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The actress who reigned hearts with her nonpareil persona: Rakhee Gulzar

AN ELGIN EXCLUSIVE FEATURE

The hazel-eyed glinting charisma, the one that reigned transcendent in the Hindi cinema in the ’70s and ’80s- Rakhee Gulzar. The ever-elegant and gracious actress of Indian film encompassed a career more than four decades, acted in several of the fav Bollywood and Bengali films of all time with many power-packed performances. 

Image by Republic World 

The hazel-eyed glinting charisma, the one that reigned transcendent in the Hindi cinema in the ’70s and ’80s- Rakhee Gulzar. 

Ever since inception, the Bollywood industry has spawned a wealth of superstars. Certain reach the apex, bask in splendor, and endure to be heroes. Others glisten through, but do so detachedly, perhaps consciously. ‘Rakhee’, as she was lauded in all her movies, pertains to the latter type. Routing from a Bengali family and being a daughter of a businessman, it was tough to create it big in the film industry. Nonetheless, she was an unintentional actor who rose to fame during Bollywood’s golden age. 

Her talent paved the foundation for her debut Bengali film “Badhu Baran” in 1967 at the age of 20. Initial roles did not contribute into stardom for her, as they did for most other well-known Bollywood actors. Rakhee ultimately got her big break three years into her adventure with the film Jeevan Mrityu. The movie, wherein she starred beside Dharmendra, was a smash blockbuster, and she soared to fame. As a reward, the brilliant actor went on to star in a string of hits, notably Sharmilee, Lal Pathhar, Daag, and Heera Panna. Kabhie Kabhie, featuring Amitabh Bachchan, a standout, and the dynamic duo also collaborated on Muqaddar Ka Sikander, Kaala Pathhar, and Lawaaris. Tapasya, Daag, Kasme Vaade, and Trishul are also some of the other outstanding flicks. 

Image by Bolly 

A snap from the epic song- Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein, starring the dynamic duo-Amitabh Bacchan and Rakhee Gulzar. 

She also made appearances in iconic Bollywood songs, like Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein, Khilte Hain Gul Yahan, Jhilmil Sitaron Ka Angan Hoga, O Meri Sharmilee, Mere Angne Me, and plenty more. You could listen to the finest Rakhee melodies and it’ll take you back in the time. 

Rakhee, born free with a mind of own, was never reluctant to act as a mother in a series of movies, which was exceptional for actresses in the 1990s. She’s perhaps the only actress who has appeared with Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Dev Anand, and Shashi Kapoor, along with Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Anil Kapoor, Akshay Kumar, and others in the golden era. During the 1990s, she was renowned for her performances in blockbusters like Karan Arjun, Baazigar, Border, Ram Lakhan, and Khal-Nayak. She has appeared in a few Bollywood and Bengali films of her choice since 2000.  

Rakhee has garnered numerous honors, plaudits, and accolades throughout her acting career. In 2003, she received multiple Filmfare Awards, National Film Awards, and not to forget, a Padma Shri Award. 

A shot from the renowned song- ‘Apne Pyar Ke’ from Barsat Ki Ek Raat. 

Rakhee was born in Ranaghat in the Nadia district of West Bengal and has spent most of her time in the city, Kolkata. She takes pride in knowing the city the best- “I have lived in Calcutta… I know all the roads here. I am very good in geography. You can leave me in the middle of a road here and I will be able to find my way back.” Shoots allowed her to explore Darjeeling and Kalimpong even more. Remember the song “Apne Pyar ke” from Barsat Ki Ek Raat? Anusondhan was the Bengali title for this film. Some of the sequences in this film starring Amitabh Bacchan and Rakhee Gulzar were filmed in Darjeeling villages. It’s such a joy to watch the movie and get a glimpse of the lovely Himalayan villages.  

Image by Telegraph India 

The 74-year-old, Rakhee Gulzar, has always chosen the paths of her life and the charisma still remains to steal the hearts all over again. 

As for Rakhee’s life events, she married a Bengali film director, Ajay Biswas. Their marriage, alas, was short-lived. She wedded Gulzar, a prominent poet, lyricist, and film director, in 1973. Meghna Gulzar, the couple’s daughter, is also a Bollywood film director. Rakhee presently lives as a recluse in Mumbai, doing the things she adores – reading books, caring for pets, and nurturing plants in her sprawling farmhouse, that is accessible to the public. However, she misses the warmth she receives in Kolkata- The best thing about Bengal is that the people here make you feel like you are one of them. They welcome you so well.” She added, “in Mumbai, they give me respect by calling me aunty or ji. Here, people respect each other by calling kaka, dada, didi. This kind of respect I don’t get anywhere.” Rakhee, as already said, has always forged her own course. She had her moments of brilliance, and she is now content to do what she loves.