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SHANTA APTE (1916-1964)

Shanta Apte was an actor in Marathi cinema. Born in Dudhni, Maharashtra, Shanta Apte grew up in Pandharpur and learned singing from a young age.

She began her career in Marathi cinema with Shyamsunder in 1932, and for a time she was the highest paid female screen star in Marathi-language cinema. She also broke into Hindi cinema a few years later, making Amrit Manthan in 1934, and made her name with V. Shantaram’s Dunia Na Mane in 1937, a paradigm-breaking film about a young girl, Nirmala, played by Shanta. Nirmala, an orphan, is given in marriage to a rich old man, played by Keshavrao Date, who has lost his first wife. She rebels and refuses to sleep with him. She gets him to see the wrong he has done her, and in the end he feels remorse and commits suicide. In his suicide note, he advises her to remarry, as the life of a widow is worse than a bad marriage. In the film, Shanta sang a version of H.W. Longfellow’s ‘Psalm of Life’.

In the same year she acted in Kunku, and films came her way frequently through the 1940s. Her last film was Ram Bhakta Vibhishan in 1958. She sang her own songs, as most stars of the time did. Her autobiography in Marathi is called Jau Mi Cinemat.
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