Rohini Hattangadi is an Indian actress, who has worked in Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati, English, Marathi, and Malayalam films. She is best known for her roles in the films Gandhi (1982), Saaransh (1984), and Agneepath (1990). She is the only Indian actress to win “BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role” for her amazing performance as “Kasturba Gandhi” in the film Gandhi (1982). She won National Film Award for the film Party (1984). Apart from this, she has also won two Filmfare Awards for her roles in the films, Arth (1982) and Agneepath (1990).
Rohini Hattangadi, also spelt as Rohini Hattangady was born as Rohini Oak on Monday, 11 April 1955 in Pune, Maharashtra. Her zodiac sign is Aries. She did her schooling at Renuka Swarup Memorial Girls High School, Pune. When she was in school, she acted in several children’s plays. She was also a student of Indian classical dance. During her college days, she was completely into sports. She used to play volleyball and basketball for the university. She was in the NCC as well. But for her passion towards theatre, she came to Delhi in 1971 to join the National School of Drama. At NSD, she was trained by Ebrahim Alkazi, an Indian theatre director and drama teacher. Upon completion of her graduation in 1974, she received two awards, Best Actress Award and Best All-Round Student.
Height (approx.): 5′ 4″
Hair Colour: Grey
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
She belongs to a Marathi family.
Parents & Siblings
Her father’s name was Anant Oak. She has a brother.
Husband & Children
She married Jayadev Hattangadi in 1977.
The couple has a son named Aseem Hattangadi. Aseem is an actor.
On 5 December 2008, Jayadev Hattagadi died at the age of 60 after a long battle with cancer.
She started her acting career as a theatre artist and played several roles in Marathi plays.
While in the National School of Drama, Rohini and Jayadev started “Awishkar,” a Marathi theatre group in Mumbai that has produced more than 150 plays. She gained popularity for her amazing performance in Changuna, a Marathi adaptation of the Spanish classic, Yerma, by Federico García Lorca. The play was produced by Awishkar in Mumbai. She won the Best Actress Award at Maharashtra State Drama Festival, Mumbai for her performance in the play. She is the first woman to act in a Kannada play, Yakshagana, and the first woman in Asia to act in a Japanese Kabuki play, Ibaragi. She gave powerful performances in several other plays including Aparajita, Medea, Mitra Chi Gosht, Hori, and Kohra.
In 1978, Rohini Hattangadi made her debut with the film “Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastaan.” The film was awarded the “Filmfare Critics Award” for Best Movie. In an interview, she said,
Naseer and Om were my seniors. One day Om told me that Saeed Mirza is making a film and he is looking for a girl for a small role. That’s how I got Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastan.”
Later on, she grabbed minor roles in the films, Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai (1980) and Chakra (1981). She acted in several other films like Arth (1982), Party (1984), Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho! (1984), Saaransh (1984), Pratighaat (1987), Aghaat (1985), Anjuman (1986), Agneepath (1990), Damini (1993), Ghatak: Lethal (1996), Pukar (2000), Lajja (2001), Avgat (2001), Badhaai Ho Badhaai (2002), Karzzzz (2008), David (2013), and Jalsa (2022). The film David was partially reshot in Tamil.
Her performance in the film Saaransh (1984) gained a lot of popularity when she, along with Anupam Kher, played the role of an elderly couple who struggled with the death of their son.
She has also acted in Munnabhai MBBS (2003) where she played the role of Parvati Sharma, mother of Munna. She reprised her role as Kasturi Venkatraman in the Tamil version of the film, Vasool Raja MBBS (2004).
In 1982, she gained immense popularity by playing the role of Kasturba Gandhi, wife of Mahatma Gandhi, in the film Gandhi which was directed and produced by Richard Attenborough.
Through this role, she gained international recognition by becoming the only Indian Actress to win “BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role” for her performance in 1983. She was 27 when she played the role of middle-aged Kasturba which helped her to get the roles of women from this age group.
