Raakhee Mazumdar Gulzar (born 15 August 1947) is an Indian film actress, who has primarily appeared in Hindi films, as well as several Bengali films. She is popularly known as Raakhee Gulzar after her marriage to lyricist-director Gulzar. In four decades of acting, Raakhee won three Filmfare Awards and a National Film Award, among others. At the Filmfare, Raakhee has been nominated 16 times (8 for Best Actress and 8 for Best Supporting Actress), making her the overall most-nominated performer in the female acting categories.
Rakhee was born in Ranaghat, in the Nadia district of West Bengal, in the early hours of 15 August 1947, just hours after the declaration of independence of India. She received her early education in a local girls' school. Her father, who had a flourishing shoe business, was uprooted from his native village in East Pakistan, modern-day Bangladesh, during the partition and thereafter he settled in West Bengal.
While still a teenager, Raakhee had an arranged marriage to Bengali film director Ajay Biswas, which ended shortly thereafter.
Raakhee won rave reviews for her first Bengali film, Badhu Baran, 1967 in Calcutta at the age of 20, after which she was offered the lead role in her first Hindi film, Rajshri Productions' Jeevan Mrityu with Dharmendra in 1970. It went on to become a big hit including its song "Jhilmil sitaron ka aangan hoga..."
She again shot to fame in the 1971 film Sharmilee, in which she played a double role opposite Shashi Kapoor followed by Lal Patthar and Paras which became hits. Consequently she established herself as a popular and major Hindi lead heroine acting with the best co-stars and directors from 1972-1985, in several blockbusters like Shehzada (1972), Heera Panna (1973), Daag (1973), Hamare Tumhare (1979), Aanchal (1980), Taaqat(1982). She regards her performances in Blackmail (1973), though it was not a success at box-office and Tapasya (1976) to be her best performances. She shared good equation with Barjatyas, Yash Chopra and Dev Anand. She was paired opposite Dev Anand in 3 hit films Heera Panna, Banarasi Babu, Lootmaar and had one flop in Joshila.
Rakhee worked with Shashi Kapoor in 10 released films and the pair gave 7 hits - Sharmelee(1971), Jaanwar Aur Insaan (1972), Kabhi Kabhie (1976), the critically acclaimed Trishna (1978), Baseraa (1981), Zameen Aasmaan (1984) and Pighalta Aasman (1985) and had 3 box-office flops - Bandhan Kuchchey Dhaagon Ka (1983), Bandh Honth (1984), Doosara Aadmi (1977). There was a film Ek Do Teen Chaar where she was paired with Shashi again but it never got released. Her films with Amitabh Bachchan include 5 hit films: Kabhie Kabhie (1976), Muqaddar Ka Sikander (1977), Kasme Vaade (1978), Trishul (1978), Kaala Patthar (1979) and 3 flops - Jurmana (1979), Barsaat Ki Ek Raat (1981), and Bemisal (1982). With her main focus on good roles rather than star status, Raakhee raised eyebrows when she did not hesitate to play Rajesh Khanna's sister-in-law in Aanchal (1980 film) and Shashi Kapoor's and Amitabh Bachchan's sister-in-law in Shaan (1980) and played Amitabh's mother in Shakti (1982). She also played Amitabh's dead mother in Lawaaris (1981). She acted in other Bengali films Paroma(1984) which fetched her BFJA Award for Best Actress. Her last film as the lead female heroine was Pighalta Aasman in 1985 with Shahsi Kapoor which was a success. Towards the late-1980s and 1990s she played strong character roles as the elderly mother—usually a bereaved and bitter widow whose husband died at the hands of ruthless villains—or woman of principles in commercially successful films such as Ram Lakhan (1989), Anari, Baazigar (1993), Khalnayak (1993), Karan Arjun (1995), Border (1997), Soldier (1998) and Ek Rishta -Bond of Love (2001).
Her last film was Shubho Mahurat in 2003, for which she won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has since retired from the film industry.
In her second marriage, she married film director, poet and lyricist, Gulzar. The couple had a daughter, Meghna Gulzar (Bosky); when their daughter was only one year old, they separated but never divorced. Meghna Gulzar grew up with her father and, after completing her graduation in films from New York University, went on to become a director of films like Filhaal, Just Married and Dus Kahaniyaan, and authored the biography of her father Gulzar, in 2004.
At one point, Raakhee stayed in her bungalow, "Muktangan," on Sarojini Road in Khar, Mumbai, later she sold off the property and moved to an apartment two buildings away, though the new high rise is still called by the same name, as she had wished. These days she mostly stays in the Panvel farmhouse on Mumbai outskirts.