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Shifting roles, yet ‘keeping it real’

chandigarh Updated: Apr 03, 2014 11:17 IST
Monica Sharma
Monica Sharma
Hindustan Times
Kirron Kher

Brought up in a Jat Sikh family in Chandigarh, Kirron Kher sure knows how to shift from one role to another with ease.

The actress-cum-reality show judge-cum-politician changes her attitude with each role — a doting mother when interacting with youngsters, a tough taskmaster with the politicians and an embodiment of women empowerment while interacting with women.

But Kher, who is 61 years old now according to her poll affidavit, is best known by the current generation as the quintessentially loud, Punjabi mummyji thanks to her numerous film roles.


Kher went to school in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, and also for a few years in Chandigarh before graduating from the then Government College for Women, Sector 11.

At the university level, she was a promising badminton player like her sister, Arjuna awardee Kanwal Thakar Kaur. Both “Thakar sisters” believe sports run in their blood. Their mother Diljit Kaur was active in sports and dramatics during her college days in pre-Partition Punjab.

Kher stayed in Chandigarh from 1968 to 1974, as her armyman father Thakar Singh settled in the city after retirement. The family otherwise belongs to Kirrian village in Amritsar.

She recalls winter holidays in childhood spent at Kirrian village with her pater nal g randparents, and summer holidays in Gurdaspur with her maternal grandparents.

She was a student of the department of Indian theatre at Panjab University in 1974, when legendary playwright Balwant Gargi was the head of department. She also did her MA in English and remembers her Panjab University days as the best.


She was first married to businessman-actor Gautam (Kapil) Berry, with whom she has a son, Sikander Kher. In 1985, that marriage ended in divorce, and she later married actor Anupam Kher, whom she had known since university days.

She had reached Mumbai in 1977 after she was spotted by legendary actress Nargis Dutt for a movie ‘Insaan Jag Utha’, though that movie never materialised. “During the initial two years in Mumbai, it was lonely and awkward for me, till I made some friends in South Mumbai,” says Kher, adding that she never had “filmy” friends in Mumbai other than the Dutt family.

She finally hit the screen in 1983 with Punjabi film ‘Aasra Pyar Da’. Since then, there has been no looking back. It was during her spell in Bollywood that she came close to Anupam, for whom she worked as a costume designer. In 1988, she appeared in ‘Pestonjee’ alongside Anupam.

The two go back to their PU theatre department days. Kirron says that during those days Anupam was her best friend. They again got in touch in Mumbai where the chemistry between the two changed when Anupam professed love for Kirron.

“Anupam can make you feel good in any situation. His sense of humour and connection with people makes him special. We both are real people and have not picked up the airs of stardom.” She has acted in 24 movies, and counting, and has got appreciation roles in ‘Sardari Begum’ and ‘Khamosh Pani’.


Joining the BJP in 2009, campaigning across the country. The campaign brought her to Chandigarh in 2011 for the municipal corporation elections.

“It’s not today, when I have been asked to contest, that I have become interested in politics. I felt extremely concerned for the people of Punjab during the 1984 riots and militancy days. The Partition decision taken by the then PM Jawaharlal Nehru affected all of us. My mother’s family moved from what is now Pakistan Punjab. The Congress destroyed India.”

Adding to her tirade, she says, “It is only the BJP that gave dignity to the film business by giving it industry status.”