15 August 1947
(m. 1963; div. 1965)
Raakhee Gulzar (born Raakhee Majumdar on 15 August 1947) professionally known as Raakhee, is an Indian actress who has appeared in Hindi and Bengali films. In her four decades of acting, she has worked in more than 100 films. Raakhee has won several awards including two National Film Awards and three Filmfare Awards. In 2003, she received Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian award.
Raakhee made her film debut with the Bengali film Badhu Bharan (1967). She had her first Hindi film with Jeevan Mrityu (1970). Raakhee's career marked a turning point with Aankhon Aankhon Mein (1972), Daag: A Poem of Love (1973), for which she won her first Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress, and 27 Down (1974). She won her first and only Filmfare Award for Best Actress for Tapasya (1976). She went on to establish herself as one of the leading actresses of Hindi cinema with films like - Kabhi Kabhie (1976), Doosra Aadmi (1977), Trishna (1978), Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978), Jurmana (1979), Shakti (1982), Ram Lakhan (1989), for which she won her second Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress, Baazigar (1993), Karan Arjun (1995), Border (1997), Ek Rishtaa: The Bond of Love (2001) and Shubho Mahurat (2003). For the last of these, she won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Raakhee married poet, lyricist and author Gulzar in 1973 with whom she has a daughter, writer and director Meghna Gulzar. In 2022, she was placed in Outlook India's 75 Best Bollywood Actresses list.
Raakhee was born in a Bengali family at Ranaghat in the Nadia district of West Bengal in the early hours of 15 August 1947, just hours after the independence of India. She received her early education in a local girls' school. Her father had a flourishing shoe business in his native village of Kushtia located in Meherpur, East Bengal which was then a part of Nadia district of undivided India (modern-day Bangladesh), before the partition of India, and thereafter he settled in West Bengal. Whilst still a teenager, Raakhee had an arranged marriage to Bengali journalist/film director Ajay Biswas, which ended shortly afterwards.
At the start of her film career, she dropped her surname and was mentioned in film credits only as "Raakhee", by which name she attained stardom, but upon marrying lyricist-director, Sampooran Singh Kalra professionally known as Gulzar, she took his pen name as her surname and is credited thereafter as Raakhee Gulzar.
In 1967, the 20-year-old Raakhee acted in her first Bengali film Bodhu Boron and Baghini, after which she was offered the lead role in Rajshri Productions' crime thriller Jeevan Mrityu (1970) opposite Dharmendra.
In 1971, Raakhee played a double role opposite Shashi Kapoor in the musical romance Sharmeelee, and also starred in the dramas Lal Patthar and Paras; all three films emerged as commercial successes and she established herself as a leading actress of Hindi Cinema. Shehzada (1972) opposite Rajesh Khanna and Aankhon Aankhon Mein (1972) opposite a relative newcomer Rakesh Roshan showcased her comic abilities, though their box office returns was unsatisfactory. She continued to display versatility even in relatively small roles in the romances Heera Panna (1973) and Daag: A Poem of Love (1973), with her strong performances, earning her first Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress for the latter. The phenomenal success of Rajshri Productions' Tapasya (1976), a heroine-dominated film where she played the sacrificing sister opposite Parikshit Sahni. established her as a box-office name to reckon with, and earned Raakhee her first and only Filmfare Award for Best Actress. She regards her performances in Blackmail (1973), Tapasya and Aanchal (1980) as her best.
Raakhee starred with Dev Anand in Heera Panna, Banarasi Babu (1973), Joshila (1973) and Lootmaar (1980). She starred opposite Shashi Kapoor in 10 released films: Sharmeelee, Jaanwar Aur Insaan (1972), Kabhie Kabhie (1976), Doosra Aadmi (1977), the critically acclaimed Trishna (1978), Baseraa (1981), Bandhan Kuchchey Dhaagon Ka (1983), Zameen Aasmaan (1984), and Pighalta Aasman (1985) and the unreleased Ek Do Teen Chaar. Her exemplary chemistry with Amitabh Bachchan was showcased in eight films: Kabhie Kabhie, Muqaddar Ka Sikander (1978), Kasme Vaade (1978), Trishul (1978), Kaala Patthar (1979), Jurmana (1979), Barsaat Ki Ek Raat (1981), and Bemisal (1982). In some films such as Jurmana, her name is even credited ahead of the hero. She also formed a popular pair with Sanjeev Kumar in films like Hamare Tumhare (1979) and Shriman Shrimati (1982).