In 2004, she played the role of Kasturi Venkatraman in the film Vasool Raja MBBS, a Tamil version of the Bollywood film, Munnabhai MBBS. She has also acted in Veeram (2014) and Kolaiyuthir Kaalam (2019).
She made a debut in the Marathi film industry by acting in the film Premachi Goshta (2013) as Ram’s mother.
In 2018, she played the role of Shubhhu Mavshi in the romantic drama Marathi film Mumbai Pune Mumbai 3. Her other Marathi films include Once More (2019) and Baipan Bhaari Deva (2023).
In the film Once More (2019), Rohini played the role of both a male and a female character. Prosthetics were used for the male character of Rohini Hattangadi.
She made a debut in the Telugu film industry by playing the role of Janakamma in the film Seetharamayya Gari Manavaralu (1991).
Her other Telugu films include Bhale Pellam (1994), Top Hero (1994), Little Soldiers (1996), Ganesh Just Ganesh (2009), Shirdi Sai (2012), Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu (2013), Ramayya Vasthavayya (2013), Brahmotsavam (2016), Chal Mohan Ranga (2018), and Chitralahari (2019).
She made a debut in Gujarati films by working in the film Oxygen in 2018. She also appeared in the film Baa Tane Hu Kya Rakhu in 2020.
She debuted in the Malayalam film industry by playing the role of Rukmini Kunjamma in the film Achuvettante Veedu in 1987.
She has also worked in Agnidevan (1995).
In 1986, she made a debut in the film Surya. Her other Kannada films include Ek Ghar and Mane, both released in 1991.
She made her television debut in the Hindi TV show Thode Hai Thode Ki Zaroorat Hai (1997-1999) on Sony TV. Her other roles in the Hindi TV shows are Mahayagya (1997-1998) on Sony TV where she played the role of Vimla Pandey, Ghar Ki Lakshmi Betiyann (2006-2009) on Zee TV where she played the role of Gayatri Baa, Maayke Se Bandhi Dor (2011) telecasted on Star Plus, Yeh Kahaan Aa Gaye Hum, Hindustani, and many more. She made a special appearance in the show Chhal — Sheh Aur Maat (2012) telecasted on Colors TV.
She made a debut in Marathi TV shows by playing the role of Ashalata Deshmukh in Char Divas Sasuche (2001-2013) aired on ETV Marathi.
She has also acted in Vahinisaheb (2006-2009) aired on Zee Marathi. Her other famous Marathi roles include the role of Bhagirathi Gokhale in Honar Sun Me Hya Gharchi (2013-2016) aired on Zee Marathi, the role of mother-in-law in Tuza Maza Breakup (2017-2018) on Zee Marathi, and Kashibai in Swamini (2019-2020) on Colors Marathi.
She made a debut in a Gujarati web series Kshadyantra in 2021 by playing the role of Vasanti Dosa.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- Best Actress Award at Maharashtra State Drama Festival, Mumbai for her performance in the play, Changuna
- BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (1983) for the film Gandhi (1982)
- Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award for the film Arth (1982)
- National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress for the film Party (1984)
- Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award for the film Agneepath (1990)
- She was honoured with the “Sangeet Natak Akademi Award” in 2004 for her contribution to Indian theatre.
- She received the “Kala Gaurav Award” from Dir. Rajdutt in May 2019.
- Food(s): Arbi Ke Patte (colocasia leaves), Bhaji (Vegetable Fritters)
- William Shakespeare’s Play: Macbeth
- Movie(s): Lagaan (2001), Fashion (2008)
- For more than eight years, she received training in the Indian classical dance forms, Kathakali and Bharatnatyam, under the guidance of Professor Surendra Wadgaonkar.
- In an interview, she revealed that although her main interest was theatre, it was not enough to make both ends meet. So, she switched to the film industry. According to her, while doing theatre, the actors form a connection with the audience by getting live feedback from them. She said,
In theatre you develop a connection with the audience. It is a kind of give and take. When you spend years on the stage you start getting live feedback from the audience and mould your performance accordingly. Some people start crying loudly, what we call melodrama, to get response from the audience. I believe in internalising and then expect the audience to understand the nuances. Once a director told me to cry but I said when my acting can make the audience cry why I do I need to waste my tears!”
