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Birthday special: The award-winning roles of Supriya Pathak

On the actress’s birthday today (7 September), we look at the films and roles that got her noticed.

Sonal Pandya

The elder daughter of veteran stage and screen actor Dina Pathak, Supriya Pathak burst onto the scene with her early films Kalyug (1981) and Bazaar (1982). Pathak was cast in Shyam Benegal's Kalyug after Jennifer Kendal Kapoor, wife of producer-actor Shashi Kapoor, saw her perform on stage. She held her own cast opposite the big names in the industry, including Shashi, Rekha, Raj Babbar and Amrish Puri. A contemporary movie adaptation of the Mahabharata, Kalyug featured Pathak as part of an ensemble cast as Subhadra, the wife of Anant Nag's Bharatraj.

Supriya Pathak in Kalyug (1981)

Even in this modest role, she won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Award in 1982. That same year, she appeared in another Shashi production, Vijeta (1982), introducing his son Kunal Kapoor. Her next feature was Sagar Sarhadi's Bazaar (1982) alongside Smita Patil, Farooq Shaikh and Naseeruddin Shah. Her character, the sweet and simple Shabnam, involved in a romance with Shaikh's character Sarju, eventually experiences the repercussions from the machinations of those around her. Pathak felt her career changed after that film and her second consecutive Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress was more satisfying than the first.

With Farooq Shaikh in Bazaar (1982)

These initial critical hits established her as an actor of repute early on and not just because she had a famous mother. They led to small but well-received roles in Richard Attenborough's Academy Award-winning Gandhi (1982), Shekhar Kapur's Masoom (1983) and Ketan Mehta's Mirch Masala (1985). And then, a mere nine years later, she disappeared from films.

Pathak chose the burgeoning small screen instead, appearing in the television shows Mohandas BALLB (with her husband Pankaj Kapur) and Ek Mahal Ho Sapno Ka at the end of the 1990s. In 2002, the show Khichdi made her character Hansa Parekh a household name and an instant success; it was followed up by a second season and big screen movie in 2005 and 2010 respectively. In the new millennium, she returned to films with essential roles in Ram Gopal Varma's Sarkar (2005) and Sarkar Raj (2008) and as Ranbir Kapoor's supportive mother in Wake Up Sid (2009).

With Deepika Padukone in Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013)
But it was Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Romeo and Juliet tale transplanted to Gujarat, Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013) that landed her a part equal to the film's two leads, Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone. As the head of the Sanera family, Pathak was Dhankor Baa, the wise yet ruthless chieftain who is willing to sacrifice her own daughter's happiness for the pride and reputation of the family name. Critics and audiences applauded her darker turn in the film and 31 years after she won her second major award, Pathak added a third Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress to her mantle.