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Achala Sachdev: Abandoned, Forgotten…

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Achala Sachdev: Abandoned, Forgotten… 4

Does anyone  remember Achala Sachdev, the eternal  mom of filmdom, a bit  playful, a  bit sad, very sweet and  a little lost…Achala Sachdev  died a very lonely death  in 2012 at a Pune hospital. Had she  lived she would have been  101  on  May 3. Considering how lonely she was after her British husband’s death  , it was  for  the  best that Achalajee went.

 I can’t remember a time when  she was  not playing a mother. Always suffering , coughing, roughing it out over the sewing machine. In Mera Naam  Joker  she  was  Raj Kapoor’s mother although he was just 4 years her  junior.  No wonder she quit  Bollywood and fled  to  Pune  after marrying  the British national Clifford Douglas Peters. His death left  her  bereft,  unmoored,  without a  purpose  to live. There was  a son and daughter from her  previous  marriage. But they were  never seen anywhere near Achalaji.

No one  in Mumbai remembered her when she passed  away in 2012. Except Yash Chopra. She  was  a regular  in his films right from the time he branched  out as an independent  filmmaker with Daag  in 1973. One of Achalaji’s last appearances  was in Yash Chopra’s Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge where she played  Amrish Puri’s mother, Kajol’s grandmother.

Yashji  was emotional on  her passing. “She was not only a fine  actress , she was also  a part of  my family. When I  was  with  my brother( B R Chopra) she featured regularly in  my brother’s films. I  directed  her in my brother’s film Waqt.She took instruction so  carefully and did exactly what I asked her  to do.”

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Achalaji  was also  a big favourite with Dev Anand.When Dev Saab turned director in Prem Pujari he made sure to  have  her in the film. She  was  superb in Dev Saab’a Hare Rama Hare Krishna playing Dev and Zeenat’s mother(she was only three  years  Dev Anand’s senior)  who squabbled endlessly with her screen-husband  Kishore Sahu.

In  Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi  Kabhi Gham she was Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan’s grandmother.

Her  most popular  role  was that of  Balraj Sahni’s wife in  B R Chopra’s  Waqt where  Sahni sang Ae  meri zohra jabeen  to her. But she  wasn’t particularly proud of that role. She rightly attributed its  popularity  to   the song, and felt she had  made no contribution to it.

Achala Sachdev’s proudest role was  that as Jaya Bhaduri’s interfering  mother  in Anil Ganguly’s  Kora Kagaz who  destroys  her daughter’s marriage  with her meddlesome ways and who bullies her screen-husband A  K Hangal into silent submission.

I know a  lot  of husbands who  could  recognize that woman  up there. Busybody self-appointed  do-gooder ploughing her  unwarranted  attention  in her  child’s  marriage,  blissfully unaware  of the damage  she  causes.

Jaya remembers Achala Sachdev as , “A very fine actress. She  could  say a lot  in just  a few scenes. She didn’t get her dues from this  industry.”

A particularly  low-blow was  that the  tireless matriarch  Achala Sachdev is  often  mistaken for  the voluptuous Asha Sachdev. It’s like confusing Huma Khan with Huma Qureshi.

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