In 1981, a 23-year-old aspiring director Anil Sharma asked her to star in an out-and-out female oriented role in his debut film Shradhanjali. After the success of the film, Raakhee was flooded by strong heroine-dominated roles. At the peak of her career as a popular heroine, she surprised everyone by accepting strong character roles as sister-in-law to Rajesh Khanna in Aanchal, Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh in Shaan (1980), Mithun Chakraborty in Dhuan (1981), and mother to Amitabh in Shakti and Rishi Kapoor in Yeh Vaada Raha (1982). She also starred in several Bengali films at the time, with Paroma (1984) earning her the Bengal Film Journalists' Association Award for Best Actress (Hindi).
Towards the late 1980s, 1990s and 2000's, she played strong character roles as the elderly mother or a woman of principles in commercially successful films such as Ram Lakhan (1989), Anari (1993), Khalnayak (1993), Baazigar (1993), Karan Arjun (1995), Border (1997), Soldier (1998), Ek Rishtaa: The Bond of Love (2001) and Dil Ka Rishta (2002). In 2003, she appeared in Rituparno Ghosh's mystery thriller Shubho Mahurat, which earned her the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress. In a 2012 interview, she said that her favourite heroes were Rajesh Khanna and Shashi Kapoor.
In 2019, Kolkata International Film Festival the film Nirbon directed by Goutam Halder was premiered, where Raakhee portrayed the role of Bijolibala, a 70 year old lady with a strong conviction. "Doing films is not on my agenda right now, but the story fascinated me" said Raakhee said about the adaptation of Moti Nandi's novel Bijolibalar Mukti.
Raakhee has a range of diverse experiences in various activities she has been associated with in the film industry. On several occasions, she extended her contributions beyond acting and delved into various other field of activities, some of which include costume designing (Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha (1998)) and dress assistance (Dil Kya Kare (1999)). In 1982, she lent her voice for the film Taaqat in the song "Teri Nindiya Ko Lag Jaaye Aag Re" sung alongside with Kishore Kumar.
In her second marriage, Raakhee married film director, poet and lyricist Gulzar. The couple have a daughter, Meghna Gulzar. When their daughter was only one year old, they separated. After completing her graduation in films from New York University, Meghna went on to become a director of films including Filhaal... (2002), Just Married (2007) and Dus Kahaniyaan (2007), and authored a biography of her father in 2004.
At one point, Raakhee stayed in her bungalow, "Muktangan" (bought from the Marathi playwright P. L. Deshpande), on Sarojini Road in Khar, Mumbai. Later, she sold the property and moved to an apartment two buildings away, though the new highrise is still called by the same name, as she had wished. "My mother has lived her professional and personal life with tremendous dignity and grace", said Meghna Gulzar, daughter of Raakhee, in an interview. Presently, she lives in recluse in her farmhouse at Panvel on the outskirts of Mumbai, spending time in tending to a huge flock of animals, growing vegetables and reading books.
Main article: Rakhee Gulzar filmography
|2003||Padma Shri||Contribution in the field of Arts||Honoured|||
|1972||Filmfare Awards||Best Actress||Aankhon Aankhon Mein||Nominated|||
|1973||Best Supporting Actress||Daag: A Poem of Love||Won|
|1976||Best Actress||Kabhi Kabhie||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|1985||Best Supporting Actress||Saaheb||Nominated|||
|1974||National Film Awards||Special Souvenir||27 Down||Won|||
|2003||Best Supporting Actress||Shubho Mahurat||Won|||
|1973||Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards||Best Supporting Actress (Hindi)||Daag||Won|||
|1984||Best Actress (Hindi)||Paroma||Won|