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Clans in Indian Cinema: Tanuja, Kajol, Rani Mukerji and 4 Generations of Mukherjee-Samarth Family

By: Bohni Bandyopadhyay


Last Updated: April 16, 2021, 14:39 IST

Ayan, Kajol, Rani, Tanisha and Sharbani Mukerji at their family's Durga Puja. Image: Instagram.

Ayan, Kajol, Rani, Tanisha and Sharbani Mukerji at their family's Durga Puja. Image: Instagram.

From Nutan, Tanuja to Kajol, Rani Mukerji and Ayan Mukerji, the Mukherjee-Samarth clan has some of the most well-known actresses and filmmakers in Indian cinema.

The Mukherjee-Samarth family is one of the biggest clans in Indian cinema, spanning four generations and connecting multiple film families. Tanuja, one of the most prominent faces from the Samarth family, married Shomu Mukherjee, from another family of actors and filmmakers. Shomu’s mother was the only sister of the Ganguly brothers Anoop Kumar, Ashok Kumar and Kishore Kumar. The Mukherjees and Samarths came together by marriage between producer Shomu Mukherjee and Tanuja. Their elder daughter Kajol is married to Ajay Devgn, this connecting them to the Devgn family. Kajol’s cousin Rani Mukerji, daughter of Ram Mukherjee, linked them to another major clan of filmmakers, the Chopras, by marrying Aditya Chopra.

Here’s an attempt at simplifying the complex yet interesting family tree of this clan in Indian cinema.

1st generation:

Rattan Bai: She was a singer and actress in the 1930s, when talkies came into being. Rattan Bai is known for films like Sitara (1938), Bhikharan (1935) and Bharat Ki Beti (1935). She was the mother of actress Shobhana Samarth.


2nd generation:

Shobhana Samarth: Rattan Bai’s daughter was an actress, director and producer who began her career in the early days of talkie movies in the Hindi film industry, and continued in lead roles into the 1950s. She starred in Marathi and Hindi films. Shobhana Samarth married Kumarsen Samarth. They had three daughters, Nutan, Tanuja and Chatura and a son, Jaideep. She later produced and directed a pair of movies that launched the careers of her daughters, Nutan and Tanuja. Nalini Jaywant was a cousin of Shobhana Samarth who appeared in Hindi films in the 1940s and 1950s.

Sashadhar Mukherjee: The film producer started his career with Bombay Talkies in the 1930s, and later established Filmistan Studio and his independent studio, Filmalaya. He is noted for films like Dil Deke Dekho (1959), Love in Simla (1960), Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962) and Leader (1964). Sashadhar was married to Sati Devi, whose brothers Anoop Kumar, Ashok Kumar and Kishore Kumar were a part of the film industry. Sashadhar and Sati Devi had six children - four sons and two daughters, namely Rono Mukherjee, Joy Mukherjee, Deb Mukherjee, Shomu Mukherjee, Shibani Maulik and Subir Mukherjee.

3rd generation:

Nutan: In a career spanning nearly four decades, Nutan appeared in more than 70 Hindi films. Regarded as one of the finest actors in Indian cinema, Nutan was noted for playing unconventional parts in films like Sujata (1959), Bandini (1963), Milan (1967) and Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki (1978). She married Lieutenant-Commander Rajnish Bahl of the Indian Navy in 1959. Their only son Mohnish, was born in 1961.

Tanuja: Nutan’s sister took on more commercial projects, and appeared in films in several languages, including Hindi and Bengali. Tanuja is best known for her roles in the Hindi films like Memdidi (1961), Chand Aur Suraj (1965), Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi (1966), Jewel Thief (1967), Nai Roshni (1967), Jeene Ki Raah (1969), Haathi Mere Saathi (1971), Anubhav (1971), Mere Jeevan Saathi (1972) and Do Chor (1972). Her pairings with actors Sanjeev Kumar, Rajesh Khanna and Dharmendra were popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She married filmmaker Shomu Mukherjee and has two daughters, actresses Kajol and Tanisha.

