By Rishabh Naudiyal Last Updated:
Popular actress, Priya Rajvansh is one of the few actresses whose acting journey in the Indian film industry isn't as famous as her personal life because the tragic events that led to her ultimate demise still frighten people to this day. She had made her debut in the Hindi film industry with the film, Haqeeqat in 1964, but she is remembered for portraying the role of 'Heer' in her 1970 film, Heer Ranjha. However, not many are aware of the fact that Priya Rajvansh was in a live-in relationship with her mentor and partner, Chetan Anand, who was the brother of legendary actor, Dev Anand.
The age difference of 15 years was never a hindrance for the couple, as Priya Rajvansh and Chetan Anand were madly in love with each other. But the reason why their love story is famous goes to the bone-chilling fact that after Chetan's death, his sons, Ketan Anand and Vivek Anand, along with two people, had murdered Priya. Yes! Sadly, you read it right! Now today, we bring you Priya's close friend and screenwriter, Moin Beg's famous interview, in which he recalled her last years after her lover, Chetan's death. But before that, take a look at her background and childhood!
Born in the hills of Shimla, as Vera Sunder Singh, better known as Priya Rajvansh, had passed her intermediate from St. Bede's College in 1953 and joined Bhargava Municipal College (BMC). During this period, Priya had acted in several English plays in Shimla's noted Gaiety Theatre. Later, she joined the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, UK. A picture clicked by a photographer there somehow reached the Hindi film industry, and the rest is history.
From 1964 to 1986, Priya Rajvansh had acted in seven films and the ones that brought her some fame and success are Haqeeqat, Heer Ranjha, Hanste Zakhm, and Kudrat. So now, without further ado, let's jump into her last years through her close friend, Moin Beg's eyes!
In an interview with Filmfare back in 2018, screenwriter Moin Beg unfolded many complex pages of his close friend and late actress, Priya Rajvansh's life that was the epitome of pure love and hate. In his candid conversation, Moin had revealed almost everything about Priya and her eternal love, Chetan Anand's relationship. When he was asked to recall Priya's entrance into Chetan's life, the screenwriter revealed that Chetan Anand's wife, Uma Anand, brought Priya in his life. Recalling the same, he had said:
"Ironically, it was Umaji who was instrumental in bringing Priya into Chetan saab's life. Umaji saw Priya perform at a function in Chandigarh and gave her Chetan saab's card, asking her to contact him. But Priya went off to RADA in London to pursue acting. After she completed her course, Priya posted her pictures to Chetan saab, who was on the lookout for a fresh face to play Heer in Heer Ranjha. When he saw the pictures, he telegrammed her, 'Come to Bombay immediately!'"
Going further in the interview, Moin Beg had revealed that when Priya Rajvansh had come down to Bombay at Chetan Anand's request, unfortunately, the film, Heer Ranjha was pushed back a bit because of some unknown reasons. It was then when some serious cracks had started appearing in Chetan Anand and Uma Anand's marriage. Meanwhile, Priya had made her acting debut in the Indian cinema with the film, Haqeeqat. But, soon, Chetan got separated from his wife, Uma, because of incompatibility.
Although, the two never got divorced because, at that time, the law didn't permit divorce even by mutual consent of the partners. After their separation, Heer Ranjha's filming had started, and by the time the film got completed, Chetan and Priya were in love. In Moin Beg's words:
"Heer Ranjha went through some delay. So, she starred in Haqeeqat instead. Eventually, Chetan saab separated from Umaji. And by the time Heer Ranjha was completed, Priya and he (Chetan Anand) were close. She was in her 20s when they first met, he was 16 years her senior."
