Mumbai, July 28 (IANS) Known as much for her roles in classics like 'Anuradha' and 'The Householder' as for her ageless elegance, Leela Naidu died here Tuesday after a prolonged illness. She was 69.
Born to an Irish mother and an Indian father, Leela Naidu was crowned Miss India in 1954. Vogue had also named her as one of the 10 most beautiful women in the world along with Maharani Gayatri Devi.
She forayed into films with Hrishikesh Mukherjee's 1960 'Anuradha' as the bored housewife married to an idealistic doctor played by Balraj Sahni. The film didn't do well at the box office, but got the National Award for best film.
In 1962, Leela Naidu was seen in 'Ummeed'. But it was her role in 'Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke' (1963) that got her fame and popularity. Directed by R.K. Nayyar, the movie was based on the K.M. Nanavati vs State of Maharashtra court case. She teamed up with Sunil Dutt in the movie.
In the same year, she was offered a role in the first Merchant Ivory Production 'The Householder', which was directed by James Ivory.
After a guest appearance in 'The Guru' in 1969, she bid adieu to films to marry, and later divorce, businessman Tikki Oberoi. She later tied the knot with poet Dom Moraes, her childhood sweetheart.
In 1985, she made a comeback on silver screen as a Goan matriarch in Shyam Benegal's 'Trikaal' and later featured in director Pradip Krishen's 1992 movie 'Electric Moon'.