Leena Chitnis was an early actress of Indian Film Industry.
Early Life & Background
Leena was born on 9th September 1909 in Dharwad, Karnatak. Her father was an English Professor. She was the first educated actress of Indian Film Industry. According to the leading newspaper, she was the First Graduate Society Lady from Maharashtra.
First Assignment/ First Major Break
Leena started her career as a junior artist, however, she debuted as a lead actress in the movie ‘Shri Satyanarayan’ in 1935.
Journey in the Industry
In an early stage, Leena worked as a junior artist to support her four children. Later she worked in a play ‘Usna Navra’ in 1934. Before working in theatres, Leena was a school teacher. Leena started her career as an actress in film industry from the movie ‘Shri Satyanarayan’ in 1935. Later she worked with Yash Chopra in a movie ‘Dharmputra’ along with Shashi Kapoor and Mala Sinha. She has acted in many super hits movies like ‘Dosti’, ‘Aap Ki Parchhaiyan’, ‘Mohabbat Isko Kahete Hai’, ‘Dil Tujhko Diya’, ‘Mehman’ and many more. She has worked with Dharmendra, Nutan and Rehman in a popular movie ‘Dulhan Ek Raat Ki’.
Leena was the first lady from the film industry who endorsed the popular soap brand Lux. In the mid of 1940’s her career went down as the new leading ladies entered the industry and thus, Leena was seen playing motherly roles. She played the mother of later leading actors including Dharmendra in a movie ‘Jeevan Mrityu’. Meanwhile, she worked in Raj Kapoor’s directorial movie ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’ staring Shashi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman.
Leena was not only an actress but also a director and a producer. In 1955 she directed and produced a movie named ‘Aaj Ki Baat’. She has worked with popular production houses of that time like Prabhat Pictures, Ranjit Movietone and Bombay Talkies. In 1980’s, Leena quit the industry and was migrated to USA to lived with her children.
Leena got married with Dr. Gajanan Yeshwant Chitnis who was a part of Marathi Theater Company ‘Natyamanwantar’ at the age of 16. The couple had four children. During the British Rule, the couple supported India’s struggle for Independence and was even arrested once by Manabendra Nath Roy, a Marxist freedom fighter. Later the couple got divorced and she became a school teacher. On 14th July 2003, she died in Danbury, USA.