Lillete Dubey

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Lillete Dubey
Lillete Dubey at Marigold Premiere.jpg
Lillete Dubey at the premiere of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in 2015
Lillete Keswani[1]

(1953-09-07) 7 September 1953 (age 67)[2]
OccupationActress, director
Ravi Dubey
(m. 1978; died 2015)
ChildrenNeha Dubey
Ira Dubey
RelativesLushin Dubey (sister)

Lillete Dubey (born 7 September 1953) is an Indian stage and film actress and a theatre Director. She has worked in national and international theatre, television and films, (Hindi and English). Dubey began her career with Barry John in Delhi and was the founding member of his group -Theatre Action Group (TAG) in 1973 . In 1991 she set up her own Theatre Company- The Primetime Theatre Company.[3][4][5]

Ms. Dubey is best known for her acclaimed performances in films like Zubeida, Monsoon Wedding (Winner Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival) Baghban, Kal Ho Na Ho, My Brother Nikhil, Delhi in a Day, Bow Barracks Forever (Best Actress Filma Madrid International Film Festival), 3 Days to Go (Best Actress Simon Sabela Awards, KZN South Africa), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (BAFTA- Best Ensemble Cast) and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Sonata.[6][7]

In theater, she is known for her work like Adhe Adhure (Best Actress Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards) and ’Dance Like a Man’[8][9]

Early life[edit]

Ms Dubey was born in Pune to Sindhi Hindu parents.[10] Her father, Gobind Keswani, was an engineer with the Indian Railways, and her mother, Lila Keswani, was a gynaecologist from Lady Harding who later worked with the Indian Army.[1][2][11] After Ms Dubey's birth the family moved to Bikaner and later to Lucknow where she studied at Loretto Convent  and then went to Rustom Boarding school in Pune. After Rustoms, she came to Delhi and studied at Carmel Convent.

.[1][2] When she was in Class IX, the family moved back to Pune and she joined St. Mary's (Pune), where she first started acting. Her earliest role was that of Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest. As she was good at academics, her parents were keen on her pursuing Science, however, Ms Dubey wanted to study Arts. After a great deal of persuasion she was allowed to study English literature at Lady Shri Ram College (LSR). It was during this period that she met her husband Ravi Dubey who was doing his M.A in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics. She completed her M.A in English from LSR and her second master's degree in mass communications from IIMC. She married Ravi Dubey on 12 September 1978.[12][13]

Personal life & Family[edit]

Lillete's husband Ravi Dubey was the youngest-ever General Manager of the Taj Mansingh hotel and rose to be the Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications at the Tata Group before he quit in 2004. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2015.[14]

The couple have two daughters, Neha and Ira, both of whom have played a variety of small and supporting roles in theatre, film and television. Additionally, Neha is a psychotherapist with an independent practice in Mumbai.

Lillete is the eldest of three siblings. She has a sister, Lushin, (named after Ilyushin, a Russian aircraft), and a brother, Patanjali, named in honour of the ancient rishi who compiled the Yoga Sutras. He is the founder of the Lemon Tree hotel group.[2] Lushin is the wife of Pradeep Dubey, a noted academic.[citation needed]



Ms Dubey's entry into films was quite by chance when her husband was posted to Mumbai in 1995, and she has often called herself an 'accidental film actress’. She debuted with the film Love You Hamesha starring Akshay Khanna and Sonali Bendre in 1999. The movie was directed by Kailash Surendranath. After that, she played a supporting character in Bawandar, directed by Jag Mundhra and starring Nandita Das, in 2000. It was based on the story of a rape victim, Bhanwari Devi, from Rajasthan.[15] Her career breakthrough was in 2001 when she essayed the role of Aunty Rose in Shyam Benegal's classic Zubeida and won many hearts and next as Shabana, the mother of the female protagonist Sakeena (played by Amisha Patel) in the movie Gadar: Ek Prem Katha. Her second hit, Monsoon Wedding, came out later in the same year and became yet another milestone in her film career.[16] Divya Unny from Open (Indian magazine) said,

"She acted in her first film Zubeidaa (2001) at the age of 47 which would have been considered a late start for an actor. Even as an independent actor, Dubey created a niche. She has defied expectations many times on screen. She was the only actress her age who could carry off smoking a cigarette in a shiny blouse and petticoat, with rollers in her hair, in Monsoon Wedding (2001)."[17]

The following year, in 2002, she again portrayed the role of one of the lead characters’ mother in the movie Om Jai Jagadish, directed by Anupam Kher. Her on-screen daughter was Urmila Matondkar. Another of her memorable roles was that of ‘Shanti Patel’, the wife of Paresh Rawal in Baghban (2003).[18]

