Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Veteran Hindi film actress Leela Naidu dies

MUMBAI: Leela Naidu, (Her father was the well known nuclear physicist Pattipati Ramaiah Naidu from Chittor District Andhra Pradesh while her mother was of Irish / French origin) was crowned Miss India in 1954, once listed by Vogue as one of the 10 most beautiful women in the world, passed away at her Colaba residence on Tuesday night.

She was 69. A close family friend of the actress told that Naidu was down with fever for some days. "Last night, one of her domestic staff gave her porridge,'' he said. "She had a few spoons, after which she went to sleep. A little later, one of her paying guests who came to check on her found her dead.'' The funeral at Chandanwadi was attended by her daughter, grandson and friends.

Film publicist Piroj Wadia, who knew Naidu for nearly nine years, said the actress had descended into loneliness after her second husband, the late litterateur Dom Moraes, left her. "People too abandoned her after that,'' she said. "But although she was almost a recluse, she was completely clued in to events around her.

After the 26/11 attack, she didn't celebrate any festival or event for the rest of the year. She said she didn't feel like doing anything.'' Naidu's entry into films was serendipitous. Director Hrishikesh Mukherji chanced upon her pictures taken by Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay and declared that he had found his Anuradha, the protagonist of his eponymous 1960 film.

Naidu played a woman who has to sacrifice her musical talent when life with her doctor husband (Balraj Sahni) takes her to a village. The film came a cropper at the box-office but went on win the national award for the best film and a nomination for the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1961.

Leela Naidu was first married to Bikki Oberoi, the son of Mohan Singh Oberoi -- the founder of Oberoi Hotels. Later she divorced Oberoi and married poet Dom Moraes
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