Leela Chitnis

  • Birthday: 09. September 1909
  • Birthplace: Dharwad, Karnataka, India


She was born in Dharwad, Karnataka to an English professor. She was one of the first educated film actresses. Her husband[2] was part of a Marathi theatre company called Natyamanwantar.

Chitnis' early stage work included comedy Usna Navra (1934) and with her own film group Udyacha Sansar. She started acting to support her four children. She started as an extra and went on to stunt films.

She was publicised in the Times of India as the first graduate society-lady from Maharashtra. By then she had already made her first major mark as an actress on the silver screen. Chitnis worked at Prabhat Pictures, Pune and Ranjit Movietone before going on to be the leading lady in Bombay Talkies which saw her overtake and outshine Devika Rani. Her association with Bombay Talkies shot her to stardom and she made a particularly good partner with Devika Rani's leading man Ashok Kumar. Ashok Kumar was so impressed by her acting abilities that he admitted to having learnt how to speak with his eyes from her. In 1941 Chitnis, at the height of her popularity and glamour, created history of sorts by becoming the first Indian film star to endorse the popular Lux soap brand, a concession then only granted to top Hollywood heroines.

By the mid-1940s her career went downhill as the new leading ladies came in. For 22 years, Chitnis played the mother of the later leading men including Dilip Kumar, often playing an ailing mother or a mother going through hardships and struggling to bring up her offspring. In fact she created the archetype of the Hindi Film mother, which was continued by later actresses. She continued doing films and then emigrated to the United States in the late 1980s to join her children. She died in Danbury, Connecticut at a nursing home, at age 94.[1]


1964 - Aap Ki Parchhaiyan
2001 - Aas Ka Panchhi
1962 - Aashiq - 1962
2015 - Asli-Naqli
1967 - Aurat
1951 - Awara
1954 - Baadbaan
1940 - Bandhan
1956 - Basant Bahar
1960 - Bewaqoof
1961 - Dharmputra
1959 - Dhool Ka Phool
Dil Tujhko Diya
1964 - Dosti
1962 - Dr. Vidya
1955 - Funtoosh
1960 - Ghunghat
1965 - Guide
1967 - Gunahon Ka Devta
1961 - Gunga Jumna
1960 - Hum Hindustani
1969 - Intaqam
1970 - Jeevan Mrityu
1960 - Kala Bazar
1958 - Lajwanti
1967 - Majhli Didi
1970 - Man Ki Aankhen
1973 - Mehmaan
1957 - Naya Daur
1960 - Parakh
1958 - Phir Subah Hogi
1966 - Phool Aur Patthar
1964 - Pooja Ke Phool
1969 - Prince
1964 - Punar Milan
1958 - Sadhna
1952 - Sangdil
1978 - Satyam Shivam Sundaram
1964 - Shehnai
1958 - Ujala
1964 - Zindagi - 1964