Amol Palekar is an award-winning Indian actor, director & producer who is immensely popular in Marathi and Bollywood film industries. A versatile artist, Amol Palekar made his foray in the film industry as an actor but later shifted focus to direction. Palekar is best known for his roles in Bollywood movies like ‘Golmaal’, ‘Baaton Baaton Main’ and ‘Choti Si Baat’. This actor-turned-director, a recipient of three Filmfare awards and six State awards for Best Actor is also known for is also known for directing several TV shows.
Amol Palekar was born on 24 November 1944 to Kamlakar and Suhasini Palekar in Mumbai. Palekar’s father was a General Post Office employee and his mother was working for a private company. Palekar has three sisters, Neelam, Repha and Unnati. Palekar studied Fine Arts at the Sir JJ School of Arts, Mumbai and started his career as a painter and before entering the cine world, he worked at the Bank of India.
After separating from his first wife, Chitra, Amol Palekar married Sandhya Gokhale
who is a writer. The couple has two daughters – Shyamalee and Samiha. Palekar considers himself an agnostic. Shyamalee Palekar, the elder one is an actor and a gay rights activist and Samiha, the younger one is a sports law graduate and has represented India in Rugby.
As an actor
Amol Palekar has been an active artiste in the Hindi and Marathi theatre scene since the late sixties. Though known largely for his lead roles in Hindi cinema, he is considered to be one of the champions of modern Indian theatre. He reached the peak of his career in the 1970s when he broke Hindi cinema’s larger-than-life, over-dramatic clutter with his middle-class, simpleton image.
Palekar made his acting debut in 1971 with the Marathi film Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe directed by Satyadev Dubey
. The movie is also a milestone in Marathi cinema, beckoning the arrival of the New Cinema Movement. Post his successful debut, Palekar moved to acting in Hindi films and made his mark immediately, he rose to fame with brilliant performances in Basu Chatterjee’s Rajnigandha (1974) and the much-acclaimed Chhoti Si Baat (1975) opposite Vidya Sinha
. Both these movies turned out to be silver jubilee hits and Amol Palekar completed a hat-trick of hits with the Hindi romantic musical film Chitchor (1976). His movies were known to be real, middle-class comedies, sans the dramatics of mainstream Indian films.
With a successful start to his career, Amol Palekar continued his good run in his subsequent films and was not afraid to portray versatile roles in his films. Whilst he played a character struggling to get his own flat in Gharonda (1976), he portrayed the role of a person who struggles hard to win over his girlfriend/wife in the 1979 movie Baaton Baaton Mein. He was also seen in the 1978 comedy drama flick ‘Safed Jhoot’, playing the role a character named Amol Palekar.
The Palekar- Hrishikesh Mukherjee duo started out giving light-hearted comedies to Bollywood with ‘Golmaal’ (1979), which became a cult hit. For his outstanding comic timing in the film, Palekar went on to win the Filmfare Award for Best Actor. In 1979 he was cast opposite a debutante actress, Sridevi
in Solva Saawan, which was a remake of Tamil film 16 Vayathinile. Palekar, reprised the role of Kamal Haasan
from the original film and played the role of a handicapped man. Amol continued his association with Basu Chatterjee for his next Hindi movie Apne Paraye, where he was paired opposite Shabana Azmi
The year 1981 saw him perform the lead role in Marathi film Akriet. In the same year, Amol joined Hrishikesh Mukherjee for the Hindi movie Naram Garam, alongside like Utpal Dutta
, Swaroop Sampat
, and Shatrughan Sinha
. The following year, Palekar has also featured in a Malayalam film, Olangal, which was directed by Balu Mahendra
Amol and Hrishikesh association gave Bollywood two more comedy flicks in the form of ‘Rang Birangi’ (1983), the film which is best known for Utpal Dutt
playing the role of inspector Dhurandhar Bhatawadekar and Jhoothi (1985) alongside Raj Babbar
and Rekha. During the same period, Amol Palekar tried his hand at Bengali cinema with movies like Kalankini (1981), Chena Achena (1983), and Abashehe (1985).
He explored another language by doing the Kannada film ‘Sringara Masa’ (1984 release). In 1986, Amol was seen in another multi-starrer Hindi comedy titled ‘Baat Ban Jaye’ (alongside a galaxy of stars like Sanjeev Kumar
, Zeenat Aman
, Utpal Dutt
, Raj Babbar
Post 1990, Amol was seen as an actor in very limited set of movies. Some of the Bollywood films he acted towards the later part of his career were Partho Ghosh
’s ‘Teesra Kaun
’ (1994) and Hindi supernatural thriller ‘Aks
’ (2001), co-starring Amitabh Bachchan
and Manoj Bajpayee
. After the 2001 film, the actor took a sabbatical for eight years and made his comeback in 2009 by appearing in the Marathi film, Samaanthar
, which was his own directorial venture. The film co-starring the veteran Bollywood actress, Sharmila Tagore
marked her debut in Marathi film industry.
As a Director
Amol’s first movie as a director in any kind of cinema was the Marathi film Aakriet (1981). In Bollywood, he made his directorial debut with the 1985 film Ankahee, where he also starred in the lead role alongside Deepti Naval
and Dr. Shriram Lagoo. His 1997 Bollywood directorial venture Daayra, starring Sonali Kulkarni
and Nirmal Pandey
was showcased at the Toronto International Film Festival.
After a successful tryst with directing Bollywood films, Palekar then went back to directing Marathi films. In 2003, he directed Anahat, which comprised of actors like Sonali Bendre
, Deepti Naval
and Anant Nag
in the lead roles. The film was showcased at the International film festival ‘Indian Panorama.
Two years later, Palkear directed the much-hyped Hindi movie ‘Paheli
’ that had stars like Shah Rukh Khan
, Juhi Chawla
and Rani Mukherjee
. It was screened at several film festivals, and was also India’s official entry at the 79th Academy Awards in the Foreign Language category. His 2006 bilingual directorial film ‘Quest’ (English and Marathi drama) won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in English. The film dealt with a rather touch-topic of homosexuality and was applauded for its bold, yet sensitive approach.
Palekar is also known for his directorial work in television serials like 'Mrignayanee' (1991), 'Kachchi Dhoop' (1987), 'Naquab' (1988), 'Aa Bail Mujhe Maar' (1987) and 'Paool Khuna' (1993).
Amol Palekar teamed up with Satyadev Dubey to commence Marathi experimental theatre, and even went on to form his own group, Aniket, in 1972.