Amol Palekar

On this date in 1944, Amol Palekar, one of the most beloved leading men in Indian cinema, was born in Mumbai. An acclaimed actor, director and painter, Palekar carved a niche for himself as an “everyman” grappling with life and love on the big screen.

Palekar graduated from the Sir J.J. School of Arts, Mumbai, and initially chose painting as a profession. He soon transitioned to Marathi and Hindi-language theater and then to movies. It was in 1970s cinema that he made his mark. He presented an alternative to the typical Bollywood heroes of the time and left such an impact with his endearing presence that Indian film lovers remember him fondly to this day.

In a range of comedies and dramas, Palekar offered viewers a reflection of their own lives. He also performed in a number of regional language movies. Palekar decided to largely quit acting in the mid-1980s and went on to direct many critically acclaimed films and TV serials in Marathi and Hindi that often spotlighted gender issues.

His performances and the movies he’s made have won several honors over the years. Palekar has described himself as both atheist and agnostic. He was good friends with Narendra Dabholkar, the assassinated founder of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (a group that FFRF honored in 2019 with the Avijit Roy Courage Award), and with fellow freethinking actor Shriram Lagoo.

He co-signed a petition in 2019 with hundreds of other prominent artistes appealing to Indians to “help safeguard the Constitution and our syncretic, secular ethos” by voting the Hindu Nationalist government of Narendra Modi out of power.

Freedom From Religion Foundation