A beauty icon and Governor to two states of India

My mother’s classmate, Sharda Pandit (later Mukherjee), Bombay, Maharashtra. 1935

Image and Narrative contributed by Mrudula Prabhuram Joshi, Bombay

The beautiful woman seen here is Sharda Pandit, a scion of a Maharashtrian aristocratic family in the earlier half of the 20th century. She was born in Rajkot, Gujarat. She was hailed as the ‘Beauty Queen’ of Elphinstone College of Bombay, in fact of all collegians of the city; because Bombay (now Mumbai) had only three colleges at that time – Elphinstone, Wilson and St. Xavier’s.  She possessed a kind of serene beauty, singular charm and grace. Her contemporaries from other colleges would drop by just to have a glimpse of this icon of beauty. Not only was she beautiful to look at, she possessed a beautiful heart, too.

At that time, there were only a handful of women students in the colleges, most of whom were from middle class families. Sharda would get along amicably with everyone despite her wealthy family background. She acted as the heroine of several plays during the college years, for the Annual College Day functions.

Sharda and my mother, Kamini Vijaykar were classmates and that is how I came to know about her.

Later on, Sharda married Subroto Mukherjee, the first Air Chief Marshal of the Indian Air Force in 1939. After his untimely death in 1960, she devoted herself to social service and political activism. For some time, she was also the Governor of Andhra Pradesh from 1977-1978 and then the Governor of Gujarat from 1978 to 1983. She kept herself busy with several constructive activities. She was beyond 90 years of age when she passed away, but preserved her inner and outer beauty till the very last.


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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. An extract from ‘Down Melody Lane’ by the late G.N.Joshi, the pioneer of the ‘Marathi bhavgeet’ genre as well as the man who played a key role in getting the masters of Hindustani music to record for HMV:

    “Encouraged by the success of ‘Ghara Baher’, I recorded three more plays. One was ‘Sinhacha Chaayaa’ (The Lion’s Cub) by the late Mr.S.A.Shukla. The second was a parody of the famous play ‘Ekach Pyala’ entitled ‘Ekach Bar’. The characters in the parody were the same as those in the original play. I acted the role of Sudhakar, and Sindhu’s role was played by Sharada Pandit, then a college beauty (now Mr.Sharada Mukherjee, an ex-member of Parliament and currently goivernor of Gujarat).”

  2. Recently I discovered a rather fascinating connection of Sharada Pandit to the First Family of India, the Nehru-Gandhi Gharana. It turns out that Vijayalakshmi Pandit, younger sister of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, was married to Ranjit Pandit, an uncle of Sharada Pandit.

  3. i cant believe that a beautiful lady of old goldendays is our governor

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