Pran, bollywood actor
(February 12, 1920 — July 12, 2013)
Undeniably the most admired Bollywood acting icon, Pran Krishan Sikand, best known as Pran, was hailed as a complete artiste. Credited with portraying diverse characters with perfection in over 350 films (since 1940) Pran had been hailed as the finest ‘villain’ the Indian film industry ever produced.
He enacted the roles of a ‘hero’ from 1940 to 1947, and took up the more challenging roles of a villain from 1942 to 1991, a complete contradiction to his saintly way of life. Alongside, the actor also left his mark playing various character roles.
In his lifetime, Pran was rightfully decorated with honours such as the Padmabhushan, the Dadsaheb Phalke Award, four Filmfare Awards — including the coveted Lifetime Honour — Screen Awards and Zee Cinema Awards. He was also featured in CNN’s list of Top 25 Asian actors of all time.
Pran has immortalised his roles in films such as Madhumati, Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai, Upkar, Shaheed, Ram Aur Shyam, Aansoo Ban Gaye Phool, Johny Mera Naam, Victoria No 203, Be-Imaan, Zanjeer, Don, Amar Akbar Anthony and Duniya, to cite a few.
Born in Delhi to a well-off Punjabi family, Pran’s first stint with acting came with the role of Sita, as actor Madan Puri played Rama. He started his filmy career from Lahore with a Punjabi play called Yamla Jatt in 1940. In Bollywood, his break came with the film Ziddi, with Dev Anand. After Pran survived a heart attack in 1978, he breathed his last on July 12, 2013. He is survived by two sons and a daughter.
(1947 — November 3, 2013)
Born in 1947 in Bikaner district, raised and groomed in Pakistan, Reshma lent her rustic, folksy voice to many an evenings all over the world. Her most popular immortal hits include Dama Dam Mast Qalander and Lambi Judai, besides many others.
Her frequent visits and concerts in the region had made Punjab her second home. Though bound by illiteracy, the highly gifted Reshma was decorated with Sitara-e-Imtiaz, the highest honour of Pakistan.
Religiously devout Reshma used to sing at religious mazaars, which is where she was spotted by a radio broadcaster who organised her recording of the song Laal Meri on Pakistani radio. The song became an instant hit and a teenaged star was born.
Besides concerts, Reshma started recording for the film industry in Pakistan and later in India. She was
eulogized for hits such as Hai O Rabba Nahion Lagda, Sun Charkhe Di Mithi Mithi Ghook, Ve Mein Chori Chori, Ankhiyan Nu Rehan De, which continue to keep her memory alive and fresh in the minds of her ardent fans.
The singer had been battling cancer for a year before finally giving in, in November this year. A strong votary of mutual harmony and brotherhood amongst India and Pakistan, Reshma used to argue that since Lahore is just one hour journey to Amritsar, she is closer to Punjab than people living in Chennai.
She always admired her fans and expressed gratitude towards Bollywood stalwarts Raj Kapoor, Subhash Ghai and others for giving her the opportunity to showcase her talent in their films. She performed worldwide at top music venues.
Dr Charan Das Sidhu, author, playwright, actor and director
(March 22, 1938 — May 28, 2013)
Born in a sleepy village in Punjab, Charan Das Sidhu, the only son of a farmer, got his Master’s degree in English literature from Ramjas College, Delhi, and went on to study at the Wisconsin University in the US.
Later, while teaching at Ramjas College, he won the prestigious Full Bright Scholarship and went to USA for his PhD in English theatre. Sidhu cleared the IAS, scoring the 10th position, but preferred to pursue his dreams of giving people theatre of quality.
He was credited with the national honour of Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, for the 38 meaningful plays in Punjabi, 11 books, including some on theatre criticism, and academics with mastery in four languages. Promoting Punjabi drama was his only resolve.
Delhi audience was inclined to dramas with double-meaning dialogues. Fighting alone, Sidhu brought Punjabi drama out of vulgarity and grossness, which he replaced with plays of social, cultural and historical relevance. His disciple and nephew Ravi Taneja is now carrying his legacy forward.
Balraj Komal, Urdu poet
(1928 — November 27, 2013)
Hailed as a leading progressive poet, Balraj Komal, was educated in Pakistan and migrated to Delhi after Partition. A contemporary of Sahir Ludhianvi and Faiz Ahmed Faiz, he specialised in nazm genre of Urdu poetry.
