Gulshan Rai was born on 2 March 1924, in Lahore. He moved to Bombay in 1947 and, within a short span of two years, became a film distributor. He released more than 180 films in Bombay territory, 40 of which have celebrated silver jubilees. Besides Mumbai, he also opened distribution offices in West Bengal, Punjab and Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. He has taken more than 15 films on world right basis and almost 50 films for overseas distribution.
In 1970, Gulshan Rai started his production company “Trimurti Films” and the first film he produced was Johny Mera Naam, starring Dev Anand and Hema Malini. The movie became a big blockbuster.
Gulshan Rai then produced Joshila (1973), again starring Dev Anand and Hema Malini. The film, directed by Yash Chopra, flopped unfortunately. In 1975, he produced Deewaar, again directed by Yash Chopra, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor in lead roles. The movie was a huge hit and won several awards, including the best film of the year. This was a landmark film in Rai’s career.
Dream Girl (1977), starring Dharmendra and Hema Malini, was Rai’s next production. The movie gained mediocre success. Trishul (1978), starring Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar and Shashi Kapoor, was a huge hit. The multi-starrer Vidhaata (1982), directed by Subhash Ghai, became a huge blockbuster. Gulshan Rai then produced Yudh (1985) which was directed by his son Rajiv Rai. The movie, starring Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff in lead roles, was a good entertainer as well. In 1989, Rai made Tridev, again directed by his son. This film, a multi-starrer, was a very big hit too. Vishwatma (1992), starring Sunny Deol and Naseeruddin Shah besides others, did average business inspite of being a critically acclaimed film. Mohra (1994), starring Akshay Kumar and Suniel Shetty among others, was a huge hit. It was one of the best films of that year, being a complete entertainer. Rai then made Gupt (1997), starring Bobby Deol as the main lead. The movie was a great thriller and a big hit. Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat (2001), a love triangle marking the debut of Arjun Rampal, was Rai’s last film. It didn’t do as well as Rai’s previous flicks.
In 1976, Gulshan Rai won the Filmfare Best Film Award for Deewaar (1975).
Gulshan Rai is the father of U.K. based Bollywood Film Director, Rajiv Rai and father-in-law of famous Bollywood actress, Sonam. He also has a daughter. Rai expired on 11 October 2004, in Mumbai, when he was 80. Family sources said that he was bed-ridden for a couple of years and was suffering from age related ailments. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh paid tribute to Gulshan Rai, saying he had displayed a rare sensitivity towards the social issues of the day.