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    Feb 2010


    Default Sachin Pilgaonkar, Basu Chatterjee grieve A K Hangal's death

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    Though there were hardly a few people who attended the funeral of the film industry’s so-called senior citizen AK Hangal, there are many who reminisce having worked with him both on stage and in films.

    Having started in films with the Hindi adaptation of Nobel laurette Rabindranath Tagore’s story ‘Post Office’ titled Dakghar was back in the 60s, he went on to do more than 100 films, notable among them being his role as Ram Shastri in Aaina (1977), Inder Sen in Shaukeen, as Bipinlal Pandey in Namak Haraam, as Imaam Saab in Sholay and as Anokhelal in Manzil among others. Incidentally, he was the only character actor did 17 films with the late Rajesh Khanna.

    Reminices Sachin Pilgaonkar, who played Ahmed to Hangal’s Imaam Saheb, “The industry is indeed grieved at the passing away of Hangal saab as we dearly called him. His memory becomes all the more important to me because it was with me that he started his career with me and Balraj Sahni in the Zul Vellani-directed children film Dakghar in 1965.

    "Besides his association with IPTA then, he was actively involved in patriotism-related activities. It was for this, that the government of India conferred the Padma Bhushan to him in 2006. Known for his subtle performances, Hangal saab was loved by one and all.

    "After a long time, we both had the occasion of working together again in the Rajesh Khanna-Shabana Azmi film Avatar in which we both had important roles. Then we did Sholay together but after that I had no chance to work with him.

    "Once, I remember when he was reminiscing about his past, I asked him, 'Hanagl saab, people know you as A K Hangal, but please tell what does A and K mean. That is when he said, ' My name is Avtar Kishan Hangal.” With his demise, we have not only lost a great actor but also a good human being. May his soul rest in peace.”

    If one may remember, Hangal played one of the three elderly gentlemen who decide to go away to Goa for a while to have some enjoyment in their late lifetime in Basu Chatterjee’s 1982 made film Shaukeen. While in Goa, the three men get in hilarious situations with Rati (Agnihotri) as they try to impress her and try to get lucky with her.

    It was a kind of an offbeat role for Hangal saab and that too with seasoned artistes like Ashok Kumar and Utpal Dutt. Remembers Basu Chatterjee, “ Never did he feel out of place acting with the two veterans and never did they allow him to feel out of place. All the three gelled as a unit and acting wise, all of them performed equally well.

    "Hangal saab was a versatile actor who did a variety of roles. He did many films with me. Hangal saab was very dear to me because it was me along with Basu Bhattacharya who picked him up from his tailoring shop in Crawford Market somewhere in 1862-63.”

    But, it was a pity that the funeral of Hangal saab was barely attended by industry bigwigs. Hangal saab must have moaned from his pyre, “Itna sannata kyon hain bhai?”



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