The role that gained a lot of attention was that of Jaswinder "Jazz" Kapoor in Kal Ho Naa Ho, in 2003. She played Jazz, an older female character that is fierce, unapologetic, and in touch with her sexuality.[19] In 2004 she played the role of Preity Zinta's reel mother in the movie Lakshya. The film was directed by Farhan Akhtar and starred Hrithik Roshan as the male lead. In the same year, she also worked in Anjan Dutt's Bow Barracks Forever, a film that revolved around the troubles faced by the Anglo-Indian people to keep up their lifestyle, in the post-independence era and which won her the Best Actress award at the Madrid International Film Festival.[16]

Dubey was reported to be joining the cast of Qubool Hai 2 that is to be released in 2021.[20]


Dubey has been acting for over 40 years, and  has played the lead in over 60 productions ranging from Shakespeare, Greek Tragedy, Brecht, Musical Comedies, Farce, Contemporary Drama, Absurd Theatre, to Contemporary Drama, including Ibsen, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Pinter, Dario Fo, Edward Albee, and Indian playwrights like Vijay Tendulkar, Partap Sharma, Mahesh Dattani, Girish Karnad, Mahesh Elkunchwar.[21][22]


Dubey has worked television

Lillete has also hosted her own talk show for TIMES NOW called ‘By Invitation Only.[25]

Web Series[edit]

Lillete worked on a web series for Zee5, Akoori[26] and a long short film  ‘Seasons Greetings’ with Celina Jaitley.[27] Her short film works include Sonata & Purana Pyaar.[28]

Curation and Jury[edit]

  • Jury at Osian's Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema[29]
  • Theater for Curator for Serendipity Arts Festival[30]
  • Jury for Mahindra Excellence in Theatre awards (META)[31]
  • The RedInk Awards[32]


Films that have not yet been released Denotes films that have not yet been released
Year Film Role Notes
1997 Kabhie Kabhie TV series
1999 Love You Hamesha
2000 Bawandar (English: Sandstorm) Socialite
2001 Zubeidaa Rose Davenport
2001 Gadar: Ek Prem Katha Shabana
2001 Monsoon Wedding Pimmi Verma
2002 Om Jai Jagadish Neetu's mom
2002 Kitne Door... Kitne Paas
2003 Pinjar Tara- Puro's mother
2003 Johnny
2003 Chalte Chalte Anna Mausi (Priya's aunt)
2003 Baghban Shanti Patel
2003 Kal Ho Naa Ho Jaswinder "Jazz" Kapoor
2004 Lakshya Mrs. Dutta, Romila's mother
2004 Vanity Fair Ms. Green credited as Lillette Dubey
2004 Morning Raga Mrs. Kapoor
2004 Sau Jhooth Ek Sach Moushami Pradhan
2004 Bow Barracks Forever Emily Lobo
2005 My Brother…Nikhil Anita Rosario Kapoor
2005 Main Aisa Hi Hoon Ritu
2005 Dosti: Friends Forever Kiran Thapar
2006 Fanaa Helen (Zooni's Instructor)
2006 Corporate Devyani Bakshi
2006 Aap Ki Khatir Betty A. Khanna
2007 My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves Bharucha (Movie Director)
2007 Har Pal
2008 Saas Bahu Aur Sensex Anita B. Jethmalani
2008 Fauj Mein Mauj
2009 Phoonk Dr. Seema Walke
2009 Hari Puttar: A Comedy of Terrors Santosh 'Toshi'
2009 Mumbai Calling Amar's Mother TV Series (season 1 episode 4 Boy to Man)
2010 Bollywood Beats Jyoti
2010 I Am 24
2010 Fun in the Army
2010 Pankh Mary D'Cunha
2010 Housefull Zulekha Bano
2010 Break Ke Baad Pammi J. Gulati
2011 Always Kabhi Kabhi Ms Das
2012 Na Jaane Kabse Monika
2012 Delhi in a Day Kalpana
2012 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Mrs. Kapoor British film
2012 I M 24
2012 Shobhna's Seven Nights Malishka
2012 Heroine Mrs. Arora
2013 Chashme Baddoor Ms Josephine
2013 Dabba (The Lunchbox) Ila's mother
2014 One by Two Samara Patel's mother
2014 Dr. Cabbie Nellie Canadian film
2014 Bhaiyyaji Superhit delayed
2015 The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Mrs. Kapoor
2015 A Million Rivers Roop
2016 Aksar 2
2017 Sonata
2019 3 Days to Go Matriarch Lakshmi Isaac South African Film
2020 Unpaused Archna
TBA Desi Magic Mrs. Saxena
TBA Tadka Samantha
2021 Blind dagger TBA Filming[33]
Short films
Year Title Role Language Notes
2018 Purana Pyaar Mrs. Sharma Hindi Finalist for Filmfare Short Film Awards[34][35]


