Achala Sachdev was born on 3 May 1920 in Peshawar. She started her career as a child actor. Achala later became known for mother and grandmother roles in Hindi films. Her most memorable roles were as Balraj Sahni's wife in 1965 film Waqt, where she was part of the legendary song ‘Ae Meri Zohra Jabeen', playing Kajol's grandmother in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) and Amitabh Bachchan's mother in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001).
Achala Sachdev worked for All India Radio, Lahore prior to Indian partition and then at Delhi All India Radio. Achala made her film debut with Fashionable Wife (1938), and acted in over 130 Hindi films including Prem Pujari, Mera Naam Joker, Hare Rama Hare Krishna and Andaz among others. She has acted in many Yash Raj Films, apart from acting in English language films like the Mark Robson film Nine Hours to Rama (1963) and Merchant Ivory film, The Householder (1963). Her last Hindi film role was in Hrithik Roshan starrer Na Tum Jaano Na Hum (2002).
She became an resident of Pune after marrying to Clifford Douglas Peters who had a company named Morris Electronics which was later sold to Piramal Group. Achala has one child, son Jyotin from her first marriage who live in US, two grandchildren and one great grandson. She also has a daughter from her second marriage. She was also known for philanthropy and gifted her own residence flat in Pune to Janseva Foundation in Pune.
She passed away on April 30, 2012 in Poona Hospital near Lakadi Pul in Pune after suffering for 6 months, since a fall in Sep, 2011.