Moin Beg had also talked about Chetan Anand and Priya Rajvansh's live-in relationship and had highlighted the fact that Chetan was extremely dependent on Priya because of his sheer love for her. The screenwriter had also recalled how Chetan used to pamper her whenever she got upset with him. When Moin Beg was asked to define the kind of chemistry Chetan and Priya had, Moin had added that everything about their relationship was excellent because of their superb understanding. Moin Beg had retorted:
"He (Chetan Anand) was totally dependent on her, whether it was regarding the doctor or his scripts. They did have a lot of arguments. And when she got angry, she'd sulk. To pacify her, Chetan saab just had to say, 'Aur kya ho raha hai Bimbo (his pet name for her)?' And she'd start smiling. Chetan saab and Priya were at peace with each other. They had a fabulous understanding."
Everything was going incredibly well in Chetan Anand and his ladylove, Priya Rajvansh's life until July 6, 1997, when he had died due to unknown health-related issues at the age of 82 in Mumbai. The incident had shattered Priya's life, and things took an ugly turn between her and Chetan's sons, Ketan Anand and Vivek Anand, who were against their relationship right from the beginning. Recalling the same, Moin Beg had stated that after Chetan's demise, Priya had led a lonely life, and he was one of the few people with whom she used to talk. He had said:
"When Chetan Saab fell sick (he was asthmatic), she nursed him day and night. She was lonely after his demise. Things became a bit unpleasant between her and his sons (Ketan and Vivek Anand). Chetan saab had left the shack (Chetan saab's seaside bungalow at Ruia Park) to his two sons and Priya. She'd call me up every morning at 10.30 am and chat till 11.30 am even if we had met the night before. She'd say, 'Generally, people love to talk. But Moin you make for a good listener'."
Going further in the interview, Moin Beg had moved towards the final chapter of Priya Rajvansh and her eternal love, Chetan Anand's love story, as he had recalled the last evening before her death. The screenwriter had revealed that Priya had shown him bank papers of her properties and some of her ornaments. Recalling the same, he had stated:
"An evening before she died, she insisted I go to her home. She made me sit on the bed; pulled open her cupboard drawer, showed me where her bank papers, locker keys and will were kept. She asked me to bring down a porcelain Ganpati placed high on the wall unit. She asked me to turn its head around. It was a lid. Inside the Ganpati were kept her ornaments, which she wanted to be given to her brothers' children."
Unfolding the tragic day of Priya Rajvansh's death, her close friend, Moin Beg, had revealed that when he had heard about her death, he was shocked to the core of his soul and had become hysterical. With a heavy heart, he had revealed:
"On that fateful day, there was a Mumbai bandh. So I couldn't go to Chetan Anand's shack. She was supposed to spend the evening at her neighbour, the Maharani's (Brijraj Nandini Devi of Bhavnagar) home. But out of habit she went to the shack alone to have her first peg… and the rest is history. I was heartbroken and turned hysterical when I heard the news of her demise."
In another interview with Filmfare, Priya Rajvansh's neighbour, Maharani Samyukta Kumari, had revealed the tragedy that had unfolded on that fateful evening and had recalled each and every bit of it in her statement. She had explained:
"The evening she died, she was supposed to have a drink with us. But she didn't turn up at the time, which was strange. We sent the watchman to inquire. The maid said she'd be coming soon. But she didn't turn up. We sent him again and that's when the maid said she'd fainted. We ran across, my husband, my mother-in-law and me… and the drama unfolded."
In her interview, Maharani Samyukta Kumari had also dropped some heartbreaking truth bombs about Priya Rajvansh's life after her lover, Chetan Anand's demise. She had recalled an incident when Moin Beg had teased Priya for not changing her old handbag with a new one and how she was whatever she had till the end. Highlighting Priya's insecure life, Maharani Samyukta had retorted:
"After Chetanji's death she felt alone. She tried to smarten up her finances. She led a life, which was bordering on the frugal. Like Moin would sometimes joke, 'When will you change your handbag?' Whatever she had, she wanted to save. She felt insecure as she didn't have enough liquidity."
If it wasn't for her decision to work only in her eternal love, Chetan Anand's films, she would have had an illustrious career in Indian cinema. However, no stage of success had changed the fact that she had visited Chetan's mansion that evening, at the time, when she could've avoided it. But no matter how hard we try, life is all about the hits and misses!