: Mala Sinha Awarded Lifetime Achievement Honour; Says Awards Don't Matter". 22 January 2018. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  27. "Sikkim begins to map Nepal's 'treasures'". The Times of India. 16 July 2004.

External links[edit]