Shriram Lagoo (1927-2019): ‘Rare actor, highly intelligent, had logic to apply to character’

Atikh Rashid, Dipanita Nath

Dr Shriram Lagoo was 92.

Dr Shriram Lagoo, who acted in more than 100 Hindi and Marathi films, around 40 Marathi, Hindi and Gujarati plays, and directed a number of Marathi plays, died in Pune due to age-related complications. He was 92.

Lagoo is most well known for playing a retired and elderly actor in Marathi play Natasamrat, and a shy and gullible teacher in V Shantaram’s film Pinjara, apart from his performances in Jabbar Patel’s political dramas of the 1970s.

“He was bedridden for about a year. He was suffering from age-related issues including dementia. He passed away at about 9.30 pm,” said Uday Lagoo, his cousin. Doctors at Dinanath Mangeshkar Hospital said Lagoo had cardiac problems.

Born in Satara in 1927, Shriram Lagoo did his schooling and college in Pune. He enrolled for medicine at BJ Medical College there, and went on to specialise as an ENT surgeon from London and obtain an FRCS qualification. He worked as a medical practitioner in Tanzania before deciding to take the plunge as a full-time actor at age 42.

Shriram Lagoo

Danny Denzongpa and Shriram Lagoo in the movie Devta. (Express archive photo)

Before his debut in Vasant Kanetkar’s play Ithe Oshalala Mrityu, Lagoo was linked with Pune’s Progressive Dramatic Association and would work there in various capacities when time permitted. He soon started working on the silver screen and came into the limelight with Pinjara. This was followed by roles in political dramas like Saamna (1974) and Sinhasan (1979), both directed by Jabbar Patel. He also did minor roles in Hindi films and in 1980 won a Filmfare Best Supporting Actor award for Gharonda (1980).

Shriram Lagoo was the first actor to play the protagonist in V V Shirvadkar’s epic Marathi play Natasamrat. He played the role of a celebrated actor who has retired from public life but is neglected by his family.

His last prominent appearance on the silver screen was in Sandesh Kulkarni’s Masala (2012), in which he played the role of an aging perfume seller.

Shreeram Lagoo

Shriram Lagoo is survived by wife Deepa, son Anand and daughter Shubhangi.

Jabbar Patel said, “Lagoo was a rare actor. He was highly intelligent and had logic to apply to the character. I can say he was a modern method actor... He was my guru and I was directing him, but he never gave me the feeling that he was a senior and I was a newcomer.”

Shriram Lagoo was closely linked with late rationalist Narendra Dabholkar’s Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS). “He was a pillar of support for my father when he was building MANS. He believed in enlightened ideas and was ready to pay the price for his beliefs,” said Narendra Dabholkar’s son Hamid.

Lagoo had also started an award for theatre personalities in his late son Tanveer’s memory. This year the award was given to actor Naseeruddin Shah.

shriram lagoo movies

Shriram Lagoo and Waheeda Rehman in the movie Jwalamukhi. (Express Archive Photo)

Condoling Lagoo’s death, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said, “We have lost a versatile personality. He was a unique theatre actor who dominated the silver screen and created impact. At that same time he was a social activist.”

Playwright Satish Alekar said, “Lagoo’s acting calibre was comparable with the best in the world. He was to us what Sir Lawrence Olivier and Richard Burton were to the West. He had been acting for more than 50 years and created a syllabus of performance on stage, from his early work, Natasamrat, to the recent Surya Pahilela Manus, in which he played Socrates at the age of 75 and used to deliver a 20-minute monologue.”

Shriram Lagoo is survived by wife Deepa, son Anand and daughter Shubhangi.

“His last rites will be performed on Thursday. His remains will be kept in Balgandharva Auditorium’s premise for people to pay respects,” Deepa said.