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Raakhee Gulzar Makes A Comeback After 16 Years

Raakhee Gulzar

 Raakhee Gulzar  the legendary actress  who ruled Hindi and Bengali cinema  for  more  than 25 years with memorable performances  in   a slew  of films in  both the languages  was  last seen  in Rituparno Ghosh’s whodunit Shubho Mahurat  in 2003.

And  now she is back on the screen  with a Bengali film Gautam Haldar’s Nirbaan.It was screened  on November 9 as part  of  the  Kolkata International Film festival.

Says  the forthright  actress, “The  film has been ready  for some  time now. I’ve no idea why its release  is delayed. But it’s a very relevant  subject. We’ve made it  in Bengali and Hindi.”

 It was a  triumphant  homecoming for veteran  actress Raakhee Gulzar when she touched down on Kolkata  on November  8 as a special  guest at  the  Kolkata International  Film festival.

Shockingly, Raakheeji whose  breathtaking  beauty  inspired  Sahir Ludhianvi to  write the lines Kabhi  kabhi mere  dil mein khayaal aata hai ke jaise tujhko banaya gaya hai mere liye,   reveals  that she has never been invited by  Festival before. “This is  the 25th  year  of existence  for  the Kolkata  Film Festival. Not once  did they  invite me before this . This is the first  invitation I’ve got and that  too  because  Mamtaji(Bengal’s  chief minister Mama Bannerjee)  wanted me to be honoured.I said  yes because of her.”

The  honorary function  went swimmingly with  Bengal’s chief minister  ensuring her presence throughout.

Says  Raakheeji  appreciatively, “She  was  giving instructions  about the Bengal  cylone on the phone  while attending the function to  honour me. She is a wonderful person ,much misunderstood and  vilified for being a powerful woman.”

Shah  Rukh Khan was also present  at  the function to honour  Raakheeji.

Says  the veteran actress fondly, “Shah Rukh  is very fond  of both me  and Mamtaji. Ever since  I played his  mother  in Baazigar and Karan Arjun he has been very close to me.And he hasn’t changed one  bit over the years. He held my hand and  greeted me  with the same  warmth.”

Raakheedi invited Shah  Rukh to accompany her  on  stage. “On stage I made him recite two lines from Rabindranath Tagore’s  O Amar Desher which talks about bowing one’s head to one’s motherland. Shah  Rukh recited the  lines like a  Bengali.”

So her fans  have something to look forward  to?

She laughs her throaty laughter. “Fans?  I don’t think anyone even remembers  me today. Time has moved on. The young audience today is  not familiar with my work…or maybe they know Kabhi Kabhie, Paroma and a  few others.”

Any unfulfilled wishes? “Yes, I  always wanted to work with Tapan Sinha. According to me he is the  best  filmmaker Bengal has ever  produced. So  progressive, so ahead  of  his times.It was my misfortune that  I  never  got a chance  to work with him.”

Working with Rituparno Ghosh  was  also a  pleasure. “He was  very very good with women  characters.In fact  I recommended Ritu to Aishwarya Rai when she was  considering Chokher Bali. It is sad that he  died so  young. He  was  the  most powerful emerging  voice  of Bengali cinema.”

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