Lagoo stepped into the film industry at a very young age, where she worked as a child artist
Veteran actor Reema Lagoo was undoubtedly one of Indian cinema’s most beloved and popular supporting actors. For the longest time, the onscreen ‘Maa’ were associated with actresses like Nirupa Roy, or even Sulochana before her. That was until 1989, when the baton was passed on to Reema Lagoo. While Reema Lagoo was an extremely versatile actor, she was most significantly known for her roles as a caring and understanding mother in numerous films. Throughout the 90’s, she played mother to various popular Bollywood stars. The list includes Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Akshay Kumar, Juhi Chawla, and Kajol. Her being typecast for the role of a mother was one of the main regrets in her life and she spoke about it at multiple ocassions. In an interview she gave during the shoot of an advertisement, she confessed, “I was turned into a mother too soon in Hindi films. This seems to happen to actresses often in Bollywood. What you know and what you want doesn’t realy happen to you. You know, a lot of these stars played the role of my son when I was a year younger than them”.
Born on 21st June 1958, to Mandakini Bhadbhade who was a Marathi Stage Actress, Lagoo’s aptitude for acting was noticed when she studied at Pune’s Huzurpaga HHCP High School. After completing her secondary education, she started to act professionally. Another relatively unknown fact about the actress is that she worked at a bank in Mumbai for ten years, where she often participated in inter-bank cultural events. She managed to continue working at the bank while simultaneously pursuing an acting career in both cinema and television. Her name at birth was Nayan Bhadbhade, but she adopted the screen name, Reema Lagoo, after getting married to actor Vivek Lagoo. Unfortunately, their marriage only lasted for three years, after which the two filed for a divorce. They have a daughter, Mrunmayee Lagoo, who is a film and theatre actress and also a theatre director. Neither of them remarried after the end of their marriage. Interestingly, years after their separation, Vivek Lagoo and Reema Lagoo scripted a play called ‘Dusra Silsila’ together.
Lagoo stepped into the film industry at a very young age, where she worked as a child artist. She made her debut in a Marathi film, Sinhasan (1979), which was dirceted by Jabbar Patel. The film also featured Sriram Lagoo and Nana Patekar. While she was a part of critically-acclaimed movies like Govind Nihalani’s Akrosh (1980) where she was featured as a Lavani dancer, her first notable role in Hindi cinema was in Kalyug (1981), directed by Shyam Benegal. She played the part of a submissive wife in the film. Her rise into prominence was further propelled with the Hindi film Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) where she played Juhi Chawla’s mother.
An actor with an unparalleled range, Lagoo showed her humorous side in television shows such as Tu Tu Main Main, Shriman Shrimati, etc. Her childhood friend, Sachin Pilgaonker says, “Everyone remembers her as the goody-goody Hindi film mother, but before that, she had done many years of excellent work in theatre. When she began to be labeled as this Hindi film mother, she decided to do something really different – comedy.”
Lagoo had immense love for Marathi film and theatre. She would return to it whenever it was possible. Her last play was a play called Ke Dil Abhi Bhara Nahin. It was a commercial play, a light-hearted comedy, which beautifully portrayed her versatility as an actor, diametrically opposite to the role of a sweet, docile mother she generally plays, her latest television show Naamkarann portrays her as a mean and manipulative lady, Dayavanti Mehta. One of her dreams were of getting an opportunity to work in an international film, but sadly, that didn’t turn into reality.
Her sudden demise in May of 2017 came as a big shock to the entire nation. She was only 59 years old when she lost her life due to a cardiac arrest. At the time of death, she was described as being ‘’perfectly fine’’ and having “no health issues”. The unfortunate incident was mourned by the entire film industry.
Reema Lagoo was a face that we associated with warmth and kindness and her absence is deeply felt by both the film and television industries as well as the audience who adored her. Seeing her perform, in any capacity is a pleasure to the eyes rewatching the films and shows of which she was a part still leaves a bittersweet feeling in our hearts.
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