Year Show Channel Role Notes
1997 Idhar Udhar DD National Shobhna Episode 16
Indian Summers Channel 4 Roshana Dalal British series
2017 Adhe Adhure Hotstar Savitri Teleplay
Also Director
Hotstar Original Series
Dance Like A Man Ratna
2018 Love Handles (Ep05 - #PuranaPyaar) Gorilla Shorts - YouTube Mrs. Sharma Romantic Comedy Web Series
2018 Akoori (web series) Zee5 Rita Shah Comedy Web Series
2019 Queen (web series) MX Player Interviewer


  1. ^ a b c "Lillete's world". The Hindu (Metro Plus). 16 December 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Lillete Dubey: The drama of life". The Times of India (Delhi Times). 26 May 2002.
  3. ^ "Profiles : Snapping up life". The Hindu (Metro Plus). 7 July 2008.
  4. ^ "Gauhar- Produced by The Primetime Theatre Co. and directed by Lillette Dubey". The Hindu. 25 July 2019. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  5. ^ "Lillete Dubey's theatre company, Primetime Theatre Co., celebrates 25 years... :". Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  6. ^ "PNC's Bow Barracks Forever wins Best Actress at FilmaMadrid International Film Festival 2008 « Pritish Nandy Communications Ltd. |". Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  7. ^ " - Your favorite newspapers and magazines". Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  8. ^ "A feast of theatre at Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards". Zee News. 1 March 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  9. ^ Akundi, Sweta (6 August 2019). "'Dance Like a Man' by Lillette Dubey: Dance, drama and relationships". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  10. ^ All the World is a Stage
  11. ^ "I am over-qualified for this medium". The Indian Express. 1 October 1999. Archived from the original on 20 December 2013.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  12. ^ May 26, TNN |; 2002; Ist, 01:04. "Lillete Dubey: The drama of life | undefined News - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 10 September 2020.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ "Curators | Serendipity Arts Festival". Serendipity. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  14. ^ "Youngest-ever GM of Taj Mansingh dies at 60". The Times of India. 13 May 2015.
  15. ^ "Lillete's life goals". Retrieved 24 September 2020.
  16. ^ a b "Lillete Dubey - Movies, Biography, News, Age & Photos". BookMyShow. Retrieved 24 September 2020.
  17. ^ "Lillete Dubey: 'It's a never-ending trip'". Open The Magazine. 17 February 2016. Retrieved 24 September 2020.
  18. ^ Rituparnasandilya (17 June 2017). "Where are the other fathers in BAGHBAN?". Rituparna Roy. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  19. ^ Sharma, Anshika (28 November 2016). "An Ode to the Women of Kal Ho Naa Ho, and Why Bollywood Needs More Such Characters". Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  20. ^ "Lillete Dubey Joins The Cast Of Qubool Hai 2.0, Also Starring Karan Singh Grover And Surbhi Jyoti". ZEE5 News. 3 December 2020. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  21. ^ "Curators | Serendipity Arts Festival". Serendipity. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  22. ^ Vaidya, Ketan (11 June 2019). "Indian theatre remembers its Renaissance man, Girish Karnad". DNA India. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  23. ^ "The Tribune - Magazine section - Saturday Extra". Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  24. ^ "Lillete Dubey, Joy Sengupta stage play, gear up for production on Devika Rani - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  25. ^ Chowdhury, Shalinee (23 January 2006). "'I'm a greedy actor always on the lookout for an interesting role'". DNA India. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  26. ^ Raman, Sruthi Ganapathy. "ZEE5 comedy 'Akoori' shows what a dysfunctional family is really like, says director Harsh Dedhia". Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  27. ^ "'Season's Greetings' Is An Ode To Freedom Of Love And Choices". Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  28. ^ "Lillete Dubey : Biography, wiki, age, family, husband, net worth, movies". Cine Talkers. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  29. ^ "OSIAN's Cinefan Film Fest opens to a star-studded reception!". Zee News. 29 July 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  30. ^ "Curators | Serendipity Arts Festival". Serendipity. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  31. ^ "Jury - Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards". Jury - Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  32. ^ Rathod, Pranav. "JURY ROUND OF THE REDINK AWARDS ENDS WITH THE SELECTION OF 32 AWARD WINNERS". MumbaiPressclub. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  33. ^ "Sonam Kapoor Ahujas Blind starts filming". Outlook India. 28 December 2020. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  34. ^ "Purana Pyaar |Mohan Agashe|Lillete Dubey|Award Winning Short Film |Love Handles Web Series". Gorilla Shorts on YouTube. 30 May 2018.
  35. ^ "BEST DRAMA SHORT FILMS". Filmfare. Retrieved 17 March 2019.

External links[edit]