Revisiting Nutan's Life: Was Called An 'Ugly Child', Took Mother To Court, Slapgate, Death To Cancer

Nutan was one of the most prolific actresses in Indian cinema. However, she was also involved in many controversies in her lifetime.


By Monisha G Kumar Last Updated:


Revisiting Nutan's Life: Was Called An 'Ugly Child', Took Mother To Court, Slapgate, Death To Cancer

Yesteryear star, Nutan was regarded as the finest actress in Hindi cinema. She was hailed for her naturalistic acting in the women-centric roles she portrayed. Nutan had the ability to impersonate complex characters with ease. Be it her role in Sujata or the dejected woman in Bandini, Nutan did complete justice to the emotions of dejections.

Some state that it was her overall weariness with life that helped her portray her remorseful characters well. But people close to her objected to her being sad and instead insisted that the actress was one of the happiest people. Once veteran actor, Dev Anand cryptically stated:

“There was a streak of sadness in Nutan. The last part of her life was so sad.”

Also Read: When Mohnish Bahl Remembered His Last Meeting With His Late Mother And Legendary Actress, Nutan


Nutan was born into a Marathi family to filmmaker and poet Kumarsen Samarth and his actress wife, Shobhana. She was the eldest of her siblings, Tanuja and Chatura, and a brother, Jaideep. Apart from films, Nutan’s life revolved around her husband Rajinish and son Mohnish Bahl. Despite all the glory, Nutan was in the headlines for certain controversies. Let us revisit Nutan’s life and the times she gained limelight apart from her professional life.

Nutan was called an ‘ugly child’


Nutan grew up with a lot of complexes as she was very skinny during her childhood. Once, a family friend called Nutan ugly, and it was her mother, Shobhana, who comforted her. In an old interview, Nutan recalled the incident from her childhood days and stated:

“I remember when I was four years old a friend of my mother remarked after taking a long and disapproving look at me, 'Honestly, Shobhana what an ugly child you have!'”

Nutan was sent to a Swiss school to groom herself


Nutan was launched by her mother, Shobhana, in 1950 with the film, Hamari Beti. A family friend who once called her ugly changed her opinion after seeing her fine performance. Nutan was crowned Miss India in 1951. Since Nutan was skinny, her mother, Shobhana, sent her to the Swiss Finishing School, La Chatelaine. The actress was groomed there and became curvaceous with an extra 40 pounds.

Recommended Read: When Tanuja Slapped Dharmendra On The Sets Of Their Film, 'Chand Aur Suraj', Called Him 'Besharam'


Nutan became one of the most sought-after actresses of her time and went on to win five Filmfare Awards for Best Actress. Some of her notable works include Seema, Sujata, Anari, Bandini, Tere Ghar Ke Saamne, Milan, Saraswatichandra, and Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki.

Nutan's love story with Shammi Kapoor

nutan love story

Nutan and actor Shammi Kapoor grew up together as neighbours. There were many reports that the two were madly in love. However, when Nutan told her mother about Shammi, it was alleged that she denied it and sent Nutan off to Switzerland for studies. That was the end of their childhood love story. Once, in an interview with ETimes, Shammi Kapoor’s wife, Neila Devi, revealed that the actor got married to Geeta Bali on the rebound of Nutan.

Nutan’s marriage with Rajnish Bahl


Nutan married naval Lieutenant Commander, Rajnish Bahl in 1959, and the couple became parents to a baby boy, Mohnish Bahl, in 1961. Mohnish is an established actor in the glamour world. Nutan always wanted to give time to her family as she believed in the institution of marriage. The actress had announced that she won’t be working after her marriage.



But her husband, Rajnish made her change her mind. Rajnish Bahl once revealed that Nutan had two passions - films and family. However, her husband didn’t let her passion for acting die over her family responsibilities, and Nutan became the torchbearer for many actresses with her lineup of successful films as a married actress.

When Nutan took her mother, Shobhana to court


It was alleged that Nutan filed a case against her mother, Shobhana for mishandling her funds. There was no communication between the Samarth family and Nutan for nearly two decades. In an interview with fashion photographer, Gautam Rajadhyaksha, she revealed the reason behind filing a case against her mother and said:

“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.”


Nutan’s relationship with her mother and siblings soured so much that once, when she was flying to Chennai, she saw her sister, Tanuja, on the same flight, so she got off and boarded another flight. Shobhana said it was only after her marriage that the actress grew apart from her family. The family had a reunion with Nutan when her grandmother fell ill, and it was a moment of joy for everyone. The case, too, was settled in 1983.

Also Read: Tanuja's Love Life: From Dating An Italian Man To Separation From Shomu Mukherjee

Nutan slapped Sanjeev Kumar publicly


Nutan and Sanjeev Kumar had acted in a few films, and the duo always shared a friendly bond. However, soon, rumours of their affair started doing the rounds, which the actress brushed off initially. However, with time, the rumours gained momentum, disturbing her. Later, she got to know from a reliable source that it was Sanjeev himself who had ignited the rumours.

Sanjeev Kumar Nutan

Not only this, as per Nutan, Sanjeev also claimed that he and Nutan were living together and planning to get custody of Nutan’s son, Mohnish Bahl. The actress also stated that Sanjeev revealed that the actress was thinking of ending her marriage with Rajnish Bahl. In a fiery interview with Stardust in 1972, Nutan recalled the incident and stated that Sanjeev wasn’t even worth her husband’s toenail.

Sanjeev Nutan

She had enough of the rumours and decided to talk to Sanjeev Kumar. When she went up to him, he gave her an unnecessary attitude, which irked her more. Elaborating about the stinging slap, Nutan said:

“He stopped, with one hand on his hip, a bored come-on-get-over-with-it fast expression, on his face. It made my blood boil. I told him quietly that I wanted to talk to him. With the same indifferent expression, he flicked his wrist disrespectfully at a corner and said, “Let’s go and sit there.” And that did it! I couldn’t take it any more and I let him have one stinging slap, and a large piece of my mind.”

Nutan’s death from cancer


A biting sensation in the armpit was the beginning of Nutan’s illness, which was later diagnosed as breast cancer. She returned the signing amount and spent her remaining time in spirituality. As per Nutan’s mother, Shobhana, the actress lost her will after being diagnosed with cancer. She encouraged her sickness and distanced herself from her loved ones.


In 1990, her health deteriorated as the cancer spread to her liver. On February 21, 1991, Nutan passed away after giving a tough fight to cancer. In 2004, Nutan’s penthouse apartment in the 32-storeyed Sagar Sangeet in Colaba caught fire. Nutan’s husband, Rajnish Bahl was caught in the fire and died of burns.

Nutan was heavily criticised for dragging her mother to court and the act of slapping an actor in public. But she had no regret for her actions. Nutan’s bold moves to take a stand for herself made her one of the most respected actresses in Hindi cinema.

Recommended Read: When Nutan Slapped Sanjeev Kumar On The Sets Of Their Film 'Devi' For Maligning Her Image In Public

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