Joy Mukherjee: The son of Sashadhar Mukherjee debuted opposite Sadhana in the film Love in Simla (1960). He then starred with Asha Parekh for several hits like Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon, Love in Tokyo, Ziddi and Hum Hindustani. He later directed Rajesh Khanna in Chailla Babu in 1977 which was a major box office success. His wife’s name is Neelam and they had two sons Monjoy (also known as Toy), Sujoy (also known as Boy) and a daughter Simran.

Ram Mukherjee: The brother of Joy and Shyam Mukerjee, Ram was a film director, producer and screenwriter in Hindi and Bengali cinema. He was one of the founders of Filmalaya Studios, Mumbai. He is most known for his films Hum Hindustani (1960) and Leader (1964), starring Dilip Kumar and Vyjayanthimala. His father Ravindramohan Mukherjee was the elder brother of Sashadhar Mukherjee. Ram’s wife Krishna Mukherjee is a playback singer and sister of Bengali actress Debashri Roy. He directed and produced his daughter Rani Mukerji’s film debut, Biyer Phool in 1996, and produced her Hindi film debut Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat in 1997. Son Raja Mukherjee assisted his father in a few films, before making his acting debut with Bidhatar Khela (2007).

4th generation:

Mohnish Bahl: He received recognition with major projects in both films and television. His film roles were mostly supporting – Maine Pyar Kia, Hum Saath Saath Hain and Hum Aapke Hain Koun are some of his most successful films. He is married to actress Ekta Sohini and they have two children, Pranutan Bahl and Krishaa Bahl. Pranutan made her acting debut with the 2019 film Notebook.

Kajol: The daughter of Tanuja and Shomu Mukherjee made her acting debut with Bekhudi (1992). Her first commercial success was Baazigar (1993), opposite Shah Rukh Khan. She featured with Khan in several blockbusters, including Karan-Arjun, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998). Her portrayal of a psychopath killer in Gupt: The Hidden Truth (1997) and an avenger in Dushman (1998) earned her greater critical appreciation. She was often compared to her aunt Nutan for her acting skills. Kajol earned her spot as one of the most talented actresses in Hindi cinema. Despite taking a break after marriage and kids, she made a comeback with Fanaa and has starred in films like My Name Is Khan (2010), and Dilwale (2015).

Kajol married Ajay Devgn, her co-star in several films, in 1999. They have a daughter Nysa and son Yug.

Tanisha Mukerji: Kajol’s younger sister has starred in films like Neal N Nikki, Sarkar and Tango Charlie. She was also the first runner up of Bigg Boss 7.

Rani Mukerji: Another famous actress from the Mukherjee family, Ram Mukherjee’s daughter recovered quickly from her dud debut and found success with Ghulam and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Her role in Saathiya in 2002 was a turning point in her career, which was following by several successful romantic films like Chalte Chalte (2003), Hum Tum (2004) and Veer-Zaara (2004). Her other popular films include Bunty Aur Babli (2005), Yuva, Black and Paheli. Rani took on more performance oriented roles in recent times, in No One Killed Jessica (2011), Talaash: The Answer Lies Within (2012), Mardaani (2014) and its sequel Mardaani 2 (2019).

Her relationship with filmmaker Aditya Chopra was the topic of fervent tabloid reporting in India, though she refused to publicly talk about it. In April 2014, she married Chopra at a private ceremony in Italy. The following year, she gave birth to their daughter Adira.

Ayan Mukerji: The son of Bengali film actor Deb Mukherjee started his career as an assistant director to Ashutosh Gowariker on Swades (2004). He made his directorial debut at the age of 26 with the coming-of-age comedy Wake Up Sid (2009), which was widely praised. His next release, the 2013 film Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, ranks among the highest-grossing Hindi films ever. There is major anticipation surrounding his next project, a superhero trilogy titled Brahmastra.

Sharbani Mukherjee: The daughter of Shomu and Dev’s brother Rono Mukherjee made her debut with the hit film Border. She is best known for featuring opposite Samir Soni in the song ‘Ghar Aaja Soneya’ sung by Shazia Mansoor. She has also starred in several Malayalam films.

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