Read the diary pages of Nirupa Roy & get to know the real side of her. She talked about her meeting with Madhubala & shopping with Nargis Ji in Paris.


Bulsar, a little village. My grandmother combs my hair every morning before sending me to school. She rubs a lot of oil in it, & it glistens. Not a hair is out of place! School is very interesting.

I like it in class, but I like it better when the bell rings & we children run out to play, shouting gaily. I am happy at home. The other day I heard my mother saying to my grandmother, “kokila is such a home bird!” Yes, it is true! I enjoy doing chores about the house, drawing water from the well, cleaning rice, washing clothes & going down to the little shop in the bazaar to buy things for the house.

The grandmother is quite old and I love to help her. Once she promised me an anna to help her cook the dinner for the guests we were expecting. That was no work at all.

I like cooking….and I got my anna. My father gave me another anna. I was so touched. I locked it in my little box…I opened the box this morning. It is four months since my father gave me that anna. It is still in my box.

When I wake up in the morning, my first thought is: why am I so happy? Then I remember the one anna bit in my box. I tumble out of bed and open the box when nobody is looking. I smile happily and put the box away.


There is a tailoring shop next door. It is owned by an old woman. When I have nothing to do, I watch her work. One day she said to me,” Kokila, would you like to sew? I’ll give you an anna for every sixteen choli buttonholes you stitch.”

It was a thrilling moment. A rolling procession of one anna bits passed before my eyes.

I made up my mind to stitch buttonholes for the old woman every day. It is three months since I started stitching buttonholes.

But I must say I didn’t work for her every day. There were so many other things to do. And I played most of the time!

It was also the time when marriages are held, and how many marriages I attended! But I did stitch buttonholes. I collected sixteen rupees!

At fourteen:

Shy….timid…..embarrassed…today I heard them discussing my marriage. Who will it be?

  • nirupay roy ff cover


This city is another world. I don’t know what I would do without kamal, my husband. It is difficult to live like this…he says that we should break into films. I don’t know.

I don’t feel the least bit interested but kamal encourages me to think about it….I saw the shooting of a film today. It is yet another world. How many worlds within worlds there are!

I am to work in “Ranak devi” Mr. V.M Vyas the producer seems to have told my husband something about my being heroine…. Days pass……today I was demoted from the promised heroines role to that of side heroine.

Finally, I am a chorus girl! I don’t know what is happening. There are lights and more lights and scores of girls singing a song. I sing with them…

Ranjit Studios:

I go to work by train. I still don’t know Hindustani. Kamal asks me “do you always want to work in Gujarati films? Suppose someday they stop making films in Gujrati?!” All right I’ll learn Hindustani.

I am regular about the things I do. I catch the same train every morning. At Dadar station, I have been noticing a girl about my age. We walk down the same street.

While I go straight on to Ranjit Studio, she turns left. There is another studio there, called Shree Sound Studios. I talked to the girl this morning at Dadar railway station. She too has noticed me. I told her about my difficulties with Hindustani.

Her name is Mumtaz Jahah Begum and she was born in Delhi. She is very eager to become a star and is studying Urdu. She asks me to join her in her studies. (She is today, our Madhubala)


Now my name is Nirupa Roy and a row of successful mythological films lines the way from yesterday to today. We go to Indore to attend the premiere of one of my films.

At the theatre, a sadhu pushes his way through the crowd and chanting mantras comes up and garlands me. I drawback, thinking of what I have heard about people being hypnotized and lured away.

But as if he had read my thoughts the sadhu reassures me. He has come to honor a saint, he says. I was not an actress that day. I felt spiritual.

Shivaji park flat:

Living with us are some of my relatives and their children. We have a teacher coming to the house to teach them. The first morning she arrived she came straight to my room and sitting on the floor at my feet sang a bhajan.

Then she touched my feet and without a word went to the next room to teach the children. Such incidents are becoming frequent. They are embarrassing but I have taken a lesson from them.

They give me a sense of responsibility towards the people in whom I engender such feelings. They have made me more humble and religious than I was before…

Marine drive flat:

The same thing happened the other day. I had come from night work at the studios and was still fast asleep in the morning.

At about 9 four women came in and though Kamal’s mother told them I was asleep they sat down and began to perform pooja and sing bhajans! When they finished, they went away.


We stopped in Paris on our way back from Russia. Nargis & I went out shopping. Paris is a fascinating city and everybody is so friendly. We went into a shop where I saw a pair of unusual earrings. They were so attractive that I asked for two pairs.

The shop had only one pair and I bought it. I told them I would come back the next day for another pair, and they promised to have it ready for me.

But the next day I just couldn’t find the shop. Search where I would, I failed to locate. The shop had disappeared! I am afraid my sense of direction is not very good!


This is a peaceful little fishing village a few miles from Bombay. We were here for the location shooting of “Sant Raghu” another mythological film. The villagers are friendly.

We are filming a boat scene song and I am to stand swaying in a paddleboat for the picturization. Everything is set. The camera starts to roll. I begin to sway n the boat, blissfully unmindful of my precarious stance!

Sure enough, the boat capsizes. But, fortunately, we are in shallow water and I resume my place in the boat after changing into a dry costume. For other scenes in the sequence, it was necessary for us to go further out. With me were an assistant director and two fishermen who manned the boat.

I was chatting animatedly to them and fidgeting around in the boat when suddenly the grizzled old fisherman who was with us lost his temper.

“All right! All right!” he said in Marathi and as though talking to a child. “Enough of your jabbering! Sit still, otherwise, you’ll topple into the water again!”Speak civilly,” said the assistant director to him.

“Don’t you know you’re talking to Nirupa Roy?” but I felt good for being ticked off by someone after many years and I liked the old man for his spirit.I enjoy outdoor shooting in a village.

The villagers are always kind and hospitable, at Apte, a villager and his wife cooked tasty meals for me, served me in their best utensils, and even wanted me to stay with them!


I am terribly afraid at I am becoming typed as an actress and there will be no chance of coming out of the rut I am failing into. It has happened often to a star and I had almost resigned myself to playing only one kind of role always…..but here I am in Calcutta appearing as a peasant’s wife in “Do Bigha Zamin”.

How people talked when I was assigned the role! I wouldn’t be able to do it, they said! How little they knew! It wasn’t a role I was to do.

I had merely to be what I was in my childhood days. I am that peasant woman. What you see now is just covering and adornment.

Bimal Roy had placed his camera at a bus stop. I was to board a bus at an earlier stop and get down here with the passengers. I had drawn the end of my sari over my head so that my face was hidden.

I am barefoot too and can feel the passengers in the bus looking at me with curiosity, wondering who I am…..At the next stop, they knew. Shooting in the alleyways of Calcutta is fun. I went into a house today to ask for a glass of water.

From every house, people came running out and everyone said “come and drink water at my house.” I had invitations to eat with them, even to stay with them!


Many have been the months and pictures since then. I have now become typed for other kind of role. I am now either a mythological heroine or a peasant’s wife!

When will picture makers have imagination and set a challenge of more types and roles to the artists?I seem to be growing very ambitious.

The comfortable feeling of security, which is good to have and also bad because it makes one unenterprising, urges me on to dizzy heights.

Often I dream and no achievement seems too big for me to attempt. No role seems too challenging…. I see many foreign films and think: “What that woman can do, I can do better….” – Filmfare 1957

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