Endowed with a creative impulse for writing poetry in his peculiar, innovative andaaz, Komal was known for establishing an instant rapport with the audience because of the modernity of his themes and immaculate style of expression. In 1985, Komal was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi Award for his anthology of poems, Parindon Bhara Aasman.
Admired by readers, poets and literary critics as ‘lafzon ka jadugar’ he had been credited with over a dozen books, including poetic collections and critical appreciations. Komal was decorated with the Gangdhar National Award 2012 for Urdu poetry by the Samablpur University.
Desh Prem Azad
(February 2, 1938 — August 16, 2013)
A dedicated cricket player and committed guru Desh Prem Azad is fondly remembered when his illustrious disciples — cricketers Kapil Dev, Chetan Sharma, Yograj Singh, Ashok Malhotra and many more — bring laurels to the country.
He deserved all the credit for sharpening the skills and cricketing potential of these national heroes in the late ’70s. With their cricketing talent blossoming to international recognition, Chandigarh eminently vied for a place on the world map, courtesy the fruitful contribution of Desh Prem Azad.
While associated with the PACE academy in Sector 17, back in 1990, Azad also played a vital role in the grooming of cricketers such as Harbhajan Singh and Venugopal Rao.
Azad also ran a cricket academy at St Stephen’s School, Sector 45, from 2006 to 2012. Before his demise, due to a cardiac arrest on August 16, he was holding the post of director at Punjab Cricket Association’s non-residential academies.
He is survived by his wife and two sons, Sanjeev Aggarwal and Monish Aggarwal, both Ranji Trophy players.
Pushpinder Singh, member, National Monitoring Committee, Education
(February 18, 1953 — September 9, 2013)
A man of myriad traits, Pushpinder Singh was serving his terms of member, National Monitoring Committee on education (2011-14) and Member Minorities Commission (Government of Delhi) before his tragic demise.
Former journalist, Singh had carved a niche for himself as an associate editor of many publications, besides being an executive member of Punjabi academy, Delhi, a board member of Haryana Tourism Corporation.
This helped him make diverse contributions for national development. Recipient of Communal Harmony Award, Singh had been honoured by former governor of Punjab, S Surender Nath, for national integration.
As a prolific writer, Pushpinder Singh presented papers on Rabindranath Tagore’s 125th birth anniversary in Calcutta at a national seminar organised by the All India Writers Union.
His articles on problems of trade banking and industry and the measures adopted by the government to benefit the trading community, export business and balance of trade appeared in national dailies and magazines. His Excellency Prince Phillips (UK) honored him at an international meet organised in Nepal regarding environmental awareness in Sikhs.
‘We will miss him dearly’
The nation lost another icon of inspiration on December 28. Very few actors have elicited such love of fans, theatre buffs and literary fraternity all at once.
Philanthropist and culturally refined actor, Farooq Sheikh, passed away on Saturday, at the age of 65.
The actor, known for his roles in films Chashme Buddoor, Umrao Jaan, Saath Saath, and the TV show Jeena Isi Ka Naam hai, to name a few, had also managed to establish a literary bond with City Beautiful in the past two decades.
Poet and additional chief secretary, Haryana, IAS Ramendra Jakhu, recalls those days when on his invitation Farooq Sheikh and Shabana Azmi came to stage Tumhari Amrita at PGI. “Since he had an impulse for literary arts, our friendship blossomed in family relationships and we kept meeting since then. Two years ago, he came to release my book, Ek Zajeera Dhoop Ka.
We will miss him dearly,” says Jakhu. Similar sentiments were expressed by professor Manju Jaidka and poet Madhav Kaushik from Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi. “Farooq Sheikh came all the way from Mumbai to attend our two-day national seminar on literature in July 2009.
He was the most attentive and receptive listener; he kept making notes and exchanged his views on all literary genres with me till late evening,” recalls ghazal writer Kaushik, who last spoke to him on December 25, to thank him for the greetings Farooq had sent.
Complimenting his love for literature, Manju discloses, “Despite our request to pay his bills, he bore the total expense of his air travel and stay at the hotel, unlike other delegates. When we insisted, he remarked with a broad smile, ‘whatever I have leant from your seminar is more precious for me’.”