Kalpana Kartik – Interview
TWENTY-TWO years old and bubbling with an eagerness to live, learn, see and do as much as possible, Kalpana Kartik is filled with a zest for life and youthful keenness which are all the more refreshing for a strong gamin streak of utter gameness absolutely uninhibited by the stodgy “look before you leap” philosophy.
Born in Lahore after her five brothers and two sisters, Kalpana is the youngest child of Mr. and Mrs. Singha—her real name is Mona and, incidentally, she is a Christian. Her father was the Tehsildar of Batala, in Gurdaspur District, where she spent a happy roistering childhood.
She went to school in Lahore and by the time she had started college the Partition had come into being and the family migrated to Simla. There she entered St. Bede’s.
A keen joiner-in at anything that’s doing when she is around, Kalpana took part in all the various extra-curricular activities that made up a fairly full social life for the students of St. Bede’s and figured prominently in the plays they were always producing. Like most of her companions, she used to visit the cinemas frequently. One day she went with a friend to the sets of a film, part of which was being shot in Simla. The producer was Roop Shorey who spotted her and asked her if she would like to act in films. Kalpana was fascinated by the idea and Shorey took some photographs of her.
Visiting her family at the time were Chetan and Uma Anand—”Uma’s mother is my cousin and so I am Mrs. Chetan’s aunt!” she relates. Not knowing how to go about signing a contract, Kalpana asked Chetan’s advice and was promptly offered a job by him in his own unit, Navketan. She accepted it on the spot and followed him to Bombay where she signed an exclusive three-year contract with Navketan and was given the screen name of Kalpana Kartik.
She made her debut in “Baazi” and followed up that very successful role with two other good portrayals in “Aandhiyan” and “Humsafar”. Right now she is playing the heroine in Navketan’s forthcoming production, “Taxi Driver,” and likes the part immensely as she has to masquerade as a boy for a good bit of the picture—something very much after her heart.
Her contract with the Navketan outfit expired in August and she is now likely to work for other companies.
As enchanted today with everything about Bombay as she was when she first came here and was enthralled by her first glimpse of the sea, Kalpana regrets the fact that, being a celebrity, she can no longer stroll around the city, window-shop and travel about by buses, trains and trams, exploring this fascinating place as she used to.
However, she finds many other things to do. She is learning Bharat Natyam, reads a lot (her favorite authors are Somerset Maugham, H. G. Wells, Krishin Chander, Ismat Chugtai). Eager to learn and improve her art, she reads books on dramatics and acting. She cooks very well, especially meat dishes, and quite often spends happy hours in the kitchen turning out her favorite dishes for friends.
She used to go on shikar with her brothers but can’t, she says, shoot well. She rides and swims just a little, but is a keen and skilled boatwoman.
There are hundreds of things she wants to learn and do, and here are some of them: wants to learn everything possible about acting and short-story writing, to cook Chinese food and to speak Persian and French. Kalpana would also love to go to the Far East and is as intrigued by it as any Westerner. Italy, Spain and Egypt are included in her list, too—so, she added as an after-thought, are the Elephanta Caves! She is very interested in gardening and recalls the time when she used to point to the vegetables at dinner in their home in Lahore and tell her brothers and sisters: “That is my carrot!”
As far as clothes are concerned Kalpana prefers the Punjabi costume. She doesn’t like saris. Red, mustard and black are her favorite colours, gypsy ear-rings her pet ornaments, lip-stick and kajal the only cosmetics she uses.
She wears her luxuriant black hair either loose or in braids and still thinks with horror of the time she had it ‘permed’–“to achieve glamour” for her first role in “Baazi”–and wept at first sight of herself in the mirror.
Young, fair and petite—her height is five feet two and a quarter (“Don’t forget the quarter,” she laughed)–Kalpana is very attractive in appearance and a gay, fun-loving person with an alert sense of humor, a vivacious smile and spontaneous charm, the sort of person one loves to have around at work or play, the ideal good companion on the road of life who will take the rough with the smooth.
She is going to make some man feel mighty lucky some day. Right now she hasn’t thought of any. She is far too happy by herself. (This interview was conducted in 1953).