Roopa GangulyPolitician, Actress
(born 25 November 1966) is an Indian actress, playback singer and politician. She is best known for her rendition of Draupadi in B R Chopra’s hit television series Mahabharat (1988). Often promoted as the Bengali Film Industry’s answer to Bollywood’s Shabana Azmi, she is known for her versatility and accent adaptation.She has worked with directors such as Mrinal Sen, Aparna Sen, Goutam Ghose and Rituparno Ghosh. She is a trained Rabindra Sangeet vocalist and a classical dancer. She received several awards including a National Award and two BFJA Awards. In October 2015, she was nominated as a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, by the President of India. She served as the President of BJP Mahila Morcha in West Bengal. She served as the General Secretary and the Vice President for the West Bengal Motion Picture Artistes’ Forum, a body representing cine artistes.
Her first acting assignment was Bijoy Chatterjee’s Hindi short film Nirupama (1986) based on Rabindranath Tagore’s Bengali short story Dena Paona and broadcast on DD National. Her breakthrough role came with the Bengali TV series Muktabandha (1987) directed by Ramaprasad Banik. She made her big screen debut opposite Chiranjeet in Prabhat Roy’s Bengali film Prateek (1988). In 1988, she achieved national recognition for her role in the Hindi TV series Ganadevta and shot to wider fame and popularity after she played Draupadi in B. R. Chopra’s Mahabharat (1988-90). Her performance in this TV series earned her several awards including Smita Patil Memorial Award. She reprised the role of Draupadi in Chopra’s Mahabharat Katha. She acted in popular Hindi TV series such as Kanoon (1993), Chandrakanta (1994), Karam Apnaa Apnaa (2007), Kasturi (2009), Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo (2009). Popular Bengali TV series, she acted in, include Janmabhoomi (1997), Draupadi (2000), Ingeet (2001), Tithir Atithi to name a few.
She achieved critical acclaim for her performance in National Award winning Bengali films such as Padma Nadir Majhi (1993) by Goutam Ghose,Janani (1993) by Sanat Dasgupta and Yugant (1995) by Aparna Sen. She received BFJA Award for Best Supporting Actress twice for her roles in Amal Ray Ghatak’s Ujan (1995) and Rituparno Ghosh’s Antarmahal (2005). In the same year, she acted in the role of a conceited actress in Anjan Dutt’s Tarpor Bhalobasa, which once again earned her critical acclaim. She was conferred with Osian’s Cinefan Festival Special Jury Mention for her role in Antarmahal (2005).She was awarded in the Best Actress in a Leading Role category for her role in Sekhar Das’s National Award winning Bengali film Krantikaal (2005) at the 9th Dhaka International Film Festival. In January 2006, she was named by The Indian Express in the list of the five most powerful actresses of 2005. She was further acclaimed for her roles in films such as Kaaler Rakhal (2009), Chowrasta – The Crossroads of Love (2009), Chaurahen (2012), Na Hannyate (2012), Dutta Vs Dutta (2012) and Punascha (2014). In 2011, she received the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for rendering her voice in Aditi Roy’s Bengali film Abosheshey (2012). Goutam Ghose said that “she has that skill to transform herself into any character she plays.” Rituparno Ghosh described her as “a roisterer of pathos and exuberance through the portrayal of her characters.” Mira Nair described her as “one of those most confident and powerful actresses around.”
In 2015, Ganguly joined Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of 2016 West Bengal Legislative Assembly election.
In West Bengal Assembly elections 2016, Ganguly lost from Howrah North to Trinamool Congress counterpart and cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla.
She was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in October 2016 in place of cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu, who resigned earlier.
Ganguly was married to Dhrubo Mukerjee, a mechanical engineer hailing from West Bengal, Kolkata from 1992 until 2006. They have one child, a son, born in 1997, Aakash Mukherjee.She was also in a live-in relationship with her singer companion, Dibyendu. The couple lived in Ganguly’s Mumbai flat until the end of their relationship.