Dina Pathak (née Gandhi; 4 March 1922 – 11 October 2002) was an Indian actress and director of Gujarati theatre and also a film actor. She was an activist and President of the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW).[3][4]

Dina Pathak
Dina Gandhi[1]

(1922-03-04)4 March 1922
Died11 October 2002(2002-10-11) (aged 80)
Years active1948–2002
SpouseBaldev Pathak
ChildrenSupriya Pathak
Ratna Pathak
RelativesNaseeruddin Shah (Son-in-law)
Pankaj Kapoor (Son-in-law)
Vivaan Shah (Grandson)
Imaad Shah (Grandson)
Ruhaan Kapoor (grandson)
Sanah Kapoor (Granddaughter)
AwardsSangeet Natak Akademi Award (1980)
Government of Gujarat's Merit Award (Theatre) for (2000–2001)[2]

A doyenne of Hindi and Gujarati films as well as theatre, Dina Pathak acted in over 120 films in a career spanning over six decades. Her production Mena Gurjari in Bhavai folk theatre style, ran successfully for many years, and is now a part of its repertoire.[5][6]

She is best known for her memorable roles in the Hindi films Gol Maal and Khubsoorat. She was a favourite of the Art Cinema in India where she played powerful roles in films like Koshish, Umrao Jaan, Mirch Masala and Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho!.[7]

Her notable Gujarati films were Moti Ba, Malela Jeev and Bhavni Bhavai, while her well-known plays include Dinglegar, Doll's House, Vijan Sheni and Girish Karnad's Hayavadana, directed by Satyadev Dubey.

Early lifeEdit

Dina Pathak was born in Amreli, Gujarat on 4 March 1922. She was enamoured of fashion and films, and while a teenager, started acting in plays and won acclaim from critics.[5][8] She attended and graduated from a college affiliated to the University of Bombay (Mumbai). Rasiklal Parikh trained her in acting while Shanti Bardhan taught her dancing.[8]

At a young age, she joined the Indian National Theatre as an actress. She became known for her student activism, where Bhavai theatre, a folk theatre form from Gujarat, was used extensively to create awareness about the British rule, in the pre-independence era; this led to her close association with Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA),[9] along with her elder sister Shanta Gandhi and younger sister Tarla Mehta; while in Mumbai, she had an important hand in reviving the Gujarati theatre there, along with fellow Gujarati actors like Kailash Pandya and Damini Mehta.[10]


She created quite a stir with her plays in Gujarat in the 1940s. The audience queued up to watch her play the lead in Maina Gurjari, which is still one of the most popular Bhavai's along with sister Shanta Gandhi's Jasma Odhan.[6] In 1957, when she performed Mena Gurjari in front of then-President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in Delhi, it became the first and the only Gujarati play to have achieved the feat so far.[11]

Although she made her film debut with a Gujarati film, Kariyawar (1948), she retreated back into theatre after acting in just one film. She continued playing to packed audience in plays by Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA) and Shanti Bardhan's Ballet troupe.[12] Later she formed her own theatre group in Ahmedabad called "Natmandal",[13] even today, she is remembered as a stalwart performer and a theatre activist at IPTA.[14]

In her mid-40's, she made a comeback into films, two decades after her debut, with Basu Bhattacharya's Uski Kahani (1966), for which she won the Bengal Journalists Association Award. She made four films in the 1960s, including Hrishikesh Mukherjee's classic Satyakam (1969), Saat Hindustani (1969), starring Amitabh Bachchan in his debut role and the Merchant Ivory Productions, The Guru (1969). By the 1970s, she had become a favourite of art and commercial films alike, playing powerful motherly and grandmotherly roles. It was in these films that she became recognised as the Grand-Old-Mother of Hindi films.[citation needed]

Films that stand out in this era are Gulzar's Mausam (1975), Kinara (1977) and Kitaab (1977), and sweet comedies like Basu Chatterjee's Chitchor (1976), Gharaonda (1977) and also in an art cinema classic, Shyam Benegal's Bhumika (1977), which saw her standing tall alongside another acting legend, Smita Patil, in her career's best performance.

Just as the 1970s ended, she was seen in the comedy classic, Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Gol Maal (1979), where she essayed the role of Kamala Shrivastava, a middle-aged woman who sportingly plays mother to Amol Palekar, who went on to direct her in his 1985 film, Ankahee. The next decade began with another career-best, as a stern disciplinarian matriarch in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Khoobsurat in (1980), closely followed by Bhavni Bhavai (1980). In 1980, she was also awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. During the 80s, she also appeared on the popular TV series, Malgudi Days. In 1984, she appeared in A Passage to India. Though she had far from given her career's best, she gave another powerful performance in Ketan Mehta's Mirch Masala (1985), Govind Nihalani's Tamas (1986) and once again she worked with Gulzar in Ijaazat (1987).[citation needed]

Perhaps her career's best came in another comedy when in 2002 she appeared in Deepa Mehta's Bollywood/Hollywood for which she was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role at the 23rd Genie Awards.[15] She was also portraying the role of Badi Maa in the cult show Khichadi (2002).

Personal lifeEdit

She married Baldev Pathak and had two daughters, actresses Ratna Pathak (b. 1957), and Supriya Pathak (b. 1961).[7][9]


She completed her last film, Pinjar (2003), but died before its release, of heart attack, following a prolonged illness,[7] on 11 October 2002 in Bandra, Bombay.[9]

Selected filmographyEdit


Year! Serial Role Channel Notes
1987 Malgudi Days Aaya (Main Role) Doordarshan Only Episode no 41
1994 Tehkikaat Kanchan Chaudhry DD National Jealously Turns Blood Episode 1 to 3
Junoon Savitri Dhanraj Only from Episode 1 to 7
1999 Ek Mahal Ho Sapno Ka Dadi Sony Entertainment Television



  1. ^ "Sangeet Natak Akademi Honours". Archived from the original on 23 November 2007.
  2. ^ Govt award for Dina Pathak The Times of India, 8 November 2001.
  3. ^ Need to make women aware: Dina Pathak The Tribune, 3 February 2000.
  4. ^ Women panels 'toothless' The Tribune, 1 May 1999.
  5. ^ a b Brandon, p. 83
  6. ^ a b "From Gujarat with grace". The Tribune. 11 June 2006.
  7. ^ a b c Veteran actress Dina Pathak passes away The Times of India, 11 October 2002.
  8. ^ a b Baradi, Hasmukh (2004). Lal, Ananda (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195644468. OCLC 56986659 – via Oxford Reference.
  9. ^ a b c "The Grand Dame of Indian Cinema" The Tribune, 11 April 1999
  10. ^ "Veteran actress Dina Pathak passes away" Archived 12 July 2004 at the Wayback Machine Indian Express, 12 October 2002.
  11. ^ "Reliving the past of Gujarati Rangbhoomi". The Times of India. 27 March 2013. Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  12. ^ "Remembering Dina Pathak". Archived from the original on 12 December 2007. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  13. ^ "Shaili Sathyu". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  14. ^ "IPTA". Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  15. ^ Bollywood Hollywood gets 5 Genie nominations, The Times of India, 3 January 2003,


External linksEdit