From COVID-induced pandemic to natural calamities to the severe economic crunch, 2020 has been the worst year of this century so far. The year seems to be jinxed for the entertainment industry, too. Closure of cinemas has affected business. More importantly, the year has already seen the demise of many luminaries in quick succession, much to the shock and sorrow of fans.
From Sushant Singh Rajput to Rishi Kapoor and Irrfan Khan to Saroj Khan, here are a few Indian celebrities we have lost amid the COVID-19 lockdown:
NISHIKANT KAMAT (August 17)
The filmmaker passed away in a Hyderabad hospital. He was 50 and battling liver cirrhosis for the past two years. Kamat was known for directing Bollywood films like the Ajay Devgn-Tabu starrer ‘Drishyam’, Irrfan Khan starrer ‘Madaari’ and the John Abraham films ‘Force’ and ‘Rocky Handsome’ among others. His Marathi films, ‘Dombivali Fast’ and ‘Lai Bhaari’ won critical and commercial success cutting language barriers. Beyond direction, Kamat also acted in several films including ‘Rocky Handsome’, ‘Bhavesh Joshi’ and ‘Julie 2’ as well as the Marathi film ‘Fugay’.
PANDIT JASRAJ (August 17)
Legendary classical vocalist and Padma Vibhushan recipient Pandit Jasraj passed away in the US at the age of 90. The news about his death was confirmed by his daughter Durga Jasraj. Born in 1930 in Haryana, the celebrated classical singer presented the Mewati Gharana to the global music connoisseur. With a career spanning 80 years, Pandit Jasraj’s oeuvre ranged from the world stage to Indian film music.
JAGDEEP (July 8)
Best known for his role as Soorma Bhopali in Ramesh Sippy’s blockbuster ‘Sholay’, the veteran Bollywood comedian Jagdeep passed away owing to age-related health problems at 81.
Jagdeep started his career as a child artiste in BR Chopra’s 1951 release, ‘Afsana’, starring Ashok Kumar, Veena and Pran. Later, he made a mark with roles in films such as ‘Bhabhi’ and ‘Barkha’. His golden run began with GP Sippy’s 1968 film ‘Brahmachari’ starring Shammi Kapoor. His comic role in the film was widely appreciated. His last-released film is ‘Masti Nahi Sasti’ in 2017.
SAROJ KHAN (July 3)
The veteran Bollywood choreographer passed away following a massive heart attack at the age of 71. Khan was fondly called Masterji in Bollywood, and she had choreographed over 2000 songs spanning over three and a half decades. Her most famous collaborations were with Madhuri Dixit (“Dhak karne laga”) and Sridevi (“Hawa hawai”) among many other hits. Her recent work includes “Tabaah ho gaye” from the 2019 film “Kalank”, picturised on Madhuri.
SUSHANT SINGH RAJPUT (June 14)
The most controversial Indian celebrity death in years, the reason of Sushant’s demise is yet to be ascertained. What is known so far is that the 34-year-old actor was found dead at his residence in Mumbai. Initial reports stated it was a suicide, and that his body was found hanging, but these theories have now been questioned. While Mumbai Police had concluded the case to be a suicide, a CBI probe has been ordered into the death on Wednesday by the Supreme Court.
The case has taken several turns already. While initially it was thought Sushant took his life owing to depression because he was a victim of Bollywood nepotism, fingers have subsequently been pointed at his girlfriend, actress Rhea Chakraborty, her family and her associates. A political angle in the death is also not being ruled out.
Sushant rose to fame as Manav Deshmukh in the TV series, ‘Pavitra Rishta’. In 2013, he made a transition to the big screen with ‘Kai Po Che!’ and was then seen in a string of films such as ‘Shuddh Desi Romance’, ‘M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story’, ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!’, ‘Drive’, ‘Kedarnath’, ‘Chhichhore’ and ‘Dil Bechara’.
BASU CHATTERJEE (June 4)
The legendary filmmaker passed away at 93 owing to age-related ailments. Chatterjee is considered among the pioneers of middle-of-the-road cinema from the seventies to the nineties. He is among the filmmakers who made the common man a hero of Hindi commercial cinema, shedding his larger-than-life aura.
The nonagenarian is best known for films like ‘Rajnigandha’, ‘Chitchor’, ‘Khatta Meetha’, ‘Priyatama’, ‘Shaukeen’ and ‘Chameli Ki Shaadi’. His last directorial was the 1997 film, ‘Gudgudee’.
WAJID KHAN (June 1)
Bollywood composer-singer Wajid Khan of the popular sibling composer duo Sajid-Wajid passed away on June 1. On June 5, his family informed that Wajid had died due to cardiac arrest.
Sajid-Wajid, best known for their songs in the ‘Dabangg’ films, recently composed a couple of songs for Bollywood superstar Salman Khan during the ongoing lockdown. The first, ‘Pyaar karona’ was a pop anthem encouraging all to fight the coronavirus. The song released in April was sung by Salman and also featured the actor in the video. The other song, ‘Bhai bhai’ released on Eid.
RISHI KAPOOR (April 30)
In 2018, the veteran actor was diagnosed with cancer for the first time, following which he was in New York for nearly a year to undergo treatment. He returned to India in September 2019 and passed away on April 30.
Post return to India, his health has frequently been in focus. The actor was admitted to hospital in quick succession in February. Amid speculations about his health, he had been hospitalised in New Delhi in early February, while on a visit to the city.
Rishi Kapoor shot to fame playing a teen icon in his debut film ‘Bobby’ and went on to carve his niche as a romantic icon in numerous hits of the seventies, eighties and the nineties. Over the past decade, he also impressed with negative roles in ‘Agneepath’ and ‘D-Day’.
IRRFAN KHAN (April 29)
Acclaimed actor Irrfan Khan passed away a day before Rishi Kapoor. Irrfan was admitted to Mumbai’s Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital with a colon infection. He was only 54. The actor had been battling neuroendocrine tumour for several years and had been under medical attention.
Irrfan carved an alternative route to success, defying traditional mainstream diktats in Bollywood. He was equally at ease in commercial entertainers as ‘Hindi Medium’, ‘Angrezi Medium’ and ‘Life In A Metro’, as he did with more profound fare as ‘Maqbool’, ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ and ‘Qissa’.
NIMMI (March 25)
Yesteryears actress Nimmi passed away at her residence in the city in March. She was 88. Lately, Nimmi was suffering from breathing problems and had been in and out of the hospital.
Nimmi, whose name was Nawab Banoo, made her Bollywood debut in Raj Kapoor’s 1949 release, ‘Barsaat’, which was the Showman’s first major hit. The film co-starred Nargis. Through the fifties and the sixties, the actress worked in films with most top actors, notably the Bollywood Triumvirate of the era — Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand. One of her earliest releases was Fali Mistry’s “Sazaa” starring Dev Anand in 1951. The same year, she worked with Dilip Kumar and Ashok Kumar in Nitin Bose’s “Deedar”.
Bollywood fans also lost yesteryears’ actress Kum um, TV actor Sachin Kumar, actor Mohit Baghel, filmmakers Rajat Mukerjee and Harish Shah, and lyricists Rahat Indori, Yogesh and Anwar Sagar this year.
May Sushant Singh Rajput, Irrfan Khan and the other late actor’s soul rest in peace.