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Known for her western beauty and anglicised accent, Priya Rajvansh has done only a handful of films, most notably Haqeeqat(1964), Heer Raanjha (1970) and Hanste Zakhm (1973).
Priya Rajvansh was born in Shimla as "Vera Sunder Singh" on December 30, 1936, in the family of Sunder Singh, a Conservator in the Forest Department. Rajvansh gets her early education from Auckland House and the Convent of Jesus and Mary, Shimla. Her academic journey continued at St. Bede's College, Shimla, and later at Bhargava Municipal College (BMC). It was during this time that she started acting in English plays at Shimla's Gaiety Theatre. In Shimla, "Vera" was already a celebrity due to her looks and lifestyle. Vera went on to join the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, where her father was on a UN assignment.
A photograph taken by a London photographer catches the eye of Thakur Ranveer Singh, a film personality working in Indian and British films, which led to her introduction to Chetan Anand, who became her mentor and Changed her name to "Priya Rajvansh" for her film debut. The 1964, marks the beginning of her film career with the critically acclaimed war film 'Haqeeqat', directed by Chetan Annad and starring Dharmendra and Vijay Anand. Her acting was good but she was criticised for her very bad Hindi dialogue delivery. It was due to her background and education in English medium schools, English theatre and her training at RADA.
Chetan Anand who was separated from her first wife, began a relationship with young Priya Rajvansh, who was very much awestruck and impressed by the intellect of the much older man. The couple was madly in love with each other, she only acted in films made by Anand, and he always made films with her doing the lead. Eventually, they started living together and remained with each other til the death of Chetan on 6 July 1997.
Her notable works include 'Heer Raanjha' (1970), where she starred opposite Raaj Kumar, and 'Hanste Zakhm' (1973), which many consider the pinnacle of her career. Other significant films were 'Hindustan Ki Kasam' (1973), 'Saheb Bahadur'(1977) with Dev Anand, 'Kudrat' (1981), and her final film, 'Haathon Ki Lakeeren' (1986) with Sanjeev Kumar.
After the demise of Chetan Anand, she was named a beneficiary in the will of Chetan Anand along with his sons from his first marriage, and inherited some property from Chetan. Priya Rajvansh was brutally murdered in Chetan Anand's Ruia Park bungalow in Juhu, Mumbai on March 27, 2000, in Mumbai. Her tragic end sent shockwaves through the film industry and her fans. Two sons Ketan Anand and Vivek Anand along with their employees Mala Choudhary and Ashok Chinnaswamy were charged with her murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in July 2002 but got bail in November 2002.
Priya's story is more dramatic and tragic than any film, from a loving childhood to a dream debut and finding love to a tragic death, she saw it all.
Despite her anglicised accent and Western femininity, which were not widely embraced by the Indian audience, Rajvansh's talent was undeniable. She remains the only Indian actress to have graduated from RADA and is remembered for her haunting beauty and memorable films along with her tragic end.
Rest In Peace.IMG_7677


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