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Nationality IndeBirth 23 september 1943
(79 years) at Mumbai (Inde
Tanuja Mukherjee (nee Samarth), popularly known as Tanuja, is an Indian film actress. She is the mother of Hindi film actresses, Kajol and Tanisha, and is most remembered for her roles in Hindi films like Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi (1966), Jewel Thief, Haathi Mere Saathi (1971), and Anubhav (1971). Simultaneously she appeared in Marathi, Bengali and Gujarati films like, Zaakol, Pitruroon (Marathi), Naari tu Narayani'(Gujarati), and several Bengali films such as Antony Phiringee, Deya Neya, Teen Bhuvaner Parey (1969), Prothom Kadam Phool, and Rajkumari.
Tanuja was born in a Marathi family of four children,three daughters and a son, as Tanuja Samarth to poet Kumarsen Samarth and his wife Shobhna Samarth. Kumarsen was a director and cinematographer. Tanuja's parents parted amicably while she was still a child, and Shobhana became linked to actor Motilal. Shobhana produced debut films for Tanuja and her older sister, Nutan. She has two other sisters Chatura, an artist, and Reshma, neither of whom took to acting. Nutan's son, Mohnish Behl is also an actor as are Tanuja's daughters Kajol and Tanisha Mukherjee. Kajol is married to actor Ajay Devgan.
Tanuja was married to Shomu Mukherjee (1943–2008) from 1973 to 2008. He died on April 10, 2008 from a heart attack aged 64.
She started her film career with her older sister Nutan in Hamari Beti (1950) as Baby Tanuja. As an adult, she debuted in the film Chhabili (1960) which was directed by her mother and had her sister, Nutan, in the lead. The film that truly marked her transition into adult heroine came with Hamari Yaad Aayegi (1961), directed by Kidar Sharma, who had earlier discovered Raj Kapoor, Madhubala and Geeta Bali.
One of her early films, noticeable for her acting, was Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi (1966), directed by Shaheed Latif. Incidentally it was Guru Dutt team's last offering, especially visible in the song, "Woh Hanske Mile Humse" (believed to have been picturized while Guru Dutt was still alive) who worked hard to help her "tone down" her performance. The result was that the natural, spontaneous performer gave a highly restrained performance which became the highlight of the film — as well of her career — as she moved to lead roles soon after. Tanuja had an important supporting role in the hit film, Jewel Thief. Her next big film was with Jeetendra, Jeene Ki Raah (1969), an immediate and surprise hit. In the same year, Tanuja won the Best Supporting Actress Filmfare Award for Paisa Ya Pyar. After the success of Haathi Mere Saathi (1971), she acted in Door Ka Raahi, Mere jeevan Saathi, Do Chor and Ek Baar Muskara Do (1972), Kaam Chor, Yaarana, Khuddar, and Masoom. Some of the other films she has acted in are Pavitra Paapi, Bhoot Bangla, and Anubhav. Some of her Marathi films are 'Zaakol', 'Unad Maina' and Pitruroon.
During the mid 1960s Tanuja started a parallel career in Bengali movies in Kolkata starting with Deya Neya (1963) where she was paired opposite Uttam Kumar. She followed it up with Anthony-Firingee (1967) and Rajkumari (1970). Tanuja had on-screen chemistry with Soumitra Chatterjee with whom she made some films like Teen Bhuvaner Parey (1969) and Prothom Kadam Phool. Tanuja spoke her own lines in these Bengali films.
Afterward, Tanuja retired from films for a number of years but came back when her marriage ended. She was now offered supporting roles often starring former heroes. Her Pyar Ki Kahani hero Amitabh Bachchan had to call her "bhabhi" (sister-in-law) in Khuddar (1982). She also played a supporting role in Raj Kapoor's Prem Rog (1982).
She has recently appeared in such films as Saathiya (2002), Rules: Pyaar Ka Superhit Formula (2003), and Khakee (2003) as a supporting actress.
In 2008, Tanuja starred as a judge along with Kajol and Ajay Devgan on Zee TV's family dance series Rock and Roll Family.
In 2013 Tanuja played a widow in Marathi film 'Pitruroon' made by Nitish Bharadwaj. For her role as widow Tanuja has tonsured her head to make her character look authentic.