The swimsuit, the lawsuit, the slap: Remembering Nutan, the most perfect face ever

It has been 27 years since Nutan passed away, but her magic endures. Here’s an insight into this actress who was ahead of her times in every way…

Noted make-up artist of the time, Tipnis maintained that the only truly perfect face was Nutan’s. “Her features were classically beautiful,” he said, “She needed no help.” Famous photographer Gautam Rajadhyaksha also shared, “From a photographer’s point of view, I’ve come across only two perfect faces. One is that of Nutan. Shoot her at any time, in any costume, at any angle… even without make-up and she’s beautiful. The other is Madhuri Dixit.”

Nutan herself had shared that as a teenager she was terribly thin and that within the industry there was a joke that if you wanted to draw Nutan, you just had to draw a straight line! Her mother even feared that she had TB. At 17, despite the fact that she had so many film offers, her mother sent her to a finishing school in Switzerland. She calls it the happiest phase of her life.

She raised eyebrows way back in 1958 when she wore a swimsuit onscreen in Dilli Ka Thug. In the film, she played a swimming and diving champion who beat her competition hands-down. Even though her one-piece was utterly modest, it had kicked up a storm in those conservative times.

She was known for her willingness to play unconventional characters. She essayed many path-breaking roles in films like Sujata (1959), Bandini (1963), Milan (1967) and Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki (1978). What’s more, she either played the main part or shared equal footing with the hero.

At a time when the Hindi film heroine was generally screechy, Nutan was the opposite. She made an impact with her mellow and low-key style of delivery and exquisite expressions.

She hit the headlines for taking her mother, Shobhana Samarth to court for mismanaging her funds. “It was a very hard decision for me to take. Yes, I had expected the reaction: `How can a daughter take her mother to the court?' But that didn't make the conflict any easier to bear. Yet, I had to do it to protect the future of everyone concerned. Anyway since 1983, all is well between the two families,” she had later shared.

Another controversy linked with her name is her slapping of her co-star Sanjeev Kumar. Apparently, he had made a careless, irresponsible statement about having an affair. It left her furious as she had never been linked with scandals. “I had to put him in his place. After I said what I had to, I cooled down and said, 'Let's finish the love scene', and we did,” she later revealed.

What a woman!