Tanuja Samarth, prominently known as Tanuja, is a renowned Indian actress who is best known for her exceptional work in both Hindi and Bengali films such as Memdidi (1961), Chand Aur Suraj (1965), Haathi Mere Saathi (1971), and Do Chor (1972). She is the mother of famous Indian actresses Kajol Kajol and Tanishaa.
Tanuja was born in 1943 The Times of India (age 80 years; as of 2023) in Bombay Presidency, British India (now Mumbai, Maharashtra, India), into a Marathi family. Tanuja’s childhood was centred on films and cameras as four generations of the Samarth family have been a part of the film industry.
Her keen interest in the movies was naturally imbibed in her genes because of her parents. She attended St. Joseph’s, Panchgani India, and St. George’s, Switzerland.
Height (approx.): 5′ 1″
Hair Colour: Natural Black
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Parents & Siblings
Tanuja’s mother, Shobhna Samarth, was an actress, and her father, Kumarsen Samarth, was a filmmaker.
Tanuja has three sisters, Nutan, Chatura, and Reshma, and one brother, Jaideep. Her sister Nutan is also an actress, while Chatura is an artist.
My parents separated before my brother was born: When my parents went their own ways, Jaideep was yet to be born. But although they were no longer husband and wife, they were still Mom and Dad for us. In fact, Dad came to meet us almost everyday. Around then, Mom decided that I would study at St George’s in Switzerland because I had a flair for languages. While in Switzerland, Dad wrote to me in German and I always replied in German. “
Husband & Children
Tanuja met the late filmmaker Shomu Mukherjee on the set of the film Ek Baar Muskura Do (1972), and they instantly fell in love with each other and got married in 1973.
The couple welcomed their first child, Kajol, in 1974, and later had another baby, Tanishaa, in 1978.
Later, the couple separated: however, they decided to co-parent their two daughters.
Tanuja is an aunt to a few famous Bollywood names such as Mohnish Bahl (actor), Ayan Mukerji (director), Sujoy Mukherjee (actor), and Rani Mukerji (actor). Rattan Bai, her grandmother, and Nalini Jaywant, her cousin, were also actresses.
Tanuja kickstarted her career with her elder sister Nutan in her debut movie, Humari Beti (1950), which was produced by their mother, Shobhna Samarth.
The turning point of Tanuja’s career was the film Humari Yaad Aayegi (1961) in which she played the role of Manorama. Tanuja didn’t restrict herself to only Hindi movies as she started working in Bengali and Marathi movies. She was praised for her amazing comic timing in Do Duni Char, starring Kishor Kumar. Tanuja was also a part of Antony Firingee, the Indian Biographical Musical Drama Film directed by Sunil Banerjee in 1967, starring Uttam Kumar and Tanuja as lead actors; the film did exceptionally well at the box office. In 1969, she appeared in Jeene Ki Raah alongside Jeetendra.
Tanuja started her television journey in 1985 with the show ‘Khandaan’ on Doordarshan. It gained amazing viewership and went on to become the first long-running soap opera in India. In 1994, Tanuja was cast in the TV series ‘Junoon.’ It was initially aired on Doordarshan and was broadcasted for five years, setting a record for the ‘longest-running prime-time program’ on Doordarshan. In 2008, Tanuja appeared as a judge on Zee TV’s family dance series Rock-N-Roll Family alongside her daughter Kajol Kajol and son-in-law Ajay Devgn Ajay Devgn.
In 2017, Tanuja appeared in the historical fiction television series ‘Aarambh: Kahaani Devsena Ki,’ which was produced by Rose Audio Visuals and was telecasted on StarPlus.
- Filmfare Best Supporting Actress for Paisa Ya Pyaar (1970)
- Filmfare Awards East for Best Actress for Adalat o Ekti Meye (1981)
- Nominated for Filmfare Awards for Best Supporting Actress for Jewel Thief (1968)
- Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award (2014)
- Bengal Film Journalists Association Awards for Best Supporting Actress (Hindi), Benazir (1964)
- 20th Life OK Screen Awards for Best Actress Award for Marathi Movie Pitruroon (2013)
- Apsara Film & Television Producers Guild Award- Lifetime Achievement Honour (2014)
- Tanuja slapped Dharmendra during the shoot of Chand aur Suraj (1965) because the latter tried to flirt with her.
- Tanuja didn’t like how her voice sounded when she first saw the raw footage of her first film.
- Tanuja was notorious for ‘breaking rules’ when she was on a film set.
- Tanuja was a very strict parent, and she used to beat up Kajol on a regular basis.
- According to Tanuja, she doesn’t watch her or anybody else’s films, except Kajol’s.
- Tanuja’s mother, Shobhana, produced debut films for Tanuja and Nutan both.