- Rohini shared an instance where she revealed that after her powerful performance in the film Gandhi, an American director James Ivory wanted to cast her in his film, Heat and Dust, but was surprised to know that she was too young at that time. So, he decided not to cast her because he didn’t want her to use makeup.
- In an interview, she said that she didn’t have early plans to enter the cinema as she was mainly interested in theatre. Although, in her hometown, Pune, the Film and Television Institute of India was located, she moved to Delhi to join the National School of Drama to enter into the world of theatre. She said,
I just wanted to be an actor. Unlike many others I didn’t join theatre or National School Drama with the hope that it will be a stepping stone for cinema. If I had such plans I would have joined FTII which is in my hometown Pune. My heart was in theatre because I learnt from my father (Anant Oak) that real acting is learnt through theatre. That’s why I came all the way to Delhi to join NSD”
- Rohini and her husband Jayadev Hattangai met at the National School of Drama, Delhi. They were together trained by Ebrahim Alkazi. Jayadev took the training in the field of direction. Upon completion of graduation in 1974, Jayadev won Best Director Award for his amazing work.
- The Tribune, an Indian English language newspaper, gave Rohini Hattangadi and Anupam Kher (for his debut performance) the title of “immortal performances” for the film Saaransh, a Hindi drama film released in 1984. Both Rohini and Kher played the role of an elderly couple who struggled with the recent death of their son in the film. Both of them were in their early 20s when they played the roles of an elderly couple. The wonderful performance of Rohini Hattangadi in the film helped her to earn a nomination for Filmfare Award for Best Actress. This further consolidated her image as a mother and she mostly got motherly roles in her career. In an interview, she expressed that she didn’t want to comment on the acting standards of Bollywood stars as most of the time, she used to get motherly roles. She said,
I did get films like ‘Party’ and ‘Arth’ but mostly I got mother’s role.” She never felt like commenting on the acting standards of Bollywood stars? “How could I when I myself was also doing films like ‘Tamacha’. Yes, once I asked Amitabh Bachchan how did he manage two different levels of performance in ‘Shahenshah’ and ‘Agneepath’ (in both the films she played his mother). He said in the former the subject wanted the audience to have some fun and forget, the latter expect them to sit up and take note. My attempt is to be convincing in both. As actors we keep on hoping to get that one good role, but at times we have to go through a lot of trash to get there.”
- In one of her famous interviews, she shared about various challenges she has to go through to maintain the continuity of shooting for the character in various TV shows. She said,
The director could start shooting the fifth scene first. So while giving take for the scene I need to know what I am expected to do in the first four scenes. Sometimes it gets quite confusing and on television you never know when the channel will change the story or dump the character!”
- One of her favourite characters is Ashalata Deshmukh which she played in Char Divas Sasuche (2001-2013) aired on ETV Marathi, where she combines the best of a professional and a homemaker.
- According to Rohini, Saeed Mirza (writer and director of Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai, 1980) considers her his lucky charm. Due to this, he cast her in just one scene in his film Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai (1980). She said,
Somehow Saeed Mirza started to see me as his lucky charm. He cast me for just one scene in ‘Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai’. I was fine with it as I was getting an opportunity to spend time with friends. The bread and butter was coming from Marathi theatre productions which I was doing with my husband (Jayadev Hattangadi)”
- According to her, the actual bread and butter for her family were coming from the Marathi theatre but it was not enough to make both ends meet.
- Before getting the role of Kasturba Gandhi in the film Gandhi in 1982, she was asked to lose some weight so that she can travel to London to give auditions for the role. She said that she didn’t have money to lose weight but somehow managed to do it to grab the role. She lost eight kgs in a month. On reaching London, she saw that Naseeruddin Shah, Smita Patil, John Hurt, and Bhakti Barve were already there, auditioning for the film Gandhi (1982).
