Shah Rukh Khan was also present at the function to honour the actress.
Raakhee Gulzar, the legendary actress who ruled Hindi and Bengali cinema for over 25 years with memorable performances, was last seen in Rituparno Ghosh’s whodunit Shubho Mahurat in 2003.
Now, she is back on the screen with Gautam Haldar’s Bengali film Nirban. It was screened on November 9 as part of the Kolkata International Film Festival, and has been ready for some time now, says the actress.
“I have no idea why its release is delayed, but it’s a very relevant subject. We’ve made it in both, Bengali and Hindi,” she adds.
Shockingly, Gulzar — whose beauty inspired Sahir Ludhianvi to write the lines ‘Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein khayaal aata hai ke jaise tujhko banaya gaya hai mere liye’ — reveals that she has never been invited by the festival before.
“This is the 25th year of existence for the Kolkata International Film Festival. Not once did they invite me before this. This is the first invitation I’ve received, and that too because Mamataji (West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee) wanted me to be honoured. I said yes because of her,” she smiles.
The event went swimmingly, with Banerjee appreciating her presence. An appreciative Gulzar reveals: “She was giving instructions about the Bengal cyclone on the phone while attending the function to honour me. She is a wonderful person, much misunderstood and vilified for being a powerful woman.”
Shah Rukh Khan was also present at the function to honour the actress. “Shah Rukh is very fond of both me and Mamataji. Ever since I played his mother in Baazigar and Karan Arjun, he has been very close to me and hasn’t changed one bit over the years. He held my hand and greeted me with the same warmth,” the actress smiles, adding that she invited Khan to be on the stage with her.
“I made him recite two lines from Rabindranath Tagore’s O Amar Desher, which talks about bowing one’s head to one’s motherland. Shah Rukh recited the lines like a Bengali,” she says with a hint of pride.
Answering a question about what her fans can expect from Nirban, Gulzar begins her answer with an uproarious laughter.
“Fans? I don’t think anyone even remembers me today. Time has moved on. The young audience is not familiar with my work, or maybe they know Kabhi Kabhie, Paroma and a few others.”