Reena Roy was the second daughter of a Muslim father and a Hindu mother. Her parents divorced after having four children together. She started acting in films in her early teens to support her mother and siblings.
Reena Roy's career in films started off with a non-starter, B. R. Ishara's Nai Duniya Naye Log with another newcomer Danny Denzongpa, but it was shelved temporarily. Undeterred, B. R. Ishara cast both actors again in Zaroorat (1972), along with another newcomer Vijay Arora, and the racy film got her some attention. She was now called the "Zaroorat Girl." Yet, she struggled for the next four years in B grade films that had feeble scripts and faltering leading men. The bright spot during this period came with her lively performance in Jaise Ko Taisa (1973), and her rain-soaked dance to the song "Ab ke Sawan" with Jeetendra raised temperatures.
Another break came after two years. At the outset Kalicharan (1975) didn't seem like it had the makings of a hit. Subhash Ghai, a failed actor, was making his directorial debut, and Shatrughan Sinha, an actor known for his villainous roles, was making his first mark as a hero. But the film defied everyone's expectations and became a surprise hit, and Reena as Shatrugan's love interest got attention from audiences and from Shatrughan himself. They became an off-screen pair as well, and they signed several films together.
Reena Roy also made several films with Sunil Dutt. The successes of Zakhmee (1975) and Kalicharan led to her star vehicle Nagin (1976). Playing the title role of "female snake with mythological powers", she avenges the death of her lover by ruthlessly murdering five men. The film became a huge hit, and Reena received her first Filmfare nomination as Best Actress. She was now one of the top heroines in Hindi films. Inspired by "Nagin"'s success, director, Rajkumar Kohli, cast Reena again in his next horror movie, Jaani Dushman (1979). Thereafter, the Kohli-Roy combination continued to give blockbusters, including Muqabla (1979), Badle Ki Aag (1982), and Raaj Tilak (1984). Reena Roy-Shatrughan Sinha became a famous team after "Kalicharan," and had delivered yet another blockbuster thriller, Subhash Ghai's Vishwanath (1978). But it was Reena's appearance with Jeetendra in marital dramas like Badaltey Rishtey (1978) and Pyaasa Sawan (1982) that set her career soaring. The duo produced three of their greatest classics together - Apnapan (1977), Aasha (1980) and Arpan (1983).
Her role in Apnapan as the selfish gold-digger who abandons her husband and child and later wanting her son back, won her the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award, beating out top actresses Nutan, Asha Parekh, and Rekha. (This was the precursor to the type of role that Meryl Streep played two years later in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)). After the box office success of Aasha for which she received her second Filmfare nomination as Best Actress, Reena entered the 1980s as a leading lady in demand, securing herself roles with famous movie star like Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra, and Vinod Khanna. Though professionally she competed with Rekha, off the screen they were good friends. Rekha helped Reena improve her costume sense and hair styles.
Reena Roy then concentrated on her career, with stiff competition from Hema Malini, Rekha. In 1982 alone, she had thirteen releases, by far more than any other actress. She was now demanding equal footing with Hema. Her characters became more versatile, as did her dances. She danced with the classical 'natyam' in Rocky (1981)), just as easily as the "Disco Station" number in Hathkadi (1982). She was the sophisticated city dwelling model in Karishma (1984) and as the village girl in Dharam Kanta (1982). She met the challenging demands of her double role in the Muslim social, Ladies Tailor (1981), and acted against Sanjeev Kumar.
At the pinnacle of her popularity, Reena's strong desire to prove herself got her involved in a number of women-oriented films. Enacting the role of a tormented daughter-in-law in Sau Din Saas Ke (1980), she defies conventions to oppose her tyrant mother-in-law. With an author-backed role in Bezubaan (1982), she gave a portrayal of a woman whose past returns to threaten her present married life. In Lakshmi (1982 film) (1982), playing the role of a mis-fortunate tawaif, she dances to her never-ending tragedies. However, the film failed at the box office. But she was successful with her other home production - the musical comedy, Sanam Teri Kasam (1982), opposite Kamal Hassan and produced by her sister Barkha Roy. She also starred in the Punjabi films Sat Sri Akal (1977) and Walayati Babu (1981)(paired with Amitabh Bachchan).
She had two more sisters, Barkha and Anju and a brother, Raja. Reena's actual name is Saira. Her stage name before becoming Reena Roy was Roopa. In 1983, at the height of her fame, Reena Roy decided to quit films to marry Pakistani cricketer Mohsin Khan. Her last film was the tragedy Inteha (1984), in which she is raped and tormented by Raj Babbar. The film didn't do well. One of Reena's last releases was J.P. Dutta's war-torn Ghulami (1985). Her husband tried to become a Bollywood film star; ultimately he was unsuccessful in acting and in marriage. Reena initially lost custody of their daughter Sanam in the divorce. However, after her ex-husband married a younger woman who didn't want to raise a child, Reena regained custody.Few years ago Reena married her servant.
Reena returned to Bollywood in 1992, in a mature supporting role as a sister-in-law ('bhabhi') in Aadmi Khilona Hai (1993). Her unhappiness showed in her significant weight gain, and the insignificant roles that followed proved to even her die-hard fans that Reena Roy's film career was over. Her last film appearance was in J.P Dutta's Refugee (2000). She has since turned to acting in television serials, such as "Eena Meena Deeka," produced by her sister Barkha. After the serial ended, the sisters opened an acting school in 2004. Reena Roy has also campaigned for the Indian National Congress
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