Roopa Ganguly (born 25 November 1966) is an 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 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.
Roopa Ganguly rose to renown for her performance in the Bengali television series Muktabandha (1985). She got her first national break in the Hindi TV series Ganadevta (1986) and shot to wider fame and popularity after she had played the character of Draupadi in Baldev Raj Chopra’s Mahabharat (1988 TV series). Her performance in this TV series earned her several awards including Smita Patil Memorial Award. She reprised the role of Draupadi in Baldev Raj Chopra’s Mahabharat Katha. She acted in popular Hindi TV series such as Chandrakanta, Sukanya (1998), Karam Apnaa Apnaa (2007), Kasturi (2009), Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo (2009). Popular Bengali TV series, she acted in, include Streer Patra (1986), Janmabhoomi (1997), Ingeet (2001), Tithir Atithi to name a few. She acted a small part in Mrinal Sen’s Ek Din Achanak (1989). In early nineties, she acted in a number of commercial films, but most of them flopped at the box office. In 1993, she appeared In Goutam Ghose’s National Award winning Bengali film Padma Nadir Majhi (1993), which earned her critical acclaim for her enticing portrayal of Kapila. She garnered critical appreciation for her performance in Sanat Dasgupta’s National Award winning Bengali film Janani (1993). In 1995, she appeared in Amal Ray Ghatak’s Bengali film Ujan, which earned her the BFJA Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1996. She then played the character of Anasuya, an obsessed dancer in Aparna Sen’s National Award-winning Bengali film Yugant (1995). For a long time after that, she was not seen in any strong role till Rituparno Ghosh came to her with the offer of Antarmahal (2005), which earned her critical acclaim as well as the BFJA Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2006. 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 also acclaimed for her performance in Sekhar Das’s National Award winning Bengali film Krantikaal (2005). In January 2006, she was named by The Indian Express in the list of the five most powerful actresses of 2005. She went on to earn further recognition 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 won the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for rendering her voice in Aditi Roy’s Bengali film Abosheshey (2012).
Roopa Ganguly has mostly been approached to play tameless determined characters, rather than usual submissive helpless ones, and has always been identified with characters of strong resolution and free will. She has been applauded for her unwavering roles in films such as Antarmahal (2005), Ek Mutho Chabi (2005) and Dutta Vs Dutta (2012), to name a few. 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.
Roopa Ganguly was married to Dhrubo Mukerjee from 1992 until 2006. They had one child in 1997. 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.Photo Jansatta