New Delhi, India (BBN) – Veteran Indian actress Nanda died of a massive heart attack at her Mumbai home on Tuesday. She was 75.

The actress, who helped launch the careers of two of Hindi cinema’s successful stars — Rajesh Khanna and Shashi Kapoor — was briefly engaged to film producer Manmohan Desai in 1992 but he died two years later and she remained unmarried.

Her father was also an actor by the name Master Vinayak, and her mother was called Meenaxi. Nanda started her career at a very tender age of 8 when she lost her father. That is when her paternam uncle V Shantaram gave her a break in a successful brother-sister saga Toofan Aur Diya (1956).

The match was said to have been fixed by her close friend, the popular actress Waheeda Rehman, senior to her by two years. The two had worked together in Dev Anand’s Kaala Baazaar over 50 years ago.

Nanda is remembered for her roles in ‘Hum Dono’ and ‘Ittefaq,’ among others. She worked as a child artiste after her father’s demise and helped her family by taking up roles in films like ‘Jaggu’ in the early 1950s.

In 1957’s Bhabhi, co-starring Balraj Sahni, Nanda played the widowed sister of the protagonist and was nominated for a Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress. Two years later came the film that made her a star, Chhoti Bahen opposite Balraj Sahni. She was then cast in big movies like Hum Dono (1961) and Teen Deviyan (1965) opposite big heroes like Dev Anand.

The 1960’s Anchal fetched her the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress. She would later be nominated for Best Actress for 1969’s Ittefaq and twice again for Best Supporting Actress for Ahista Ahista (1981) and Prem Rog (1982).

In the 1960s, Nanda was among the top heroines in Bollywood with Nutan, Waheeda Rehman and Sadhana. Undeterred by her own stardom, Nanda helped launch the careers of at least two actors who later took their places among the pantheon of matinee idols — Shashi Kapoor and Rajesh Khanna.

Nanda co-starred with Shashi Kapoor before he was an actor of any great success and became a hit screen couple in films like Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965). Mr Kapoor has often named her his favourite co-star. In 1970, Nanda convinced The Train co-producer Rajendra Kumar — her co-star from Dhool Ka Phool and Kanoon — to cast the struggling Rajesh Khanna. The Train became a hit.

Her last public appearance was with Waheeda Rehman for the screening of Marathi film Natarang in 2010.

BBN/SSR/AD-26Mar14-8:45 pm (BST)