Sunday, August 26, 2012

A K Hangal

A K Hangal, the perennial old man of Hindi cinema passes away on August 26, 2012. And, with him ends an era of mainstream Hindi films where the audience loved the character actors the same way they loved the stars. In a chaotic world that is Bollywood, Hangal was always the voice of reason, and a source of willing respect.

He will always be remembered as Rahim Chacha uttering the evergreen lines: “Itna sannata kyon hai, bhai”, after the killing of his son Ahmed by the dreaded dacoit Gabbar Singh, in ‘Sholey’.

Remembering A K Hangal///

Avtar Kishan Hangal (15 August 1915 – 26 August, 2012), popularly known as A. K. Hangal, was an Indian freedom fighter from 1929-1947 then became a theater actor from 1936-1965 and later in 1966 became a character actor in Hindi language films. His most notable roles are as Ram Shastri in Aaina (1977), as the Inder Sen in Shaukeen, as Bipinlal Pandey in Namak Haraam, as Imaam Sa'ab in Sholay, as Anokhelal in Manzil and the negative character in Prem Bandhan and the 16 films he did with Rajesh Khanna. He has acted in around 225 Hindi films in a career spanning from 1966 to 2005 and was theater artist from 1936-1965.

Hangal, aged 97, had a fall on August 13. On August 16 he was admitted to the Asha Parekh Hospital in Santa Cruz as he had suffered a back injury when he fell in his house and fractured his right femur. He had to undergo a surgery, but that could not take place as later it was found the actor has trouble breathing and a history of lung disease, kidney problems and tuberculosis. A sudden deterioration in his health was reported on August 25, 2012. Mr Hangal's son, Vijay, said that he is in ICU but the life support system has been withdrawn. He said he had been told that "it was just a matter of time". AK Hangal was taken off life support on his orders. AK Hangal died on 26 August 2012 at the age of 97.

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He faced the cameras first when he was 50. At 96, he took to the fashion runway on a wheelchair. At 97, he gave voice-over for an animated film and did a TV show. Age was clearly never a bar for A. K. Hangal. He lived with an undying passion for his craft almost till his last breath, even when a financial crisis took a heavy toll.

Hangal, who epitomised the phrase once an actor always an actor, passed away here Sunday following a prolonged illness. He was 97.

"I believe there is no age limit to work," Singhal told IANS back in May when he gave a nod for a cameo in a TV show "Madhubala". He was ill by then but he wasn't willing to give up. After featuring in over 200 films in an over four-decade career, Hangal was living a life of penury - a fact which came to light in 2011. He had no income and his only son Vijay, who is 70-plus, had to give up his job due to a severe back ailment. The result was their inability to afford mounting medical bills. But even then Hangal didn't give up or sought financial aid. Such was his spirit -- and pride.

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In 1993 he had applied for a visa to visit his birthplace in Pakistan, and the embassy invited him to Pakistan day celebration and he attended that. Next day Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray took offence "A.K. Hangal Deshdrohi hai"(in his newspaper Samna) and there was a talk of a boycott and having his scenes removed from films. His films were removed from the theaters in and around Maharashtra. His film posters were torn, effigies were burnt and threatening call was given. After a year meeting were called in his support and Bal Thackeray clarified a year later that he had not asked for a boycott and roles started coming back to Hangal.

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Hailed once as the 'uncrowned king of theatre', A K Hangal was not very keen to join films but ended up playing roles of the loving father or grandfather and doting servant of Bollywood with elan.

He played roles in films like "Sholay", "Shaukeen", "Namak Haram", "Aaina", "Avtaar", "Arjun", "Aandhi", "Kora Kagaz", "Bawarchi", "Chitchor", "Guddi", "Abhimaan", "Anamika" and "Parichay". He was also a regular in Rajesh Khanna's starrers like "Aap Ki Kasam", "Amar Deep", "Naukri", "Thodisi Bewafaii" and "Phir Wohi Raat". Playing the role of Rahim Chacha in "Sholay", he uttered those famous words, "Itna sannata kyon hai, bhai."

In his autobiography "The Life and Time of A K Hangal", he recounted how he ended up joining films and how he struggled to shake off his 'gentleman' image in Bollywood though without much success. "I never had ambitions about pursuing a career in films and was quite content with my amateur theatre work... Circumstances pulled me into the film world, though I am not unhappy because of it. Here, I mingled with people from completely different sphere, called 'Show Business', and even after many years in it, sometimes I feel like an outsider," he wrote.

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Veteran actor Avtar Kishen Hangal died in a Mumbai hospital, on Sunday, after prolonged illness, which was aggravated by a recent injury. The 95-year-old actor was admitted to a hospital in suburban Mumbai on August 16, after he slipped in his bathroom, and suffered a back injury. Doctors were unable to operate upon him, as he had chest and respiratory problems and when his condition became critical, he was put on life support system.

Doctors, who were treating Hangal, claim that he died following lung and kidney failure. The veteran, who is survived by his son Vijay, will be cremated this afternoon at Vile Parle crematorium. Hangal acted in more than 200 films, in his career and is best remembered for his role in 'Sholay', 'Aina' and 'Namak Haraam'. He was last seen on-screen in TV series 'Madhubala', in May 2012. Bollywood celebrities mourned the legendary actor's demise, who enriched Indian cinema and theaters, and took to Twitter to offer their condolences.

Mahesh Bhatt: "Adieux Hangal Saab! What an innings !!!"
Shekhar Kapoor: "AK Hangal. Lifetime dedicated 2 d art of acting in theatre. Will always b remembered by his films."
Ranvir Shorey: "A K Hangal, RIP. #respect."
Kunal Kohli: "Itna Sannata Kyon Hai Bhai ...... RIP A K Hangal Sir."
Arshad Warsi: "I had the pleasure of working with A K Hangal in 'Tere Mere Sapne' my first film.... May his soul rest in peace...."
Anupam Kher: "The Marathon Man of Hindi Cinema reaches the final winning post. We will miss you Hangal Saab. RIP."
Shabana Azmi: "Ak Hangal no more. An era comes to an end. Theatre and film were enriched by him."
Anubhav Sinha: "Is this a year of DEATHS??? So MANY people just moving on to the other side. RIP Mr Hangal and Mr Armstrong."
Farhan Akhtar: "A stalwart of Indian theatre and film is no more. RIP AK Hangal."
Shreyas Talpade: " RIP Hangalsaab."

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