AK Hangal was a master at his work: Amitabh Bachchan

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan as well as bigwigs from Bollywood remember the veteran actor who passed away on August 26

Veteran film and stage actor AK Hangal, who passed away in Mumbai on August 26, 2012, was cremated at 1pm the same afternoon at the Vile Parle crematorium. His son Vijay performed the last rites. “I am sad at my father’s demise. But what can one say, one has to go,” said Vijay. Amitabh Bachchan wrote on Twitter, “AK Hangal, passes away this morning!! A veteran, a gentleman, a congenial co artist and a master at his work”.

Filmmaker Subhash Ghai, who worked with Hangal in films like Krodhi and Khal Nayak, says he was a disciplined actor and thorough gentleman who was fondly referred to as ‘Humble saab‘. “He was an undying father figure in the world of theatre and Hindi cinema. He lived for 50 years in this profession only because he was disciplined and a thorough gentleman. An actor who would bring theatre discipline on the sets of a film shoot too. He worked with me in Krodhi and Khal Nayak and we used to call him ‘Humble saab‘ not Hangal saab. He was a great soul indeed,” Ghai said.

Ashutosh Gowariker said, “It is indeed very sad news. Not only for the world of films but also for the stage. I will always remember Hangal saab’s characters’ as ‘pious, kindhearted and humble’! His gift for giving a natural performance is unmatched. His performances in Deewar, Sholay and countless films of the 1970s will make me think of him with reverence – a ‘great’ actor.” Recalling the experience of working with him in Lagaan, Gowariker said, “I was amazed to discover that Hangal saab was very close to the characters he played – upright, honest, dedicated and humble. I bonded with him exceptionally well. I saluted him then. I salute him today! And in years to come, he will always be reference point for me when I tell my actors – to perform naturally like the great actor AK Hangal,” he added.

Some other celebrities also took to Twitter to express their grief and sorrow. Here are some:

Shekhar Kapur: A.K. Hangal. Lifetime dedicated to the art of acting in theatre. Will always be remembered by his films.

Shabana Azmi: A.K. Hangal no more… An era comes to an end. Theatre and films were enriched by him.

Farhan Akhtar: A stalwart of Indian theatre and films is no more. RIP A.K. Hangal.

Anupam Kher: The Marathon Man of Hindi cinema reaches the final winning post. We will miss you Hangal saab. RIP.

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.

Mahesh Bhatt: Adieux Hangal saab! What an innings!

Kunal Kemmu: I remember receiving the Balraj Sahani trophy at IPTA (Indian People’s Theatre Association) from A.K. Hangal. RIP sir.

Although Bollywood took to Twitter to mourn his death, very few from tinsel town attended Hangal’s last. They included Raza Murad, Rakesh Bedi, Ila Arun and Akhilendra Mishra. “It is a great loss. He was a freedom fighter and a great actor. He was a great human being. I have learnt a lot from him as an actor. It is sad that people from the industry didn’t turn up,” said Murad.

Hangal stepped into the Hindi film industry in 1966-67 and worked in nearly 225 films. Known as a character artist, he is remembered for playing Rahim Chacha in Sholay. Some of his other memorable movies include Namak HaraamBawarchi, Chhupa Rustam, Abhimaan and Guddi. He was also seen in Aamir Khan-starrer Lagaan (2001) and Shahrukh Khan’s Paheli (2006).

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan described Hangal as a person who came across as “an ideal and honest father figure” through his roles in Bollywood movies. “Few may be aware that Hangal was a freedom fighter with a secular outlook who championed the cause of the working classes, and a renowned stage artiste who worked for and through the forum of Indian Peoples Theatre Association and (Mumbai’s) Prithvi Theatre (named after the legendary Prithviraj Kapoor). Though he was part of the film industry, Hangal always fought against obscenity and other ills in films,” Chavan said.

Governor K Sankaranarayanan said, “It will be difficult to find a kinder face than Hangal’s in the film industry. His smiling, gentle face – both on and off-screen – always assured the people that he was a man with values who would stand by truth come what may. He was a great human being who received the love and affection of the entire film industry.”

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, in his tribute, said Hangal was “an actor with rare finesse” who left an indelible mark with any role he portrayed in his long career in film industry. Pawar recalled his memorable roles in movies like Shaukeen, AandhiTapasya and the portrayal of a blind Imam Sahab (Muslim priest) in ‘Sholay’ with the unforgettable lines: “Itna sannata kyun hai, bhai?”

The veteran actor was admitted to the Asha Parekh Hospital August 16 following a hip fracture. He had been suffering from old age health problems for a long time. The actor made headlines in 2011 when it was revealed that he was struggling for livelihood as his source of income had dried up and there was hardly any money for food or medicine. Following the news, many from the film industry, including actors Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan, offered him financial support.

Hangal was last seen in a TV show, Madhubala, in May 2012. He passed away Sunday morning after prolonged illness aggravated by a recent hip fracture. He was 97.