A doyenne of Gujarati theatre and a social activist with a career that spanned nearly six decades, Dina Pathak made a rather late entry into films. Even with limited time at her disposal, she had acted in more than 100 films by the end of her distinguished career.
Born in Amreli (in present-day Gujarat), Dina Pathak was interested in acting from a very young age. As part of the Indian National Theatre Dina had a very successful stint in Gujarati theatre, specializing in the Bhavai folk form, which was used extensively in the pre-independence period as a mode of resistance against British rule. Along with her sisters, she was associated with the IPTA as well. One of her plays, Maina Gurjari became so popular that she was invited to perform for the then President Dr. Rajendra Prasad at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. It still remains one of the most popular Gujarati plays of all time.
Her debut film was a Gujarati film Kariyawar (1948). Following this, she did not act in films for nearly two decades after, continuing her association with IPTA and forming her own theatre group Natmandal.
She made a comeback with Uski Kahani in 1966, and this proved to be the beginning of a memorable phase. Acting in movies like Satyakam (1969), Mausam (1975), Chitchor (1976), Gharaonda (1977), Bhumika (1977) and Kinara (1977), she established herself as a favourite artiste to play the roles of mother or grandmother in both art and commercial movies. Other notable performances include her roles in Gol Maal (1979), Khubsoorat (1980), Mirch Masala (1987) and Tamas (1988). The success of Gol Maal and Khubsoorat made her extremely popular and her performances in both these films are remembered till date. She continued to act through the 1990s making appearances in many popular films such as Raja Babu (1993), Yaarana (1995), Lajja(2001),Devdas(2002) and Pinjar (2003).
Dina Pathak also had a successful stint in Gujarati films. Meanwhile, she continued to be committed to her involvement in theatre. Both her daughters Ratna Pathak Shah and Supriya Pathak have continued the vast legacy left behind as actresses in television, cinema and theatre. After a long, full life, Dina Pathak succumbed to a heart attack on 11 October 2002.