Nirmala Devi or Nirmala Arun was a Hindustani classical vocalist of the Patiala Gharana and an Indian film actress in the 1940s. Belonging to one of Varanasi’s extremely cultured family she learned fine arts, dancing and singing. Tutored under Ustad Atta Khan, Nirmala Devi carved a niche in the Hindustani Light Classical Music world. Nirmala Devi started her career as playback singer in Indian cinema and is well remembered for her work in the 1972 movie Bawarchi, Ram Teri Ganga Maili in1985 and Shama Parwana in 1954.
Nirmala Devi was married to Arun Kumar Ahuja, popular Indian actor of 1940s. It was in 1942 when she debuted in 'Savera', the same year she got married to Arun Kumar Ahuja who was the hero of the film. The couple was blessed with 2 sons and 4 daughters.
Nirmala Devi breathed her last on 15 June 1996 in Mumbai.
Nirmala Arun or Nirmala Devi born on the 7th of June 1927, hailed from the quaint city of Banares (present Varanasi). Shrimati Kusum Devi, her mother, belonged to a small place in Faizabad called Shahganj and was a home-maker while her father belonged to the prosperous Gaharwar Rajput Clan and was a jeweler by profession. Nirmala Devi had 9 brothers and 2 sisters.
Nirmala at a very tender age of fifteen accompanied her father to Mumbai to record her first album with the popular music company of that time HMV (His Master’s Voice). She also has worked for Doordarshan and All India Radio.
Nirmala Devi got married to actor Arun Ahuja in the year 1941. The couple was blessed with five children including Bollywood star Govinda and director Kirti Kumar. Nirmala began her acting career with the film ‘Savera’ with husband Arun Ahuja as co-star.
Nirmala Devi belonged to the Patiala Gharana and Ustad Atta Khan was her mentor and guru. Blessed with a melodious voice, Nirmala Devi is often referred to as the ‘Queen of Thumris’. Her creativity and talent gave her the scope of being a playback singer in a number of movies like RamTeri Ganga Maili in 1985, Bawarchi in 1972 and Zara Bachke in 1959. However, her life completely changed when her husband Arun Ahuja decided to produce a film. The only film he produced flopped at the box office and they suffered a huge financial loss. Things got worse and they had to shift from their bungalow in Mumbai to a Chawl in Virar. Her husband’s health failed unable to bear the loss. Since her husband was unable to work, Nirmala Devi soon realized that she had to do something extraordinary to support her family.
Nirmala Devi started singing on Doordarshan and All India Radio with renewed fervor. Being a well-known exponent of Hindustani Classical Music, Nirmala held her concerts all over the country. Her rapturous Thumris, Kajris and Dadras regaled the music lovers. Some of her well known songs include “Ro Ro Raina Gavaye’, “Tumhare Karan Saba Sukh Chod “and “Sawan Bitha Jai”.
Nirmala Devi also worked as a playback singer in several Hindi movies including Savera (1942), Sharda, Kanoon, Geet, Gaali, Sehra, Janamashtami, Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985), Bawarchi (1972), Zara Bachke (1959) and Shama Parwana (1954). Nirmala Devi also released albums on her Thumris and Ghazals and these include Banaa Banaa Ke Tamanaa & Gham Ki Nishani (Ghazal), Jaadu Bhare Tore Nainava Ram , Mori Baali Umar Beeti Jaye (Thumri) , Weekend Pleasure (Thumri) , Thumriyan by Nirmala Devi (Thumri), Laakhon Ke Bol Sahe (Thumri) and Ghazals by Nirmala Devi (Ghazal).
Ill Health and Death:
Nirmala Devi suffered from stomach cancer and she breathed her last on 15 June 1996. She was 69 years at the time of her demise.
Wishes and Words:
"I was not prepared and did not know how to live without her. I really struggled, but God helped me. Mummy had given me a Guru Mantra with the help of which I got okay and could come out of depression and I got to understand many things. Today, I feel she has come into me."
Sons: Govinda and Kirti Kumar
Daughter: Kaamini Khanna
Grandchildren: Narmmadaa, Yashvardhan, Krushna Abhishek, Ragini Khanna and Tina Ahuja
(FAN OF Shrimati NIRMALA DEVI)
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