Date of Birth
7 January 1957, Bombay, India
5' 4" (1.63 m)
Reena Roy was a famous leading lady of Hindi films from 1972-1985. She came from a broken home, a Muslim father and Hindu mother, who separated after having four children together. Reena is their third child, and she started films in her early teens to support her mother and siblings. Her career in films started off inauspiciously with B.R. Ishara's "Nayi Duniya Naye Log" (1973) with another newcomer Danny Denzongpa, which was shelved temporarily. Undeterred, B.R. Ishara cast both actors again in "Zaroorat" (1972), along with another newcomer Vijay Arora, and the racy film became a hit. Reena was now called the "Zaroorat Girl." Yet, she struggled for the next four years in B films that had feeble scripts and faltering leading men. The bright spot during this period came with her lively performance in Jaise Ko Taisa (1973), and her rain-soaked song "Abke Sawan" with Jeetendra raised temperatures. She had to wait two more years for another break. At the outset "Kalicharan" (1975) didn't seem like it had the makings of a hit. Subhash Ghai, a failed actor, was making his directorial debut, and Shatrugan Sinha, an actor known for his villainous roles, was making his first mark as a hero. But the film defied everyone's expectations and became a surprise hit, and Reena as Shatrugan's love interest got attention from audiences and from Shatrugan himself. They became a off-screen pair as well, and they signed several films together. She also made several films with Sunil Dutt, including hit films like "Zakhmee" (1975). The successes of "Zakhmee" and "Kalicharan" led to her star vehicle Nagin (1976). Playing the title role of the deadly 'nagin', she avenges the death of her lover by ruthlessly murdering five leading male-stars. The film became a huge hit, and Reena received her first Filmfare nomination as Best Actress. She was now one of the top heroines in Hindi films. Inspired by its success, the director, Raj Kumar Kohli, looked no further for the heroine of his next star-studded horror movie, Jaani Dushman (1979). Thereafter, the Kohli-Roy combination continued to give Bollywood cinema some its greatest multi-starrer blockbusters, including Muqabla (1979), Badle Ki Aag (1982), and Raaj Tilak (1984).
Reena Roy-Shatrugan Sinha became a famous team after "Kalicharan," and had delivered yet another blockbuster thriller, Vishwanath (1978). But it was Reena's chemistry with Jeetendra in marital dramas like Badaltey Rishtey (1978) and Pyaasa Sawan (1982) that set her career soaring. The duo produced three of their greatest classics together - Apnapan (1977), Aasha (1980) and Arpan (1983). Reena's poignant dance in "Aasha" to the melody of "Shisha Ho Yah Dil Ho" immortalized her as an icon of desire and tragedy. Her dark-shaded role in "Apnapan," as the selfish gold-digger that abandons her husband and child, won her the Best Supporting Actress Filmfare Award, beating out icons Nutan and Asha Parekh. (This was the precursor to the type of role that Meryl Streep played two years later in "Kramer vs. Kramer" (1979)). As legend has it, she rejected the Award on basis that she is the heroine of the film, not the supporting actress! And finally, her screen image as a sacrificing symbol of Indian womanhood is glorified in the immensely popular, "Arpan."
After the box office success of "Aasha," for which she received her second Filmfare nomination as Best Actress, Reena Roy entered the 1980's as a leading lady in demand, securing herself critical roles with phenomenal superstars like Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra and Vinod Khanna. She is the defiant widow who reforms the egotistical Rajesh Khanna of Dhanwan (1981); the beautiful 'actress' that dies on stage performing her last 'mujra' for Dharmendra in Naukar Biwi Ka (1983); and the talented psychiatrist determined to cure Vinod Khanna in the comical, Jail Yatra (1981). Top directors like Prakash Mehra, Raj Khosla and Sultan Ahmad grabbed her for crucial roles. But the jewel in the crown came in the form of Manmohan Desai's grand extravaganza, Naseeb (1981), where she stole scenes in a star-studded cast that had the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, and of course, Shatrugan Sinha. Her off-screen relationship with Shatrugan would end and he would marry someone else shortly after.
Reena Roy concentrated on her career, as she was providing Hema Malini and Rekha stiff competition for the No. 1 position by the early 1980s. In 1982 alone, she had thirteen releases, by far more than any of her rivals. She was now demanding equal footing with Hema, and effectively stealing the show from Rekha in emotional melodramas like Prem Tapasya (1983) and Asha Jyoti (1984). Her characters became more versatile, as did her dances, as she effortlessly shifted from classical 'natyam' (Rocky (1981)) to "Disco Station" (Hathkadi (1982)). The sophisticated, glamorous model of Karishmaa (1984) was equally seductive as the village belle of Dharam Kanta (1982). Her profile was further enhanced with an extraordinary double role in the Muslim social, Ladies Tailor (1981), opposite the talented Sanjeev Kumar.
At the pinnacle of her popularity, Reena's dormant desire to prove herself found expression in a number of female-oriented films. Enacting the role of a tormented 'bahu' in Sau Din Saas Ke (1980), she defies conventions to oppose her tyrant mother-in-law. With an author-backed role in Bezubaan (1982), she gives a realistic portrayal of a woman whose past returns to threaten her present married life. But it was Roy's presentation, Lakshmi (1982) that glorified the presence of Reena Roy in Bollywood cinema. Playing the role of a misfortunate 'tawaif', she dances to her never-ending tragedies. Reena, anguished by the commercial failure of Lakshmi, found solace in the sensational success of her other home production - the musical comedy, Sanam Teri Kasam (1982), opposite upcoming Kamal Hasan and produced by her sister Barkha Roy.
In 1983 - at the zenith of her stardom - Reena Roy decided to quit films to marry Pakistani cricketer, Mohsin Khan. Her last shooting was for Inteha (1984) - a tragedy, in which she is raped and tormented by Raj Babbar, crying out for help to the tune of Lut Gayi Main To Saiyan Lut Gayi. Despite its lack of widespread acceptance, Inteha is considered as Reena Roy's swan song. However, our last memories of Reena as a heroine, is as the struggling Moran of J.P. Dutta's war-torn Ghulami (1985).
The actress that played the role of a fairy to perfection in Rani Aur Lalpari (1975) soon realized the grim realities of the real world, as her marriage to Mohsin Khan disintegrated and she initially lost custody of her daughter Jannat, whom she lovingly calls Sanam. She returned to Bollywood in 1992, to be directed by none other than J Om Prakash, who gave her classics like Aasha, Apnapan and Arpan. In a pivotal 'bhabhi' role, Aadmi Khilona Hai (1993) greeted the arrival of the mature Reena Roy. Her significant weight gain and the insignificant roles that were to follow showed how unhappy Reena was. However, the bright spot came when Mohsin Khan, at the urging of his current wife, gave up custody of Jannat, and she came back to live with Reena. Reena and her sister Barkha decided to open an acting school in 2004. She has also ventured out into politics.