Kushal Punjabi to Vidya Sinha: Film and television stars who left us in 2019 but will be remembered forever
Hindi cinema lost some of its most celebrated faces in the year 2019 leaving a void in the fraternity as well as in the hearts of the audiences.
The year began on a sad note with the demise of veteran actor-writer Kader Khan. Best known for penning some of the most powerful dialogues and unparalleled comic timing as an actor, Khan died at the age of 81 on December 31, 2018, due to prolonged illness.
Khan made his acting debut in 1973 with Rajesh Khanna’s Daag and featured in over 300 films. He wrote dialogues for over 250 movies. As a screenwriter, his credits include Dharam Veer, Ganga Jamuna Saraswati, Coolie, Parvarish, Amar Akbar Anthony, Sharaabi, Lawaaris and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar.
In the ‘90s and early 2000’s, the trio of Khan, actor Govinda and filmmaker David Dhawan, became one the most bankable combinations delivering cult comedies like Raja Babu, Coolie. No 1, Hero No. 1, Saajan Chale Sasural and Haseena Maan Jayegi. In his final years, the actor shifted to Canada to stay with his son and was vocal about the industry’s ignorance towards him.
Another multi-hyphenate personality and a progressive voice that championed the freedom of expression, Girish Karnad, died on June 10. The noted playwright, actor and director took his last breath at his Bengaluru residence at the age of 81.
A recipient of Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Jnanpith Award, Karnad was one of the most important literary minds of the present era. His best works include plays Yayati, Tughlaq and Naga-Mandala, which have been translated from his native language Kannada to English and other Indian languages.
Karnad contributed to Hindi cinema’s parallel film movement through movies like Swami, and Nishant and he is also remembered for playing Swami’s stern father in Malgudi Days. In later years, Karnad was seen in commercial films such as Salman Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger, Tiger Zinda Hai and Ajay Devgn-starrer Shivaay.
Veteran actor and Shabana Azmi’s mother Shaukat Kaifi’s demise was a great loss for Indian theatre and cinema alike. The stage thespian died on November 22 in her early 90s due to age-related ailments in Mumbai.
She along with her husband, celebrated Urdu poet and film lyricist, Kaifi Azmi, was a leading light of the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) and the Progressive Writers Association (IWA), which were the cultural platforms of the Communist Party of India. Kaifi’s film acting credits include Bazaar, Umrao Jaan and Mira Nair’s Oscar nominated film Salaam Bombay! Her last movie was Shaadi Ali’s Saathiya.
A stalwart in Marathi theatre and cinema and a prolific character artiste in numerous Bollywood movies, Shreeram Lagoo died of cardiac arrest at his Pune residence on December 17. He was 92. He trained as an ENT surgeon by profession, but played an important role in the growth of theatre movement in Maharashtra in post-Independence era alongside Vijay Tendulkar, Vijaya Mehta and Arvind Deshpande.
As an actor, his roles in Marathi plays such as Natsamrat and Himalayachi Saoli, and V Shantaram’s Pinjra made him popular. In Bollywood, Lagoo essayed memorable roles in films like Ek Din Achanak, Gharonda, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar and Laawaris. He played Gopal Krishna Gokhale in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi.
Hindi cinema’s woman-next-door, Vidya Sinha, died in Mumbai on August 15 at the age of 71 after prolonged illness. She made a name for herself with her simple and working woman characters opposite Amol Palekar in Rajnigandha and Chhoti Si Baat and in mainstream space for Pati Patni Aur Woh among others.
In a career spanning over four decades, Sinha also featured in Josh, Love Story, Bodyguard and TV shows such as Kkavyanjali, Qubool Hai and Kullfi Kumarr Bajewala.
Veteran action director and father of superstar Ajay Devgn, Veeru Devgan passed away in Mumbai on May 27 at the age of 77. The popular action director behind films such as Roti Kapda Aur Makaan and Mr Natwarlal, he initially wanted to become an actor but became a stuntman and later an action choreographer.
Devgan worked in more than 80 Bollywood films and did stunt work for big heroes such as Dilip Kumar, Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna, Rajesh Khanna and Jeetendra among others.
One of his most famous action sequences was son Ajay’s introduction scene in his 1991 debut Phool Aur Kaante in which the actor was seen balancing on two bikes.
Veteran character actor Viju Khote, best known for playing Kalia in Sholay and Robert in Andaz Apna Apna, died on September 30 at the age of 77 in Mumbai. Brother of veteran actor Shubha Khote, he also featured in popular films like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Ventilator and the TV show Zabaan Sambhalke.
One of the seven Ramsay Brothers known for cult horror films such as Puraani Haveli and Tahkhaana, Shyam Ramsay breathed his last on September 18 in Mumbai. He was 67. The filmmaker was considered the brain behind the banner. He directed over 30 films including Bandh Darwaza and Veerana and was also the creator of TV series Zee Horror Show.
Best known for his appearance in films like Lakshya, Andaz and Kaal, Kushal Punjabi was found dead on December 27 at his Mumbai house. The actor, 42, died of an apparent suicide and also left behind a note in which he said nobody should be held responsible for his death. Punjabi started his career as a dancer and model. He appeared in several music videos such as Pehla Nasha (remix) and DJ Aqeel’s Kehdoon Tumhen recreation.
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