Popular actor Raj Babbar has featured in several films in the course of his career, playing a range of both positive and negative roles. An alumnus of the National School of Drama, he made his Hindi film debut with Kissa Kursi Ka in 1977. Shocking audiences with his onscreen villainy in Insaaf Ka Tarazu (1980), he played the antagonist in many films including Saazish (1988), Aankhen (1993), Dalaal (1993), Andaz (1994), The Gambler (1995), Yaarana (1995), Barsaat (1995), Ziddi (1997), Gundagardi (1997), Daag the Fire(1999), and Indian (2001). He has also played positive roles in films such as Nikaah (1982), Agar Tum Na Hote (1983), Aaj Ki Awaz (1984), and Ghayal (1990). Simultaneously active in Punjabi cinema, he has delivered noteworthy performances in the art films Chann Pardesi (1980), Long Da Lishkara (1986), and Marhi Da Deeva (1989), as well as in commercial productions such as Aasra Pyar Da (1983), Mahaul Theek Hai (1999), Shaheed Uddham Singh (2000), Yaaran Naal Baharan (2005), Ek Jind Ek Jaan (2006), and more. Babbar has also enjoyed a successful career in politics, being elected thrice to the Lok Sabha, and twice to the Rajya Sabha.
He was born 23 June, 1952 in Tundla, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, into a Punjabi family. Completing his education from Mufid-E-Aam Inter College, Agra, he graduated from Agra College and is an alumnus of the National School of Drama class of 1975. Moving to Bombay, he started his career in films with Kissa Kursi Ka in 1977. He went on to star opposite Reena Roy in Sau Din Saas Ke (1980). The same year, he made a mark with his portrayal of a playboy rapist in B R Chopra’s Insaaf Ka Tarazu (1980). In the film, his character assaults the heroine Zeenat Aman, and later her sister, and is eventually shot and killed by the heroine. The film stirred considerable controversy over its exploitative depiction of the rape of the character played by the 13-year-old Padmini Kolhapure. However, this did not impact the film’s success at the box office.
Babbar was a fixture in films produced by the B R Chopra banner, featuring in productions such as Nikaah (1982) with Deepak Parashar and Salma Agha, and in Aaj Ki Aawaz (1984) with Smita Patil.
His career in Punjabi cinema met with success, as he delivered praise-worthy performances in a trio of serious films, namely Chann Pardesi (1980), Long Da Lishkara (1986), and Marhi Da Deeva (1989). Other hit Punjabi films he featured in include Aasra Pyar Da (1983), Mahaul Theek Hai (1999), Shaheed Uddham Singh (2000), Yaaran Naal Baharan (2005), Ek Jind Ek Jaan (2006), Apni Boli Apna Des (2009) and Tera Mera Ki Rishta (2009).
Babbar was seen essaying negative roles in films such as Saazish (1988), Aankhen (1993), Dalaal (1993), The Gambler (1995), Andaz (1994), Yaarana (1995), Barsaat (1995), Ziddi (1997), Gundagardi (1997), Daag the Fire (1999), and Indian (2001). He delivered some of his best performances in Insaaf Ka Tarazu, Agar Tum Na Hote, Aaj Ki Awaaz, Dalaal (1993), and Yaraana (1995), all of which also bagged him nominations for awards.
Launching his own production company, Babbar Films Pvt. Ltd. along with his brother Kishan, he has produced two feature films, namely Karm Yodha (1992) and Kash Aap Hamare Hote (2003), as well as the tele-serial Maharaja Ranjit Singh (2010).
His career in television saw him featuring as King Bharat in the early episodes of the popular TV series Mahabharat. In the series on Bahadur Shah Zafar (1986), he essayed the role of Akbar. He has also acted in serials such as Pukaar - Call For The Hero, directed by Vipul Amrutlal Shah. He is credited with creating the historical drama television series Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Aired on DD National, it was based on the life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and covers the part of history of Punjab from 1739 to 1812.
Raj Babbar moved into the realm of politics, being elected as Member of Parliament of India three times. From 1994 to 1999 he was a member of the Rajya Sabha.
Married to Nadira Zaheer, daughter of noted theatre personality Sajjad Zaheer, the couple had two children, Juhi Babbar and Arya Babbar. He also married actress Smita Patil, and had a son Prateik Babbar.