January 24, 2020
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The Nation's Icon Names The 10 Women He Admires


I consider the Maharani of Jaipur one of the most beautiful women of this century for her looks, her presence, the way she carries herself and the clothes she wears. In the latter part of her life, she has done a lot for Jaipur in setting up institutions of education and improving the lot of women.

I visit Jaipur often. When I once stayed at the private palace which has now been converted into a hotel, I saw a picture of the Rani of Cooch Behar, Gayatri Devi's mother, in the main corridor. I am not sure whether it was a painting or a photograph but she was even more beautiful than Gayatri Devi. In the picture, she is sitting on a chair and yet the grace, dignity, poise and the presence about her comes through.

I also happened to see the erstwhile maharani of Patiala when I was a kid, at Teen Murti House. When she walked into the room, it was as if the whole room had lit up. Although a brief encounter, the memory of it has remained with me.

She has a very raw Indian look about her. In my mind, she has just about the perfect Indian look. Add to that her excellent cinematic performances - not just creatively good but trendsetting in the realm of subtlety and softness, which in her era one didn't find. Or didn't look for in artistes.

In today's time, she has just about the most perfect ce. It is difficult to find any defect in her face, her body. She is truly deserving of the titles she has won and has now accomplished herself by being a very fine creative artiste on celluloid as well.

Saira Banu's mother. She is a woman of great beauty. There is a certain softness about her in the way she talks and behaves. A lady with great charm who during her prime was perhaps the most beautiful Indian actress.

Gemini Ganesan's wife, this south Indian actress had looks that were similar to Meena Kumari's or Suraiya's. But she had a certain kind of youthful bubble which lent her vivacity and exuberance. She was one of the first actresses with unbelievable spontaneity. If one epitomises natural acting with Geeta Bali, another extremely beautiful woman, Savitri Devi, had the same quality about her.

The classic Bengali beauty, sublime yet powerful. She will always be remembered for the quality of her voice and the expression of her eyes.

By far one of the most brilliant smiles that has ever been seen in any of the leading ladies or some of the women talked of earlier. Her smile is so unique that she does not have to say anything after that. She has the most expressive smile and eyes.

Another classic beauty, with the most perfect oval face. Sadly, one didn't see much of her in films but there was a gentleness about her that was attractive.

Another very dignified, beautiful person, she is one of the finest actresses India has produced. She was a great artiste but it was her voice that was the most important ingredient of her persona. It was endearing, almost vulnerable, yet correct and firm - difficult qualities to be found in one voice.She also had beautiful eyes and literally spoke with them.

She is my grand-daughter and I am going to be a bit biased. She will be two in December and I have yet to meet a more aware, conscious, intelligent little lady as herself. She has an unbelievably strong and intelligent mind and is the most loveable ingredient in any kind of assembly. Her lips and her eyes are the most expressive that I have ever seen among children of her age.

And then, there is my mother Teji Bachchan is the embodiment of a lot of strength. She is a Sikh from an aristocratic upper class family who married my father, a Hindu from a lower middle class family, in 1942. She had the strength of belief in my father, supporting his creative instincts and those which were to come in smaller measure in myself. She has a very strong mind, is optimistic, fearless, full of joy and energetic. Although she is in her eighties, her mind is the same as it was in her thirties.


BBC Online's Superstar of the Millennium and the subject of Amitabh Bachchan : A Legend, spoke to Saira Menezes

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