- Rohini was very anxious to give auditions for the role of Kasturba in the film Gandhi (1982) as she was a theatre person and had the habit of rehearsing her lines before going on the stage. She was sceptical to ask Ben Kinsley (who played the role of Gandhi in the film Gandhi 1982) to practice before the auditions but became relaxed when she came to know that Ben was also from the theatre. Both of them rehearsed before giving the final shot. She said,
I was pitted opposite Ben Kingsley. We were given the scene where Kasturba refuses to clean the latrine. As a theatre person I had this habit of rehearsing my lines before going on stage. I was anxious as to how to approach Ben. Fortunately, Ben was also from theatre. When he said can we do our lines before the audition, I felt so relieved. Sir Richard took three, four shots from different angles and next day he announced the results. Even before we got to know, my good friend Smita was already sure that I will get the role.”
- She confessed that she didn’t know much about Mahatma Gandhi and only knew him as a freedom fighter. It was only after reading his autobiography that she came to know about him in detail.
- She read about Kasturba Gandhi in two books, Hamari Ba and Ba Bapu Ki Sheetal Chhaya Mein. In an interview, she said,
Shooting for Gandhi was a revelation for me. We were all given scripts and then we were asked to do our homework. I searched for books on Kasturba, but I found only two books, that’s all. So I had to rely on my own skills.”
- According to her, while shooting for the film Gandhi (1982), one of the most difficult tasks was to operate the charkha correctly and talk simultaneously to make the most important scenes of the film look authentic and real.
- After the success of the film Gandhi, she started expecting to have high stands in Indian cinema and was desperate to get roles in different films. She agreed to act in the film Zakhmi Sher which was released in 1984. She was shocked when she came to know that she was supposed to play the role of mother of the Jeetendra. She was 12 years younger than Jeetendra when she was asked to play the role. In an interview, she said,
I was told that you have three-four scenes as a young girl and later you will play the mother of the hero. I didn’t realise that it is their way to explain a mother’s role. Later I was told similar stories to play Dharmendra’s mother as well. Even Jeetendra was shocked. I was at least 12 years younger to him.”
- One of the major regrets Rohini has in her life regarding her career is that after the huge success of the film Gandhi (1982), she didn’t hire any agent to get her work in Hollywood. However, she never took acting as a means to reach somewhere and moreover, at that time she started her family.
- Rohini Hattangadi is an animal lover and has several pet cats. She is also seen sharing pictures of various animals on her social media accounts.
- During her young days, she had a habit of making scrapbooks. In one of her Instagram posts, she shared a picture of her first’s children play (1 November 1964).
- Rohini Hattangadi loves gardening and is often seen planting trees and several plants in her balcony pots.
- In her leisure time, she loves to cook and play Sudoku and Candy Crush
- In an interview, she revealed that she didn’t have a passport to travel to London for the auditions for the role of Kasturba in the film Gandhi (1982). But the casting agent Dolly Thakore made the arrangements for the temporary passport for her within eight days. She said,
I still remember vividly how I got Kasturba’s role in Gandhi. At that time I was doing Marathi theatre when casting agent Dolly Thakore contacted me to meet Sir Richard. He was going from Delhi to London via Mumbai. Luckily, I was in Mumbai that day. I met him for an hour. We spoke about theatre and then he left. I later got to know he had so many other actresses for Kasturba’s role. So I didn’t really bank on getting the role. But the very next day Dolly called to say I had to leave for London for shooting immediately. I was booked for the coming weeks for my play. I didn’t even have a passport. So how was I supposed to leave for London all of a sudden? But Dolly said she’d help me with all the travel details. In eight days, I got a temporary passport and the producer of my play was very accommodating. Everything just fell into place.”
- The date of birth of the reel Kasturba (Rohini Hattangadi) and the real-life Kasturba are the same, i.e. 11 April.
