Padma Bhushan AK Hangal who began his Hindi film career in his late 40s with Basu Bhattacharya's Teesri Kasam and Shagird (both 1966), soon became a popular character actor, playing onscreen fathers or uncles to the leading actors of the 70s, 80s, and 90s.
Hangal passed away on Sunday morning at Asha Parekh hospital, Santacruz (West) following a brief illness. The 97-year-old actor is remembered for his role as Rahim Chacha in Sholay.
He fractured his right femur bone after a fall on August 13 and three days later he was admitted to hospital. Hangal's son Vijay said, "He was on life-support initially but doctors decided to take him off the ventilator since his condition wasn't improving. My father was a spirited man... He kept fighting till his last breath."
The funeral was held at 1pm at Pawan Hans crematorium, Vile Parle.
Born Avtaar Veenit Kishan Hangal in Sialkot, now in Pakistan, Hangal spent most of his childhood in Peshawar. He grew up to be a tailor but acted in theatre as well. Hangal made his entry in Bollywood when he was in his 40s and went on to act in over 200 films.
After a four-decade career, Hangal was living a life of penury, a fact which came to light in 2011. With monetary issues plaguing him and his son, many filmstars and directors pledged funds for his treatment.
Hangal's last outing was for the small screen where he did a cameo on the Colors' show Madhubala — Ek Ishq Ek Junoon. In his last few years, he took to the fashion runway on a wheelchair. He even gave a voice-over for an animated film and did a cameo in a TV show. Age was clearly never a bar for AK Hangal who lived with an undying passion for his craft till his last breath.