Labelled the ‘Mast Mast Girl’, Raveena Tandon’s beauty and glamour quotient have often occupied greater mindshare. However, her award-winning performances are strong reminders of her powerhouse acting ability. Winning the Filmfare Awards Lux New Face of the Year for Patthar Ke Phool (1991), she was nominated for the Filmfare Awards Best Supporting Actress for Laadla (1994), won the National Film Award for Best Actress for Daman: A Victim of Marital Violence (2001), made a clean sweep with Aks (2001) of the Filmfare Awards Special Performance Award, Screen Awards Best Supporting Actress Award, Bollywood Movie Awards Best Supporting Actress, Bollywood Movie Awards Critics Award Female, Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards’ Best Supporting Actress award, and the Awadh Samman Awarded by the Government of Uttar Pradesh. She was also adjudged Best Actress for Satta (2003). There is indeed much more to the actress, model and producer, Raveena Tandon.
Born on 26 October, 1974 in Bombay to parents Veena and filmmaker Ravi Tandon, she schooled at Juhu’s Jamnabai Narsee School. Making waves as a model while at Mithibai College, it wasn’t long before she landed her debut—the hit action film Patthar Ke Phool (1991) opposite Salman Khan. She walked away with the Filmfare Award for New Face of the Year. She consolidated her position with thumping hits such as the top-grossing musical action dramas Mohra (1994), Dilwale (1994) and Laadla (1994), with Mohra and Laadla also marking their presence as the second and seventh-biggest hits of 1994, respectively. While Tandon bagged a Filmfare Award nomination for her performance in Laadla, and featured in the thriller Imtihaan (1994) starring Sunny Deol, it was the cult comedy Andaz Apna Apna (1994) that really made waves. Even though the film under-performed at the box office it has been since hailed among a “collection of excellent comedies” from Hindi cinema, as well as a “cornball classic” and “one of the greatest comedies in recent times”. Raveena was part of the cast along with Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Karisma Kapoor. Her film with Shah Rukh Khan, Zamaana Deewana (1995) did not work but she followed it up with hits such as Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi (1996) and Ziddi (1997).
Even as she established her credentials as a leading actress in Hindi cinema, she took a backseat professionally, rejecting several plum offers and preferring to concentrate on her impending wedding to her frequent co-star Akshay Kumar. Her releases during this period were mainly films which had been completed before she decided to quit acting, such as Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi (1996), Ziddi and Ghulam-E-Mustafa (1997). Interestingly, the first two were huge box office successes, ranking among the highest-grossing Indian films of their respective years of release.
Raveena made a return to films after her engagement was called off. She went on to star in a slew of successful films such as the entertainers Gharwali Baharwali (1998), Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (1998), Dulhe Raja (1998), Anari No.1 (1999), and the Kannada psychological thriller film, Upendra (1999). She won applause for her performance in the more serious crime drama Shool (1999). The new millennium saw Tandon appearing in serious and dramatic roles. Daman: A Victim of Marital Violence (2001), which followed the story of a battered wife directed by Kalpana Lajmi, won her considerable critical acclaim. She also won the National Film Award for her performance as Durga Saikia, the traumatised and abused wife who finally stands up for herself. She left critics and audiences amazed by the depth of her performance, winning much appreciation for her work, as critics wrote in about how she had underlined her presence as a ‘performer of substance’. Her performance in the Amitabh Bachchan, Manoj Bajpayee-starrer Aks (2002) showcased her in an unusual role in the supernatural action thriller. Appreciation poured in for her first negative role tinged with sensuality and poignancy in this Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra directorial, for which she also won the Filmfare Special Performance Award. Playing a woman who must take her politician husband’s place in contesting elections once he is arrested for murder, she won further praise for Satta (2003). She also won appreciation for her performances in Shool (1999), Bulandi (2000), and Dobara (2004), in which she played a schizophrenic.
Venturing into television she featured in the Sahara One television series Sahib Biwi Gulam (2004), and also appeared as talent judge on reality dance shows, including season 1 of CEO's Got Talent on CNBC TV18 with Mahesh Bhatt and Raj Nayak. She also hosted her own talk shows Isi Ka Naam Zindagi (2012) and Simply Baatien With Raveena (2014).
Making a comeback to films post marriage to distributor Anil Thadani, and motherhood, she played a jazz singer in Anurag Kashayp's Bombay Velvet (2015). She delivered another hard-hitting performance in the thriller Maatr (2017), playing a mother out to avenge the rape of her daughter. Her performance was lauded and she gained critical acclaim for her performance. She went on to play a socialite in the Onir-directed romance drama Shab (2017), where she essayed a manipulative mentor who plays her cards cleverly.
Tandon was chairperson of the Children's Film Society of India from 2003 till 2004. She is also a supporter of environmental issues and has worked with PETA since 2002.
She adopted two girls, Pooja and Chhaya, as a single mother in 1995 when the children were 11 and 8, respectively. Marrying film distributor Anil Thadani in 2004, the couple has two children, Rasha and Ranbirvardhan.