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Vinita Butt – Interview

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She is Mrs. Arthur James Vining in private life and, after her marriage last November, she decided she would hibernate, for at least one whole year, in the cosy warmth of wedded bliss.

But, once an actress always an actress. And Vinita Butt, unable to quell the urge to act, has decided once more to enter the world of arc lights and grease-paint, but only in films in which her husband, make-up expert Jimmy Vining, also has an assignment.

Young and pretty Vini, who is as intelligent as she is charming, made an auspicious entry into films. Her small role of an Anglo-Indian secretary in Guru Dutt’s “Mr. & Mrs. 55” was applauded by critics and audiences.

But Vinita Butt, young though she is, has a wise head on her shoulders. Sincere about her work, she is not happy being cast in heterogeneous roles and wants to play meaty, Indian characters which can give her full scope to show her natural talent.

Interviewed by “Filmfare” almost a year ago, following her screen debut, Vinita had said about her career: “Be a perfectionist. Either make a success of your chosen profession or get out of it. It is no use wasting other people’s time as well as your own.”

Born in Rawalpindi on April 3rd, 1937, of Hindu-English parentage, Vinita spent the first seven years of her life in Kashmir. This, perhaps, explains her flawless peaches-and-cream complexion which, combined with large brown eyes, dark, exquisitely-arched eyebrows and a dimpled smile, has a devastating effect on most people.

Educated at various hill-station schools, Vini came to Bombay in November 1954, some time after she had done her Senior Cambridge in Bangalore.

In Bangalore, she had been a member of the Bangalore Amateur Dramatic Society (the B.A.D.S.) and appeared on the stage in Tagore’s “Sacrifice” and one of J. B. Priestley’s plays. At the back of her mind was always a small ambition which grew with her — the ambition to be, someday, a great actress.

In Bangalore Guru Dutt first saw her and, struck by her good looks and vivacious personality, he offered her a film contract. He took some photographs of her back with him to Bombay and then wrote to her, offering her a role. The terms were not exactly flattering and Vini and her mother soon forgot about the episode. In Bombay Vinita met Anwar Hussein, an old friend of the family, and, through him, Chandulal Shah who took to this bright little girl and gave her a small role in “Oot Patang,” the film he was then making.

Vinita took to grease-paint like a duck to water and loved every moment of her work. She is grateful for having been given the opportunity to work for, and with, Chandulal Shah and Goharbai whom she admires and respects.

While working in “Oot Patang”, Vinita visited the Mehboob Studios where, once again, she met Guru Dutt, who had gone on the floors with his film, “Mr. & Mrs. 55”. He offered Vinita the role of the Anglo-Indian office girl in the picture and she accepted readily.

At that time, Vini’s screen name was Yasmin and her performance, according to the critics, displayed a confidence, ease and aplomb which enabled her to even steal scenes from that seasoned comedian, Johnny Walker.

It was also at the Mehboob Studios that Vinita met Zul Vellani, who asked her to play Desdemona in a Theatre Group open-air presentation of “Othello.”

Mischievous Vinita scandalized the Shakespeare-steeped Theatre Group stalwarts by telling them that she had never read “Othello,” or, if she had, she did not remember it.

The “scamp” in her further prompted her to suggest to them that they would collect a far larger audience if they treated the play as a farce!

But all went well, and “Othello” was performed as Shakespeare wrote it, with Vinita making a delectable Desdemona.

This, indirectly, led to her next film contract. Alex D’Arcy, the Hollywood actor who came here to star in Filmistan’s CinemaScope and Technicolor production, “Bombay Flight 417,” met her and was impressed by her sylphlike figure and lovely looks.

Her film test, for which she was made up by her future husband, Jimmy Vining, was a great success and Vinita, now using her own name on the screen, landed the coveted role of Rukhmini in this ambitious production.

On the sets of this film began the whirlwind romance and courtship of Vinita Butt and Jimmy Vining, the marriage proposal being made in the studio’s make-up room. Wedding bells rang for the young lovers in November 1955 and, at a quiet civil-marriage ceremony, Vinita became Mrs. Jimmy Vining.

Following an enchanting honeymoon in Mahableshwar, after which the young bride, ecstatically happy and oblivious to film contracts, settled down to making a home.

Vinita has now been lured back to the world of films by Dewan Sharar who has assigned her an important role in his “Nirvana,” the story of Vasavadatta. Vinita is happy about the whole thing, since she not only has another chance to act but her beloved Jimmy will be right there with her, for he will do the makeup in the picture.

Marriage comes first with wise Vini and nothing in the world can be more important. (This interview was conducted in 1956).

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