Pankaj Advani, who directed last year’s much-acclaimed film, Sankat City, passed away early Thursday morning of a heart attack. A passionate film buff, he started his career as a screenplay writer with the Shah Rukh Khan starrer, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1993). He was 45 and is survived by his wife.
Advani made his debut as a director for the children’s film Sunday for the Children’s Film Society of India. He’s reported to have pioneered the digital feature film, Urf Professor featuring Manoj Pahwa. A black comedy and dark thriller, it emerged the runaway winner at the Digital Talkies International Film Festival 2001 in New Delhi.
Anupam Kher, who acted in Advani’s film, was shocked by the director’s untimely demise. “Pankaj was very underplayed as a person. He conducted some master classes at my acting institute and it was wonderful to see the way he held attention. He was a genius,” recalls the actor, adding that Sankat City was a cult film for him “in terms of the genre and the way Pankaj made it. Unfortunately, it didn’t get the recognition it deserved.”
Kher adds, “I spoke to him four days ago and was glad to hear that he had written two-three scripts. It’s sad indeed that he’s no more.”