Some women don’t need a last name. Over the years, several actresses have dropped their last names to carve memorable careers for themselves. Here’s a look at some of the most celebrated one-name actresses.
Asin Thottumkal was born into a Roman Catholic, Syrian Christian Kerala family. After scoring many hits down South, she stepped into Bollywood with Aamir Khan’s Ghajini remake. Her name means ’without sin.’
Born to Tanuja and film producer Shomu Mukherjee, Kajol carried on her mother and aunt’s tradition of sticking with just her first name. Her debut in 1992 -- Bekhudi -- might not have been stellar, but she went on to establish herself as one of the finest leading ladies of all time.
Tabassum Hashmi started out in Dev Anand’s 1985 film Hum Naujawan, and while her first few films didn’t show off her acting talent at all, it was only a matter of time before Farah’s sister would rise to the top of the arthouse cinema ladder.
Farah Naaz was born in Hyderabad. Shabana Azmi’s neice, she started her Bollywood innings with Yash Chopra’s 1985 Faaslem and made a bunch of movies including Yateem, Rakhwala and Naqaab. In the 90s, she briefly married Dara Singh’s son Vindoo, but their relationship was shortlived.
Neelam Kothari was born in Hong Kong to a wealthy family with an established name in jewellery retail, and it was when she was holidaying in Mumabi that she was offered a film. Her 1984 debut Jawaani didn’t work, but she established a great on-screen rapport with rising star Govinda, churning out hits like Love 86, Hatya and Do Qaidi.
Shree Amma Yanger was born in Tamil Nadu’s Sivakasi area, appropriately India’s hotspot for firecrackers. She began her career with the Tamil Kandhan Karunai in 1967, and after hits like Mr India and Chandni, settled into a more domestic life after marrying producer Boney Kapoor.
Bhanurekha might have been better served by using her famous Tamil star father’s last name, but legendary actor Gemini Ganesan didn’t initially acknowledge her as a part of his life. She began her career as a child star in the Telugu Rangula Ratnam in 1966 and went on to scale several peaks in Hindi cinema with hits like Muqaddar Ka Sikandar and Silsila.
Tanuja Samarth, Nutan’s younger sister, entered films as a child actress and followed in Nutan’s footsteps by dropping the last name. She began in 1950s Hamari Beti as Baby Tanuja, and built up an enviable body of solid acting work over the years.
Neice to Sadhana, Babita Shivdasani made nineteen films -- Haseena Maan Jaayegi being the highlight in 1969 -- before she met Randhir Kapoor on the sets of Kal Aaj Aur Kal and married him, giving up the acting mantle to become a dutiful Kapoor daughter in law.
Born to a Gujarati family, young Bindu Desai had to struggle up the ranks with difficulty early on, but her sensational song Mera naam Shabnam in Shakti Samanta’s 1970 Kati Patang established her as a screen-scorcher for the ages.
Born in London in 1939, Helen clearly realised being called Helen Jairag Richardson would have been a bit much for Indian audiences to quite digest, and so Indian cinema’s dancing queen used just her first name. Not that she needed more, we loved her right from 1958’s Howrah Bridge, where she grooved to Mera naam Chin Chin Chu.
Born in 1947 to Abdul Saleem Askari and Sardar Shadi Habab Agha, Mumtaz started out as an extra in the early 60s, graduated to random stunt films like Tarzan and King Kong, and finally broke into the spotlight with 1965’s Mere Sanam, where the song Yeh hai reshmi zulfein was picturised on her.
Sadhana Shivdasani was born in a Sindhi family in Karachi, one that moved to Mumbai after the 1947 partition. She first appeared as a chorus girl in Raj Kapoor’s 1955 classic, Shree 420. His assistant R K Nayyar, who would later marry the actress, asked her to get a fringe cut like Audrey Hepburn, something that resulted in the hairstyle being known as ’the Sadhana cut.’
Daughter to actress Shobhna Samarth and director Kumarsen Samarth, the Maharashtrian Nutan saw her parents separate when she was still a child. She entered the arclights with 1950’s Hamari Beti, and while she married Rajnish Behl in 1959, continued to just use her first name.
The striking Tamilian actress broke through into Hindi cinema with Nagin, one of her earliest films way back in 1954. Yet it was only after she got married to Dr Chamanlal Bali many years later that we could fix a last name to hers.
Born in Delhi as Mumtaz Begum Jehan Dehlavi, Madhubala started out her career in the early 40s as a child artist, and was credited in her first films simply as Mumtaz.It was when she was cast opposite Raj Kapoor in Neel Kamal that she began to use the name Madhubala. She was just 14 at the time.
A dusky Punjabi girl from Gujranwala, Suraiya got her break as a child artist in Hindi cinema aided by her uncle Zahoor, a popular screen villain. After these films from 1937-41, she found a mentor in legendary composer Naushad, and never looked back.
One of six children in a Maharashtrian family, Shashikala Jawalkar started performing on stage by the age of five.Her first film role came in 1936s Krorepati, and by the time the 1950s came around, she was widely accepted as a strong performer.
Daughter to Allahabad singer Jaddanbai and Hindu father Uttamchand Mohanchand, young Fatima Rashid was credited as ’Baby Nargis’ when she debuted at the age of six in 1935’s Talashe Haq, and she made the name -- that of the Narcissus flower -- tremendously iconic over the years.
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