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DINA PATHAK (1922-2002)

Dina Pathak was an actor. She was born Dina Gandhi in the town of Amreli, near Bhavnagar to an orthodox Brahmin family. Her father was an engineer. Her elder sister Shanta Gandhi (q.v.) also acted and danced. Shanta’s rebellion may have made it easier for Dina to step out of the home. Even as a teenager Dina acted in plays and won acclaim. As a college student in Bombay she became involved with activist theatre and agitated against British Rule. She studied acting and dance under Rasiklal Parikh and Shanti Bardhan, having joined the Indian National Theatre and later the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA), along with Shanta and their younger sister Tarla Mehta. Although Dina made her film debut with a Gujarati film, Kariyawar (1948) but primarily remained a theatre actor till the 1960s. She performed the lead in Mena Gurjari as well As Sarat Chandra Chatterjee’s Vijaya and Biraj Bahu, and Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House at Natmandal. She also taught the new theatre along with Rasiklal Parikh and Jashwant Thaker, introduced the techniques of the Beijing Opera theough her experiments, actively promoted Bhavai, and directed original Gujarati drama.

Moving back to Bombay, she reentered films as a character actress in Basu Bhattacharya’s Uski Kahani (1966), for which she won the Bengal Journalists’ Association Award. In Basu Chatterjee’s Sara Akash (The Whole Sky, 1969) she played the mother while in Saeed Mirza’s Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho! (Summons for Mohan Joshi, 1984) she played the wife. She worked in children’s theatre as well as with cultural organizations like Loknatya and Navnatya. In 1969 three films starring her were released: Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Satyakam, Saat Hindustani with Amitabh Bachchan in his debut role and Merchant Ivory Productions’ The Guru. She appeared in Gulzar’s Mausam (1975), Basu Chatterjee’s Chitchor (1976) and Shyam Benegal’s Bhumika (1977), with Smita Patil (q.v.). In 1979 she played the mother to Amol Palekar’s character in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Golmaal and in 1985 she starred in Palekar’s 1985 film, Ankahee. She won critical acclaim for Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Khoobsurat in 1980, closely followed by Bhavani Bhavai that year. In 1980 she received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. She played in the popular TV series, Malgudi Days, Shankar Nag’s adaptation of R.K. Narayan’s eponymous classic. In 1984 she starred in David Lean’s A Passage to India and the following year she was seen in Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala, the year after in Govind Nihalani’s Tamas and once again she worked with Gulzar in Ijaazat (1987). In 2002 she appeared in Deepa Mehta’s Indo-Canadian Bollywood/Hollywood for which she was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role at the 23rd Genie Awards. She died just before the release of her last film, Pinjar (2003).

She had two daughters, Supriya Pathak and Ratna Pathak. Supriya Pathak, a TV actor, is married to Pankaj Kapoor while Ratna Pathak is married to Naseeruddin Shah.
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