Reena Roy: The Underrated superstar of Bollywood

Born Roopa Rai, she was the third child of Sharda Rai and Sadiq Ali. Her parents divorced after having four children and disowned their father. 
Having a natural flair for film dancing, Roopa Rai, now with a new identity as Reena Roy started dancing at various entertainment shows in her early teens to support her mother and siblings. Starting with this, her story got interesting with each and every passing day. Let's know more about her here:
 

Roopa had a very pretty face. Her resemblance to Asha Parekh helped her get film offers. After signing her for the movie Nai Duniya Naye Log, she officially became Reena Roy. However, the film was temporarily shelved and she made her debut with Ishara’s Zaroorat (1972).

Reena Roy Glamorous
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Reena had no formal training in acting and was too young to understand the intricacies of her character in Zaroorat. B.R.Ishara had a tough time handling her in scenes with high emotional intensity and predicted that she won’t last more than a year in the industry. But Reena proved him wrong, and how!

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With her professional attitude, punctuality and ability to learn, she started getting more offers. She tasted commercial success with AVM’s Jaise Ko Taisa (1973), her first film with Jeetendra with whom she did many more films later. Jeetendra and Reena Roy have worked in 22 films together out of which in 17 movies they were paired romantically.

Reena Roy with Jeetendra
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Reena also worked with various other superstars. With Shatrughan Sinha, she has worked as a romantic pair in 16 films and 11 were hits from 1972 to 1982. Rajesh Khanna and Reena Roy also delivered four successful films – Dhanwan, Dharam Kanta, Asha Jyoti and Hum Dono.

Reena Roy with Shatru
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After making her presence felt in Zakhmee (1975), she danced her way into the hearts of the audience with her foot tapping number “Jaa Re Jaa O Harjaee...” from Kalicharan (1976). The film also established her hit pairing with Shatrughan Sinha. The film that made her a star was Rajkumar Kohli’s Nagin (1976), a role rejected by several top heroines of the day. 

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Beides scaling new heights with Udhar Ka Sindoor (1976), Vishwanath (1978) and Badaltey Rishtey (1978), she wowed the audience with her career-best role in J.Om Prakash’s Apnapan (1978). Playing Kamini Agarwal, a character with grey shades, Reena completely had the audience on her side by the time the film ended.

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J.Om Prakash’s Aasha (1980) was declared the biggest hit of the year. Later, when Reena played the title role in Aasha, she successfully mesmerised her fans with “Sheesha Ho Ya Dil Ho” and secured her place as one of the top 3 actresses of the day, Hema Malini and Rekha being the other two.

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She delivered hits like Sau Din Saas Ke (1980) on the strength of her box-office pull. Heroes who had earlier shied away from working with her started recommending her. She managed to overshadow her co-stars in her 1981with  releases like Naseeb, Dhanwan, Rocky, Ladies Tailor & Pyaasa Saawan.

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Choreographer Saroj Khan maintains that Reena Roy has always been her favourite actress as a dancer. Though she competed professionally with Rekha, off-screen they were good friends. Rekha helped Reena improve her costume sense and hair-styles. Reena Roy and Rekha did many hit films together.

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She also worked in Punjabi movies namely Sat Sri Akal (1977) & Walayati Babu (1981). Besides being superstar Rajnikant’s first heroine in his Hindi debut Andha Kanoon (1983), Reena was the first Bombay producer to sign Kamal Haasan for Sanam Teri Kasam (1982), her home production.

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Reena Roy reached the zenith of her career in 1982 with 13 releases and 10 hits. More author-backed roles followed in 1983 with Arpan, Prem Tapasya & Naukar Biwi Ka but Reena decided to quit films and married Pakistani cricketer Mohsin Khan and settled in London and later in Karachi.

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She finished her pending work by December 1983 though her films continued to release until 1988. She gave birth to her daughter Jannat in July 1987 and returned to India when Mohsin wanted to try his luck in Bollywood. 

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Mohsin could not make much headway in Hindi films. Clashes between the couple led to their divorce & Mohsin returned to Pakistan with their daughter.  In the meantime, Reena’s favourite director, J.Om.Prakash offered her the central role in Aadmi Khilona Hai (1993) and thus began Reena’s second innings.

Reena Roy & Mohsin Khan
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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.

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She continued acting for a few years. In retrospect, Reena Roy remains one of the most under-rated actresses of her times, who made it to the top solely on her hard work and without a romantic lead opposite Amitabh Bachchan in any film.

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