20 April 1914
|Died||3 October 1973 (aged 59)|
Kolkata3 October 1973 (aged 59)
A contemporary of Uday Shankar, in the 1930s she staged a number of ballets in Kolkata, including Bhookh on Bengal famine which was a pioneering work in presenting contemporary themes on stage and Omar Khayyam. Timir Baran, having left Uday Shankar's team, composed music for his performances and Tapas Sen did lighting design for her productions.
Born Sadhana Sen, she was the grand daughter of Keshab Chandra Sen, a social reformer and Brahmo Samaj member and daughter of Saral Sen. She later married film director Madhu Bose, son of Pramatha Nath Bose, a pioneering geologist and paleontologist in 1929.
She was so popular as a glamorous heroine of the silver screen in the 1930s and 1940s that her face appeared in the Otene snow to enhance its brand value in the market during interwar years. Her younger sister Naina Devi (original name Nilina Sen) was a legendary classical singer. Her two paternal aunts were Maharanis of two well known princely states of Eastern India: Maharani Sunity Devi of Cooch Behar and Maharani Sucharu Devi of Mayurbhanj.
Granddaughter of Brahmakesari Keshab Chandra Sen, Sadhona was born in a prosperous Brahmo family and received education as was common with Brahmo girls of those days. Her father was Saral Chandra Sen and she was the second of his three daughters. Her elder sister Binita was married into a royal family of Chittagong (now in Bangladesh) and settled to household life, while the youngest Nilina pursued a career in Indian Classical music and earned herself a position of eminence and was known in record circles as Naina Devi. Sadhona married Madhu Bose, film maker working in Bengal, British India, at a young age, and joined the Calcutta Art Players, a theatrical company owned by husband Modhu Bose and took part as heroine in the plays produced by the unit. Later on Sadhona joined films and played Marjina in Alibaba (1937), made in Bengali under the banner of Bharatlakshmi Pictures. This film was a runaway hit and is remembered well by film enthusiasts. Modhu Bose had earlier directed a number of films but he tasted real success with Alibaba. For Sadhona this film meant a permanent place in the history of Bengali films. This was followed with Abhinoy (Bengali-1938), another major success for the couple. They migrated to Bombay and again created history with the immensely popular Kumkum (1940), made in two languages, Hindi and Bengali and thereafter went on to create the first triple version (English, Bengali, Hindi) film of India, Rajnartaki (1941). Sadhona did come back to Calcutta for a double version Bengali movie Meenakshi (1942)with the handsome Jyoti Prakash as the hero. Going back to Bombay soon after the completion of this film where she starred in major films like Shankar Parvati, Vishkanya, Paigham and others and firmly established herself as a heroine in her own right without the backing of husband Modhu Bose. In fact they had separated by the mid forties. Sadhona started living a life of abandon, drinking and partying. She came back to calcutta after a reconciliation with Modhu Bose but had by this time lost her magic hold over the audiences and acted in films again directed by her husband like Shesher Kabita and Maa O Chhele, without much success. Sadhona was a good dancer and almost all her film successes were in dancing roles. She was also a very fine actress and singer, too. She sang her own songs in some of her films including her first Alibaba. With film offers becoming too infrequent, she formed a dance troupe of her own and made all India tours with plays like Wither now, Hunger and others and met with success again. She passed into oblivion slowly. Even in retired life she could not part with the bottle and without any income worth the name she found herself in the most difficult conditions financially. Modhu bose was ill and it was difficult to get treatment for him. She lost her husband in 1969 and had no money to sustain herself and thereafter came the greatest tragic period of her life when she had to resort to begging in the streets, in and around Park Street of calcutta. It was during this phase of her life that passers by and street walkers came across an old lady, looking distinguished, dressed in clothes that were expensive at one time but now showing the wear and tear asking for help. Some recognised her and gave her enough to go on for some days while some others gave her a rude rebuff. She took all that with a smile. Just before her death she got appointed as dance trainer in Calcutta's prestigious Star Theatre, courtesy her one time boy friend Timir Baran. She trained junior artistes for the play Janapad Badhu and once again her name featured in the newspapers in the advertisements of the play. However, the end had come very near and she passed away in September,1973. A very tragic and unfortunate way indeed for an all India star who at a time had captured the heart and imagination of millions.
- "Shovana feels 'at home' in Lucknow". Times of India. 9 February 2003. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- "True to his own light". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 20 August 2006. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- "Multifaceted artist". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 2 January 2007. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- Projesh Banerji (1983). Indian ballet dancing. Abhinav Publications. p. 138. ISBN 0-391-02716-6.
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- "TRIBUTE: True to his own light". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 20 August 2006.
- Biography IMDb.