- She revealed that she had to take elocution classes to learn the correct English pronunciation for the role of Kasturba in the film Gandhi (1982). She said,
Shooting for Gandhi was a revelation for me. We were all given scripts and then we were asked to do our homework. I searched for books on Kasturba, but I found only two books, that’s all. So I had to rely on my own skills. At the same time Sir Richard did not allow us to deviate from the script. He was very clear on how he wanted my English pronunciation. He didn’t want me to put on an accent. At the same time, he didn’t want any Maharashtrian or Marathi pronunciation in my speech. Since I had gone to a Marathi language school, I had to take elocution classes as preparation for my part as Kasturba. Sir Richard also made me and Ben Kingsley learn to spin the charkha. We spent two-and-a-half months learning both.”
- For the first time in her career, she played a dual role of both a male and a female in the Marathi film, Once More, which was released in 2019. In the 80s, she played two characters in a theatre play Rathchakra, but both characters were females. In an interview, she said,
I have done this before only once in the 80s for a play named Rathchakra which happened before Gandhi. In the play, I played this 80-year-old woman BK Shah in the first act and then in the third, I went on to play another character, so yes they were two different characters but they were only female. Here in this film, I am playing a male and a female character so yes it is different and interesting. It was a challenge for sure but also fun at the same time.”
- Prosthetics were used for the male character of Rohini Hattangadi in the film Once More (2019).
- In an interview, she said that she had to go to Delhi one month before the beginning of the shooting of Gandhi (1982) to learn the art of spinning the Charkha and elocution.
- In an interview in 2022, she shared her desire to be a part of Shakespeare’s plays.
- She was a student of Indian classical dance when she was in school. There was an audition for the play which had three dances in it. Since she was a student of Indian classical dance, she got selected and that’s how she entered the world of theatre.
- In an interview, she shared her experience about how she got admission to the National School of Drama in Delhi. She said that after completing her B.Sc., she was looking for a job for a very long time but failed to get one. During that time, her dad saw an ad in the newspaper regarding the various scholarships being offered in performing arts. His dad asked her to apply for that. Also, NSD had toured Mumbai and Pune with two of their plays, Caucasian Chalk Circle and Jasma Odan at that time. Her father was in Mumbai when he saw the performance of Ebrahim Alkazi in those plays and was impressed when he came to know that Ebrahim Alkazi was the Director of NSD. Her father was so impressed that he asked Rohini to go to Delhi to study this art. Three months passed but she didn’t get any call for the interview. She lost all hope but then one day, she suddenly got a call and was asked to come to Kolkata for the first round of interviews and then to Delhi. This is how she got admission to NSD. There she learned lighting, music, writing, and carpentry, and got specialised in acting in the second year.
- Various Marathi theatre plays like Medea, Aparajita, Mitrachi Gosht, and The House of Bernarda Alba are very close to her heart. Most of these plays were performed with the support of her husband, Jayadev Hattangadi, who used to explain all the logic and reasoning about everything to be done on stage to her. Rohini’s role in the play Medea was very challenging as she had to play a role of a mother who killed her two sons. But she had to stop the performance at that time as she was pregnant and her doctor had advised her not to do the play during her pregnancy. However, the play was performed after Rohini and Jayadev’s son Aseem Hattangadi was born.
- In an interview, Rohini shared one of the most humorous incidents from her theatre days. It was in 1981 when she was doing the play Mitrachi Gosht. She was five months pregnant at that time. In a scene, she was supposed to wear a male costume and for that, she had to wear trousers. She ran backstage to change her clothes but failed to wear the trousers as she couldn’t button them due to her bulge. But with the help of several safety pins, she managed to pin up her trousers and pulled her shirt out to hide her belly. Apart from this, she also shared her grief about the negligence related to the maintenance of the theatres in the current times.
- Rohini said that on her birthday, her son’s birthday, and her husband’s birthday, she always tries to donate something. She also donates on the death anniversary of her husband.
- Till Richard Attenborough, the director and producer of the film Gandhi 1982 was alive, he used to send greeting cards to Rohini every Christmas.