Kulbhushan Kharbanda is an Indian actor who is popularly known for playing the role of Shakaal, the antagonist, in the Hindi film Shaan (1980). He is considered one of the most admirable Bollywood villains.
Kulbhushan Kharbanda was born on Saturday, 21 October 1944 (age 78; as of 2022) in Hasan Abdal, district Attock District, Punjab, United Provinces of British India (now, Pakistan). He pursued his bachelor’s degree from Delhi University. After the partition of India, Kulbhushan’s family moved to India from Pakistan. His father’s job included travel had to move to different cities across the country. Kulbhushan did his schooling in Jodhpur, Aligarh, Dehradun, and Delhi. During an interview, Kulbhushan shared that he got admission to the National School of Drama, however, he couldn’t attend it due to the poor conditions of the pass-out students of NSD.
Height (approx.): 5′ 7″
Hair Colour: White
Eye Colour: Brown
Parents & Siblings
There is not much information available about his parents and siblings.
Wife & Children
On 8 December 1965, Kulbhushan got married to Maheshwari Devi Kharbanda. Maheshwari, daughter of Maharaja Ram Singh II of Pratapgarh, Rajasthan, was earlier married to the Maharaja of Kotah.
Kulbhushan Kharbanda and his wife, Maheshwari Devi Kharbanda
Kulbhushan and Maheshwari have a daughter named Shruti Kharbanda. In 2018, Shruti got married to Rohit Navale.
Kulbhushan Kharbanda with his daughter and wife
No. 501, Silver Cascade, Bandra West, Mumbai
After his college was completed, Kulbhushan and his college friends formed a theatre group named Abhiyaan which was short-lived. Later, he joined another theatre group named Tarik. He then moved to Kolkata and started working with the Hindi theatre group ‘Padatik’ under director Shyamanand Jalan. It was during his theatre days in Kolkata when he was offered to work in films and moved to Mumbai.
In 1974, he made his Bollywood debut with the film ‘Nishant,’ which was directed by Shyam Benegal. He played the role of Police Patel in the film.
Kulbhushan Kharbanda (left) with actor Girish Karnad (right) in a still from the film ‘Nishant’ (1974)
In 1980, he appeared in Ramesh Sippy’s critically acclaimed film titled Shaan in which he played Shakaal, a bald antagonist.
Kulbhushan Kharbanda in a still from the film Shaan (1980)
In the 1985 action drama film Ghulami, he played the role of Havaldar Gopi Dada. The role earned him immense popularity and a nomination for the 1986 Filmfare Awards for Best Supporting Actor.
Kulbhushan Kharbanda in a still from the film ‘Ghulami’ (1985)
In 2008, he garnered appreciation for playing the character of Raja Veer Bharmal, Jodhaa’s father, in the historical drama film Jodha Akbar.
Kulbhushan Kharbanda in a still from the film ‘Jodha Akbar’ (2008)
His Lagaan. His role, Raja Puran Singh Chawla, in the sports drama film Lagaan (2001) earned a nomination for the 2002 IIFA Awards for Best Supporting Actor.
Kulbhushan Kharbanda in a still from the film ‘Lagaan’ (2001)
He has acted in six of Deepa Mehta’s movies and all her trilogy films: Earth, Fire and Water. The films by J. P. Dutta in which he appeared include Border (1997) and Refugee (2000). Other Hindi films by Shyam Benegal in which Kulbhushan appeared include Manthan (1976), Bhumika: The Role (1977), and Junoon (1978).
In 1980, he made his Punjabi debut with the film ‘Chan Pardesi,’ which was directed by Chitrarth Singh. Kulbhushan appeared in this film alongside actors Raj Babbar, Amrish Puri, and Rama Vij.
Kulbhushan Kharbanda in a still from the film ‘Chan Pardesi’ (1980)
He has appeared in many Punjabi films including Mahaul Theek Hai (1999), Delhi in a Day (2012), Midnight’s Children (2012), Saadi Love Story (2013), and Kirpaan – The Sword of Honour (2014).
In 2018, Kulbhushan appeared in Amazon Prime’s action crime thriller web series Mirzapur’s seasons 1 and 2 in which he played Satyanand Tripathi aka Bauji.
In 1997, Kulbhushan made his Television debut with the Hindi drama series titled Yeh Hai Mere Apne on ZEE TV. In 2020, he appeared in a BBC Television drama web series titled A Suitable Boy in which he played Karim Chand Seth, Lata’s Nanaji.
He has appeared in Hindi plays such as Teen Farishtay, Hatya Ek Akaar ki, and Atmakatha.
- Actor(s): Balraj Sahni, Motilal, and Naseeruddin Shah
- Director(s): Shyam Benegal, Raj Kapoor, and Ramesh Sippy
- Kulbhushan smokes occasionally.
- Kulbhushan owns a house in Khandala, Maharashtra.
- During an interview, when Kulbhushan was asked which medium of acting he preferred, he replied,
I refused films to do plays! I lost out on lakhs of rupees. But I never complained. It was a choice I had made and I could afford it that time. Funnily enough, during our times in the film industry, if I told someone I was working in a play, they would ask me why I was wasting time! So I used to lie to people when I had to go rehearse or perform for my plays. Back then, people respected an actor only if he was working in movies.”
- In 2011, Kulbhushan fell while horse riding and injured his back. He was offered a role by director Vinay Sharma in the film Atmakatha. But he refused the offer; however, Vinay Sharma waited for him to recover fully.
- In 2015, he won the Lifetime Achievement Award at PTC Punjabi Film Awards.
- When Kulbhushan was residing in Kolkata as a theatre artist, director Shyam Benegal wanted him to work in his film ‘Nishant’ (1974). Kulbhushan thought it would be a waste of time and effort to travel to Bombay from Kolkata, so he refused; however, Shyam Benegal was so eager that he sent him plane tickets.