I met Babita Shivdasani-Kapoor once over lunch when she accompanied her daughter Kareena to meet me at a posh restaurant in suburban Mumbai. She was warm and outspoken and seemed interested in only talking about her daughters. When I would bring up the topic of her career she brushed it off, “It was just a phase in my life. I wasn’t really career-driven. I wouldn’t say I was not serious. I worked hard for 6 years from 1966 to 1972. Then I gave it up to marry Daboo(Randhir Kapoor) and had my two daughters Lolo(Karisma) and Bebo(Kareena) and I never looked back.”
Critics unfairly compared Babita to her legendary cousin Sadhana Shivdasani. They were were not similar in their personality or aspirations.
Maybe Babita should look back a bit to see her achievements. The fact is, cinema history has been unfair to Babita. Not much of an actress, I know. But out of the 19 films that she did between 1966 and 72, MOST OF HER FILMS WERE HITS!!! In fact Babita’s success ratio is higher than that of any other leading lady of the 1960s, and yet she is not even mentioned in any evaluation of Hindi cinema of the decade.
Babita’s first release Dus Lakh in 1966 with Sanjay Khan as her co-star was a big hit.It immediately stamped her as a lucky heroine. And heroes were falling over each other to work with her. In 1967 she was Jeetendra’s leading lady in the biggest hit of his career Farz .They paired up again in Aulad Bikhre Moti ,Anmol Moti,Banphool all hits.
She was also Rajesh Khanna’s first heroine in Raaz which flopped. But their second film together Doli was a hit. In 1968 she teamed up with her future uncle-in-law Shashi Kapoor in Haseena Maan Jayegi which was a massive hit one of the biggest hits of his career unmatched by any of the innumerable films he did with Babita’s Samdhan Sharmila Tagore.
Fun trivia: Babita’s daughter Karisma also did a film entitled Haseena Maan Jayegi. During the same year she was paired opposite Biswajeet in one of his last successful films Kismat, remembered for its hit song Kajra mohabbat wala to this day.She also starred opposite the fast-fading Rajendra Kumar in Anjana in 1969, one of his last hits, and with her future father-in-law Raj Kapoor’s brother Shammi Kapoor in one of his last successful films as a leading man Tumse Achcha Kaun Hai.
In 1971 she was paired with her soon-to-be-husband Randhir Kapoor in his family film Kal Aaj Aur Kal which starred Babita with three generations of the Kapoor clan Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor and Randhir Kapoor.
Besides these blockbusters she also sang many timeless chartbusters on screen : Bekhudi mein sanam(Haseena Maan Jayegi), Aao huzoor tumko sitaron pe le chalun(Kismat), Kab tak huzoor roothe rahoge(Aulad), Jeevan path pe pyar ne chedi madhur madhur sargam(Ek Shriman Ek Shrimati), Sajna saath nibhana(Doli), Rimjhim ke geet sawan gaye(Anjana), Ho gayee teri ho gayee(Kab Kyun Aur Kahan), Aap yahan aaye kis liye(Kal Aaj Aur Kal), Yeh jo ladki hai(Bikhre Moti), Aahen na bhar thandi(Banphool), Sheeshi bhari gulab ki(Jeet) and Do qadam tum bhi chalo(Ek Haseena Do Diwane).
Babita Shivdasani-Kapoor is not counted among the legends. She is not one of them. But she gave the 1960s some of its biggest hits.And that counts.