Rhea Pillai is a well-known Indian model recognized for her contributions in the television and advertising industry.
Last Updated: October 23, 2023
Rhea Pillai is a well-known Indian model recognized for her contributions in the television and advertising industry. She has garnered several accolades throughout her career. In 2003, she was honored as the “Woman of the Year” on International Women’s Day for her commendable social service, sharing the title with luminaries like Raveena Tandon, Anoushka Shankar, and Ritu Beri. Rhea Pillai also ventured into the world of cinema with a minor role in the Hindi movie “Corporate” in 2006. Beyond her professional life, she actively engages with the Art of Living Foundation.
Rhea Pillai was born to parents of diverse backgrounds. Her father, Raymond Pillai, was of mixed heritage, with a Malayali Hindu father and an Anglo-Indian mother. He was raised as a Christian. Rhea’s mother, Durr-e-shahwar Dhanrajgir, was the daughter of Maharaja Narsinghraj Dhanrajgir Gyan Bahadur, a prominent nobleman from Hyderabad state, and Zubeida, who came from a family of Muslim royals and was one of the earliest actresses in Indian cinema, having starred in the first Indian sound film, “Alam Ara” (1931). Rhea Pillai is also the great-granddaughter of India’s first female film director, Fatima Begum, and is the great-niece of Sultana, one of India’s early film actresses and the elder sister of her grandmother, Zubeida.
Rhea’s personal life has seen its share of twists and turns. In 1984, she married a U.S. national named Micheal Vaz. Their marriage ended in separation in 1988, culminating in a divorce in 1994.
In 1998, Rhea Pillai tied the knot with actor Sanjay Dutt, but the marriage faced challenges and ultimately ended in separation after a few years. However, the two maintained a close friendship, even after their divorce was finalized in 2008. The details of their settlement, when made public, drew scrutiny for Rhea Pillai’s conduct and perceived materialism, as reported by the tabloid MiD DAY. The Telegraph, a broadsheet newspaper, criticized her in this regard.
During the 2000s, Rhea Pillai entered into a live-in relationship with Indian tennis player Leander Paes. The couple welcomed a daughter named Aiyana in 2005. However, their relationship took a legal turn when Rhea filed a case against Leander Paes and his father, alleging domestic violence in June 2014. In February 2022, the court ruled in her favor, finding Leander Paes guilty of multiple acts of domestic violence.