Remembering Dina Pathak, one of the most powerful mothers onscreen and a doyen of Gujarati theatre, on her 16th death anniversary today.

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Dina Pathak was born on 4 March 1922 in Amreli, Gujarat. Since her childhood, Dina took a keen interest in acting and started acting in plays. At a young age, she joined the Indian National Theatre as an actress. While studying in Bombay, Dina involved herself in student activism. At that time Bhavai theatre was used to create awareness among people which led to her association with Indian People’s Theatre Association after which she played an important role in reviving the Gujarati theatre.

Dina Pathak started her acting career with theatre. She had an extremely successful theatre life in the 1940s. Her play ‘Mena Gurjari’ is still one of most famous plays of her life.

Dina made her film debut with the Gujarati film ‘Kariyawar’ but again retreated back into the theatre. She continued theatre and joined Shanti Bardhan’s Ballet troupe and Indian People’s Theatre Association. Later Dina established her own theatre group ‘Natmandal’ in Ahmedabad.

Dina later made a comeback into films with ‘Uski Kahani’ for which she was awarded the Bengal Journalists Association Award. The films that followed are Satyakam, Saat Hindustani and The Guru. Starting 1970s, Dina became a favorite name in the field of art and commercial films. Her portrayal of motherly and grandmotherly roles in several films won her the title the Grand-Old-Mother of Hindi films.

Dina Pathak has essayed a variety of roles with natural ease and elan. She has left her mark in the industry with notable performances in Saccha Jhoota, Dream Girl, Umrao Jaan, Prem Rog, Golmaal, the list is endless.

Dina Pathak’s flair for comedy came through as she successfully enacted the role of an adhoc mother in the hilarious comedy film, Golmaal. Her role of a middle-aged woman who steps in as ‘mother’ to a young unemployed man tickled the humorous vein of many cinegoers.

Her much-remembered portrayal of a no-nonsense and dictatorial matriarch, who lays down strict rules in the household, in the film Khubsoorat saw her popularity rising.

Pathak’s strong performance as the mother of a courtesan in Umrao Jaan as well as the matriarchal supporter of young vulnerable women in the art film Mirch Masala earned her a large fan following.

Her ability lay in bringing to fore a mixed range of emotions, be it anger, compassion, turmoil or even a tragedy which struck women. Her silver-haired and rotund appearance earned her an image of a ‘lovable mother and grandmother’.

Dina Pathak also created a niche for herself in the world of Gujarati films and theatre by her excellent acting style. Her notable Gujarati films include Moti Ba, Malela Jeev, Bhawani Bhavai while her well-known plays include Dinglegar and Doll’s House.

Dina married Baldev Pathak and two beautiful daughters, Supriya Pathak and Ratna Pathak were born to the couple.

Dina had not been keeping well for a long time and died of a heart attack on 11 October 2002 in Bandra, Bombay at her daughter’s residence.

Celebrating Cinema

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