Nadira was a boisterous actress of the 1950s and 1960s – famous for her negative roles. She was the first Hindi film vamp.
Nadira was born into a Baghdadi Jewish household in a primarily Muslim and Jewish neighborhood of Bombay, erstwhile Mumbai. Her parents got separated at a time when she was only a kid of four. She grew up with her brothers under the watchful care of her grandmother. Sardar Akhtar, the wife of celebrated filmmaker Mehboob Khan noticed her when he was still in her teens. She took charge of Farhat’s grooming and renamed her Nadira.
Nadira started her acting career with Aan in 1952, as a sizzling princess Rajashree. Soon she rose to cinematic eminence with Raj Kapoor’s Shree 420, with the negative role of a seductress she portrayed with panache. Her redolent recital in the mesmerizing dance number Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh in Shree 420 as a woman aiming to entice Raj Kapoor has been engraved in the memory of the audience.
She enacted in a gamut of grey-hued roles, be it of a temptress or a greedy wealth-hungry woman. Some of her notable performances include classics like Waris, Pakeeza, Dil Apna Prit Parayee, Hanste Zakhm, Sagar and Amar Akbar Anthony, and numerous other films. She even won a Best Supporting Actress Award for her role of a manipulative mother in Julie. Materialistic gains also came from her hard work, she was one of the first Hindi film actresses to own a Rolls Royce.
Of late, Tamanna, Josh and a tele-series, Margaritta, with Milind Soman saw her playing elderly characters in supporting roles.
Nadira first got married to an Urdu poet and filmmaker kown as Naqshab and changed her religion to Islam. Unfortunately the marriage was broken on a dour note. After that she gain had the misfortune of marrying a man who turned out to be a gold-digger. This marriage ended in one week only. She went on to spend the rest of her life alone with her housekeeper in an apartment in Mumbai, while most of her family members shifted to Israel.
Nadira passed away on the 9th of February, 2006 in the Bhatia Hospital at Tardeo at the age of 73 following a paralytic heart attack.