Who was Dr Shriram Lagoo? All you need to know about the 'Natsamrat'

Veteran actor Shriram Lagoo, a stalwart in Marathi theatre and cinema and a prolific character artiste in numerous Bollywood movies, passed away on Tuesday evening. He was 92.

Lagoo died of cardiac arrest at his Pune residence around 8 pm. The last rites will be performed after his son comes from the US, his wife Deepa Lagoo said in a statement.

Lagoo is survived by his wife, actor Deepa Lagoo, a son and a daughter. His son, Tanveer, died at a young age when a stone hurled by someone hit him while he was travelling by train.

Who was Shriram Lagoo?

Shriram Lagoo, affectionately known in theatre circles as ‘Doctor’. Lagoo, born in Satara in 1927 and a trained as an ENT surgeon by profession, played an important role in the growth of theatre movement in Maharashtra in post-Independence era alongside Vijay Tendulkar, Vijaya Mehta and Arvind Deshpande.

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Lagoo started acting in plays while attending Medical College. Meanwhile, he received degree in ENT Surgery from University of Mumbai in the early fifties and practised in Pune for six years before going to Canada and England for additional training.

Lagoo, however, did not become a commercial actor until he reached his 40s. He became a surgeon and worked in a hospital in Kenya for some years. After quitting practise and becoming a full-time actor, he tasted commercial success with V Shantaram's "Pinjra" (1972). As an actor, his roles in Marathi plays such as "Natsamrat" and "Himalayachi Saoli", and films like "Pinjra" made him popular.

Natsamrat was the name of an iconic Marathi play in which Lagoo starred. He played a leading role in the play 'Natsamrat' written by Kusumagraj (Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar) and was best remembered for that role.

In the play, Ganpat Belwalkar, a Shakespearean actor, retires from the stage but is unable to escape the drama of familial clashes. However, their ungratefulness leaves Ganpat and his wife homeless during their old age. Felicitated with the Sahitya Akademi Award, Natsamrat ran successfully for more than four decades.

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". Lagoo, affectionately known in theatre circles as 'Doctor', was also known for his progressive and rationalist views.

He was also instrumental in setting up "Saamajik Krutadnyta Nidhi" (social gratitude fund) for social workers. He was also very vocal and active in furthering progressive and rational social causes, for example in 1999, he and social activist G. P. Pradhan undertook a fast in support of anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare.

(Inputs from Agencies)