In Memoriam: Stars who faded away in 2020

·4-min read

New Delhi, Dec 27 (PTI) Some bowed out of old age, others because illness felled them and there were also those unable to bear the challenges of everyday life, particularly in a pandemic that hit so many lives and livelihoods. The Indian entertainment industry said sayonara to many stars big and small. Here are some of them: Nimmi: On March 25, the day India went into lockdown to ward off COVID-19, yesteryear star Nimmi died following prolonged illness. The 88-year-old, whose real name was Nawab Banoo, worked in the 1950s and 1960s with films such as 'Aan', 'Barsaat' and 'Deedar'.

Irrfan Khan: The fount of talent who breathed life into a bewildering variety of roles and was recognised abroad just as much as he was at home lost his battle with a rare form of cancer on April 29. Irrfan, India’’s international actor-star of “The Lunchbox”, “Life of Pi” and “The Namesake” was just 54.

Rishi Kapoor: On April 30, just as the entertainment world was coming to terms with the death of Irrfan Khan, Rishi Kapoor slipped away, also of cancer. He was 67. The star who shone bright for five decades, carrying forward the legacy of the famed Kapoors, began with “Bobby” in 1973, danced his way through innumerable romances and then moved into character roles in films such as “Mulk” and “Do Dooni Chaar”.

Yogesh: The lyricist broke into the Hindi film industry with the introspective ''Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaaye'' and ''Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli' in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's 'Anand'. He died on May 29 at the age of 77. The Lucknow-born reached the city of dreams Mumbai when he was just 16 and went on to pen songs such as 'Badi Sooni Sooni Hai' from 'Mili' and 'Rajinigandha Phool Tumhare' from 'Rajinigandha'.

Basu Chatterjee: The veteran director, who chronicled the everyday lives of middle class India with humour and empathy in films such as “Rajinigandha”, “Baaton Baaton Mein” and “Chitchor”, died on June 4. He was 93. He died just five days after the death of his frequent collaborator Yogesh.

Sushant Singh Rajput: On June 14, the 34-year-old star of 'MS Dhoni: The Untold Story' was found hanging in his Mumbai home, a tragic, untimely death that shocked all and led to a debate on mental health issues. However, it soon took on quite another dimension with allegations on nepotism, structures of power in Bollywood and the alleged use of drugs shaking the industry like possibly nothing before.

Seve ral central agencies, including the CBI, came into the picture. Many stars, including Deepika Padukone, were questioned. Rajput’s girlfriend, actor Rhea Chakraborty, was subjected to an intense media trial and arrested over allegations of abetting his suicide and misappropriating his wealth.

Saroj Khan: Bollywood’s feisty ‘Masterji’ who choreographed more than 2,000 songs, including 'Dhak Dhak' and 'Ek Do Teen' and helped remould the coy heroine to the unapologetically sensual one, died of a cardiac arrest on July 3 at the age of 71 following a brief illness.

Jagdeep: The comic actor, who will always be remembered as Soorma Bhopali from “Sholay” died on July 9 at the age of 81. Jagdeep, whose real name was Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed Jafri, started his journey in cinema as a child actor in 1951 with 'Afsana' and went on to work with directors such as Guru Dutt in 'Aar Paar' and Bimal Roy in 'Do Bigha Zamin'. But it was Shammi Kapoor-starrer 'Brahmachari' in 1968 that gave him a kickstart as a comedian.

S P Balasubrahmanyam: The celebrated playback singer died on September 25 at a Chennai hospital due to COVID-19 complications. The 74-year-old singer, popularly known as SPB, built a five decade career in film and stage music world with hits in 16 languages, many in Tamil and his mother tongue Telugu.

Bhanu Athaiya: On October 15, veteran costume designer and India's first Oscar winner passed away at her Mumbai home at the age of 91. Athaiya won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design in Richard Attenborough's 1983 epic “Gandhi”, along with John Mollo. In a career of more than five decades and over 100 films, Athaiya won two National Awards -- for Gulzar's mystery drama 'Lekin' (1990) and the period film 'Lagaan' directed by Ashutosh Gowariker (2001).

Soumitra Chatterjee: On November 15, the actor who transcended the boundaries of language, state and country to take Indian cinema to the world, died from post COVID-19 complications in a Kolkata hospital. The 85-year-old, also known as Satyajit Ray’s alter ego, was one of India’s most well known actors, feted for his performance in classics such as “Charulata” and “Ghaire Baire”. But he was more than just a Bengali star and more than just about Ray, continuing to write, critique and act till the end.

His death led to an outpouring of grief in his hometown Kolkata with thousands lining the streets for a last glimpse as the cortege wounds its way through the city.

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