tv & movies

Rakhee Gulzar: The enigmatic relationship she shares with estranged lyricist husband

Actor Rakhee Gulzar turns 73 on Saturday. After making an impressive debut at the age of 20 in 1967 in the Bengali movie Badhu Baran, Rakhee worked in Hindi films including Jeevan Mrityu, Sharmeelee, Daag, Blackmail, Kabhie Kabhi and Shakti, among several others. She has been away from films for past 17 years – she was last seen in the Aishwarya Rai-starrer Dil Ka Rishta (2003). She recently worked in a Bengali film, Nirban, that has been doing the rounds at film festivals but is yet to be released.

Apart from the wonderful work in the films, Rakhee has had a filmy life as well – just a year after her second marriage with lyricist Gulzar, she separated from him. That was 1973, a year after daughter Meghna was born. They have not divorced till date and continue to be the pillars of support for each other even 46 years after they started living apart.

Talking about their relationship, Gulzar had said, “Even today, whenever I want to eat fish cooked by her, I first gift her a saree as a bribe like I used to do when we were courting. I gifted her so many sarees during our courtship days that I learnt to identify beautiful Dhakai and Tant sarees. I used to gift her the best ones. I still do.”

From following little birthday rituals to raising their only daughter — who is now an acclaimed filmmaker — Gulzar and Rakhee have been deeply involved in each other’s life. “From when Meghna was a child till the time she grew up, there hasn’t been a single occasion, moment, incident or celebration that we haven’t shared with each other,” Gulzar said, adding, “We have been together through it all — disagreements, fights and happy times. If this is not being together, then I don’t know what is.” He was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of his own biography Because He Is.

“We still have a little argument in every two-three hours. And that I think it is only fair. What kind of love is it, in which people don’t differ, don’t fight every now and then? But to say that we are not two different identities would be wrong. She does what she likes. I do what I like. All good friends live like this. You’re not close enough if you don’t brush against each other. We are still just like we were all these years ago. I have always been honest about it. I didn’t preach. I didn’t give any lessons or explanations. And she understood. This is how it is,” he added.

Rakhee had also said in an interview with Stardust, “We deserve an award for the best split couple. We are more well-adjusted than most married couples. Gulzar and I are there for each other. He treats me as if I were still his wife. He calls me from his house and tells me, ‘I’ve called four friends for dinner. There’s no food at home. So please, quickly send some jhinga curry.’ I send it across. His other favourite is kheer and he loves me to make it for him.”

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About a biography on her own life, Rakhee said in an interview with Scroll last year, “When you are in the movies, people know about your career graph, and as for my private life, there are so many things I can’t talk about. It will only hurt people. I write for my daughter, and she can handle it when I am gone. Films, films, films – there should be another dimension too. There is a limit, and now I want to do other things, like travel and see places. You hardly have any time left, and you want to see the beautiful world before you kick the bucket.”

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