Noted Indian film, theatre and television actress in Marathi, Hindi, and Gujarati, Bhakti Barve was admired for her versatility, portraying a range of roles from comedy to tragedy with ease. On screen, she is known for films such as Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983), Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa (1998) and Bichhoo (2000). Her memorable stage performances include Ti Phularani, Nag Mandala, and Aayee Retire Hote Aahe. An announcer on All India Radio and later as a news reader on Doordarshan, she also served as the chairperson of the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Natya Sammelan.
Born on 10 September, 1948 in Sangli, Maharashtra, during her school days she participated in Sudha Karmarkar’s children’s theatre productions. She had a short stint as an announcer on All India Radio; later, she would become a popular face on Doordarshan as a newsreader in Marathi. She also presented the weekly Saptahiki programme. During her stint with Doordarshan, she also played the poetess-saint Bahinabai Choudhary in the telefilm, Bahinabai, produced by the national TV channel. It was critically acclaimed.
Performing on stage, her acting talent came to the fore in plays such as Ajab Nyaya Vartulacha (Strange Justice of the Circle) in 1973, followed by C T Khanolkar’s adaptation of Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle, Mohan Rakesh’s Adhe-adhure, and Ti Phularani (Flower Queen) in 1975. The latter was P L Deshpande’s well-appreciated adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, also translated on the film screen in Jay Lerner’s My Fair Lady. Her rhyming dialogue Mala shikvaila yetos tu gyaan... which she rendered in pigtails would leave the audience thoroughly amused. Even when she was past the age of 50, she continued to charm as the central character, after the role was briefly essayed by Priya Tendulkar and Sukanya Kulkarni respectively. She also won popularity and appreciation in the hit Marathi plays Hands-Up! (1982) and Ranga Mazha Vegala (1991), both of which co-starred Avinash Masurekar. Theatre was her mainstay, and she was associated with leading groups such as Theatre Unit, Indian National Theatre, and Rangayan.
Her career in films saw her feature in Kundan Shah's cult satire Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron. A black comedy, it revolved around two friends attempting to start-up their own photo studio, who come across shady dealings, corruption and murder, and must fight to bring the guilty to light. She played the role of Shobha Sen in the film, acting alongside Naseeruddin Shah, Satish Shah and Ravi Baswani. She also featured as Mrs. Kapadia in Govind Nihalani's Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa, which deals with the life of a woman who loses her son, a Naxalite, to the violence that is a result of his adopted ideology. She essayed a TV interviewer in the action thriller Bichhoo starring Bobby Deol and Rani Mukerjee, which was a remake of the 1994 English-language French action thriller film Léon: The Professional.
Her notable work saw her being awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in Marathi theatre Acting in 1990 by India’s National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama. She was also awarded the Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar, and Abhinay Puraskar.
She was married to actor and director Shafi Inamdar, who had also directed her on stage.
Bhakti Barve passed away on 12 February, 2001 in a car accident on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. She was returning to Mumbai from Wai in Satara district after performing at a stage show; when the mishap occurred. She was 52. She was honoured with a posthumous award at the Indian Telly Awards in 2001 for her contribution to Indian cinema and television.