Mumbai, Jun 19 (PTI) Megastar Amitabh Bachchan, superstar Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, actor-filmmaker Farhan Akhtar and others from the Hindi film industry mourned the end of an era as they paid tributes to sprint icon Milkha Singh, describing him as an epitome of 'hard work' and 'determination'.
Singh, 91, died on late Friday night at Chandigarh's PGIMER hospital after battling COVID-19 for a month.
He passed away less than a week after he lost his wife Nirmal Kaur, a former national volleyball captain, to the same ailment. He is survived by his golfer son Jeev Milkha Singh and three daughters.
'In grief... Milkha Singh passes away... the pride of India... a great athlete... a greater human...,' Bachchan wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning.
Khan said Singh he was an inspiration to millions of people including him.
'The Flying Sikh' may no longer be with us in person but his presence will always be felt and his legacy will remain unmatched... An inspiration to me... an inspiration to millions. Rest in Peace Milkha Singh sir,' he wrote.
In a statement posted on his various social media accounts, Akhtar, who spent a lot of time and got to know Singh personally while playing the lead role in the 2013 biopic 'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag', said he is unable to come to terms with the sports icon's demise.
'A part of me is still refusing to accept that you are no more. Maybe it's the stubborn side I inherited from you...the side that when it sets it's mind on something, just never gives up. And the truth is that you will always be alive,' he said.
The 47-year-old actor described Singh as a large-hearted, down to earth man, who showed how with hard work, honesty and determination one can touch the sky.
'You represented an idea. You represented a dream. You represented (to use your own words) how hard work, honesty and determination can lift a person off his knees and get him to touch the sky. For those who knew you as a father and a friend, it was a blessing. For those who didn’t as a constant source of inspiration and a reminder of humility in success,' he added.
Kumar, who was offered to star in the biopic prior to Akhtar, said he will regret not saying yes to the film.
'Incredibly sad to hear about the demise of #MilkhaSingh ji. The one character I forever regret not playing on-screen! May you have a golden run in heaven, Flying Sikh. Om shanti, Sir,' Kumar wrote.
Recalling her first meeting with Singh, actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas said she was touched by his humility.
'Warm and welcoming, you made our first meeting so so special. I have been inspired by your excellence, touched by your humility, influenced by your contribution to our country. Om Shanti #Milkha ji. Sending love and prayers to the family. #MilkhaSingh,' Chopra Jonas posted on the microblogging site.
Taapsee Pannu simply wrote 'And he flew away,' with a broken heart emoji.
Veteran actor Shabana Azmi posted, 'RIP legendary sprinter #Milkha Singh ji'.
Actor-politican Sunny Deol Singh said people will continue to seek inspiration from Singh's life.
'The nation will remember you & seek inspiration from your life forever. #MilkhaSingh #RIPMilkhaSingh,' Deol said.
Riteish Deshmukh said Singh's name will forever be synonymous with speed.
'Shri #MilkhaSingh Ji‘s name was and will forever be synonymous with speed. He inspired generations to run & never give up. Extremely saddened to know about his demise. My deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. #LongLiveFlyingSikh.' Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar said he was saddened to hear about the demise of Singh.
'Broken heart. Been a great inspiration will remain in our hearts forever,” he tweeted. PTI KKP SHD SHD SHD