From being a teen bride to ruling the silver screen in the 70s, Rakhee has had a fascinating career graph. She has battled bad marriages, alcoholism and many controversies but finally emerged as one of Bollywood's finest actresses.
Her hazel eyes, porcelain skin and unique voice made Rakhee one of the most beautiful and talented actress of her time. With 16 Filmfare nominations, she even holds the record for being the most 'nominated' actresses ever. But it's the way she has triumphed over obstacles – personal and professional – that makes her so special. Masala! takes a look at the actress's extraordinary life.
Life as a refugee
Rakhee was born on the day India attained independence – August 15, 1947 – in Ranaghat, a tiny village in West Bengal. But the actress doesn't give too much importance to the date. "I could have been born on August 13 or 14. For me, every day is a good day. Of course, it is a very significant day for our country," she says.
Her father had a flourishing shoe business but the family faced tough times when, after partition, their hometown became part of East Pakistan (modern day Bangladesh). Her family then moved to West Bengal to begin life afresh.
"My family was struggling to start a new life," reveals Rakhee about her childhood. "The situation was not very encouraging for refugees like us. The only thing I remember is my father tuning in to the radio every day. He used to do it religiously and I did the same too."
The child bride
An Unhappy Marriage
While she was still a teenager, Rakhee had an arranged marriage with journalist-turned-Bengali filmmaker, Ajay Biswas. "When I married Ajay, I did not know the meaning of marriage or love," she recalls. "I just knew that all girls got married and I had to do the same. It was an arranged marriage and it was doomed from the beginning."
How did Rakhee's first marriage finally end? What made her give love a second chance with Gulzar? Why did she become an alcoholic? What made her emerge from the darkness to embrace a glorious second innings in Bollywood? Find these answers and lots more only in the new issue of Masala! magazine.