Tuesday, Dec 01, 2020 | Last Update : 08:30 AM IST
Meenakshi Seshadri was born on November 16, 1963 in Sindri, Dhanbad, Bihar (now Jharkhand). She was named as Shashikala Seshadri on birth but later she changed her name after becoming a Bollywood star.
Miss India International & Bollywood Debut:
Meenakshi Seshadri was crowned as Eve's Weekly Miss India International in 1981. She was a runners up to Sangeeta Bijlani. India didn't place at Miss International pageant back in 1981 as the judges mainly prefered East Asian and Latin American girls in that pageant and India's record has been abyssmal. Soon after winning the Miss India title, Meenakshi Seshadri started receiving Bollywood offers. She made her Bollywood debut opposite Rajiv Goswami (Brother of Manoj Kumar) in Painter Babu in 1983, but the movie didn't do well. So disappointed Meenakshi was with this that she decided to quit acting.
Subhash Ghai's Hero & Stardom :
Subhash Ghai convinced Meenakshi to act in his movie Hero opposite newcomer Jackie Shroff. Hero was released on 16 December 1983 and went on to become one of the most successful movies of that year. Jackie Shroff and Meenakshi Sheshadri became huge stars after its release. The movie is still remembered for its melodious music. The younger audiences enjoyed the performances, and critics applauded Ghai for using fresh faces at a time when Amitabh Bachchan was the dominant star in Bollywood.
Yash Chopra Heroine:
All Bollywood actresses desired to star in a Yash Chopra directed movie till the time he was alive. Meenakshi Sheshadri was also lucky to be cast as the lead actress in Vijay which was produced and directed by Yash Chopra. She was paired with Anil Kapoor in the movie and almost all the songs were picturized on her.
Shiv-Hari composed the music for this film. The music wasn't bad but it was not as good as Chandni and Lamhe. Even the film flopped at the box-office. Meenakshi Sheshadri was called the saving grace of the film and Yash Chopra filmed all the songs on her in his trademark Switzerland, all these songs became immensely popular.
Shahenshah with Amitabh Bachchan
In 1988, Bollywood actress Meenakshi Sheshadri appeared in Shahenshah alongside Amitabh Bachchan. Due to Amitabh's illness and his commitments to other movies, the start of Shahenshah's shooting was delayed until 1985. By this time, the main heroine of the film, Dimple Kapadia, was replaced by Meenakshi Sheshadri. The movie was released on 12 February 1988. It was heavily hyped and became a blockbuster upon its release. Shahenshah was made on a budget of Rs. 1.5 Crore and collected more than Rs. 6 Crore at the Box-Office. Amar Biswas & Utpal Biswas composed the music for Shahenshah and the songs became extremely popular on the movie's release. The song 'Jaane Do Jaane Do Mujhe Jaana Hai' starring Meenakshi and Big B was one of the most popular songs of that year.
Ganga Jamuna Saraswati & Other Movies:
After the mega success of Shahenshah, Meenakshi Seshadri featured in various films with Amitabh Bachchan. She featured opposite hik in Toofan, Akayla and Gangaa Jamunaa Saraswati but all 3 movies failed at the box-office. Though the movie bombed at the box-office, Anu Malik's music in Ganga Jamunaa Saraswati is still considered to be one of his best. Meenakshi is still remembered for the song "Saajan Mera Us Paar Hai" which was sun by melody queen Lata Mangeshkar. Meenakshi's other successful movies in the 80s included Aag Se Khelenge, Meri Jung, Awaargi and Ghar Ho Toh Aisa but the rest like Love Marriage, Amba, Joshilaay, Vijay and Humlaa were box office duds.
Mahesh Bhatt's Awaargi:
Directed by Mahesh Bhatt and starring Anil Kapoor, Meenakshi Sheshadri and Govinda, Awaargi was released in 1990. The film is considered to have featured Anil Kapoor's and Meenakshi Sheshadri's best performances. Anu Malik composed the music for the film and the songs were immensely popular. Sung by Lata Mangeshkar, the song 'Baali Umar Ne Mera Haal Jo Kiya' was considered to be the best in the Album. The movie contained serious and realistic content like other Mahesh Bhatt movies and belongs to the arthouse cinematic genre, known in India as parallel cinema.
Mahesh Bhatt's Jurm and the Superhit Song 'Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaaye':
After the success of Awaargi, Mahesh Bhatt decided to cast Meenakshi once again in Jurm opposite Vinod Khanna. Salman Khan's father Salim Khan wrote the story and script. The film was a critical and commercial success. Meenakshi Sheshadri received her first nomination for the Filmfare Award for best actress for her role in the film Jurm. Copycat music composer 'Rajesh Roshan' lifted the tune of popular English song '500 Miles' and created the Bollywood version of thaat song. The song 'Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaaye' is said to be one of the best songs in Indian Cinema. Honestly we don't care even if it was copied, it certainly sounded better than the original song and was beautifully sung by Kumar Sanu & Sadhna Sargam.
Meenakshi Sheshadri appeared opposite Sunny Deol in Ghayal, one of the most remarkable movies in Indian Cinema. Directed by Rajkumar Santoshi, the movie was released in 1990. Made on a budget of Rs. 1.75 Crore, the movie went on to collect a whopping Rs. 19 Crore at the box-office. Music was composed by Bappi Lahiri. The song "Sochna Kya, Jo Bhi Hoga Dekha Jaayega" sung by Kumar Sanu, Shabbir Kumar and Asha Bhosle was copied from Llorando se fue which was later made popular by Lambada.
In 1993, Meenakshi Sheshadri appeared in the woman centric film Damini – Lightning. Directed by Rajkumar Santoshi, the movie also starred Rishi Kapoor, Sunny Deol, Amrish Puri, Tinnu Anand, and Paresh Rawal. It had a sensitive subject of injustice towards a rape victim. The movie received many awards including a National Film Award. Meenakshi Sheshadri was nominated for a Filmfare Award for her role in the film Damini. Meenakshi was pitted against Juhi Chawla for Hum Hai Rahi Pyaar Ke, Madhuri Dixit for Khalnayak, Sridevi for Gumrah and Dimple Kapadia for Rudaali. The award went to Juhi Chawla for Hum Hai Rahi Pyaar Ke. Damini is regarded as Seshadri's career defining role.
Her Last Film Ghatak and Marriage:
Meenakshi played the female lead in the 1996 film, Ghatak opposite Sunny Deol. It was directed by Rajkumar Santoshi and became one of the highest-grossing films of that year. This was her last film. After this film, she got married and settled in the United States. Meenakshi Seshadri now successfully runs her own dance school in Dallas, USA and it is called "Cherish Institute of Dance". Besides running a dance school in US a documentary film was made on her life by Margret Stephens called 'Meenakshi Accept Her Wings' the two-hour musical documentary depicts the transitional lifestyle of dancer, actress to a homemaker. The movie tells about her life after movies and marriage. Meenakshi made a rare appearance in Mumbai in 2015. She made it a point to visit her friend Rishi Kapoor. Rishi Kapoor couldn't recognize her for she met her after a long time. She still looks fit and extremely beautiful. She has aged very gracefully and we would love to see her back in Bollywood in some good roles suitable to her age or as a judge on Dance Reality Shows in India. Watch her interview from 2015.