HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
MUMBAI: Veteran actor and theatre artiste AK Hangal, who died on August 26 morning, was cremated in the afternoon, with his son Vijay performing the last rites.
“I am sad at my father’s demise. But what can one say, one has to go,” he told reporters at the Ville Parle Crematorium after the funeral, which took place at 1:00 pm.
Hangal passed away after prolonged illness aggravated by a recent hip fracture. He was 97.
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,” Raza Murad told the media.
Hangal was admitted to the Asha Parekh Hospital on August 16 following a hip fracture. He had been suffering from old age health problems for a long time. His wife pre-deceased him and he is survived by his son Vijay.
Hailed once as the ‘uncrowned king of theatre’, Hangal was not very keen to join films but ended up playing roles of the loving father or grandfather and doting servant of Bollywood with elan.
He played roles in films like Sholay, Shaukeen, Namak Haram, Aaina, Avtaar, Anamika and Parichay. He was also a regular in Rajesh Khanna’s starrers like Aap Ki Kasam, Amar Deep, Naukri, and Phir Wohi Raat.
Playing the role of Rahim Chacha in Sholay, he uttered those famous words, “Itna sannata kyon hai, bhai.”
In his autobiography The Life and Time of AK Hangal, he recounted how he ended up joining films and how he struggled to shake off his ‘gentleman’ image in Bollywood though without much success.
“I never had ambitions about pursuing a career in films and was quite content with my amateur theatre work ... Circumstances pulled me into the film world, though I am not unhappy because of it. Here, I mingled with people from completely different sphere, called ‘Show Business’, and even after many years in it, sometimes I feel like an outsider,” he wrote.
Born as Avtaar Veenit Kishan Hangal into a Kashmiri Pandit family in Peshawar, he was an active member of the Communist party there while working as a tailor. He actively participated in union activities and was
Hangal moved to Bombay in 1949 after spending two years in a Pakistan prison. He came in the city of dreams at the age of 21 with Rs 20 in his pocket.
Hangal was drawn to the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) in India. He started working with Balraj Sahni and Kaifi Azmi in IPTA. In his late 40s, Hangal was offered the part of Raj Kapoor’s brother in 1966 film Teesri Kasam by director Basu Bhattacharya but his scenes were removed from the film.
But there was no looking back for him after that. He starred in over 200 films. He mostly played roles of father, uncle, grandfather or that of a meek and harassed old man, an image he could never get rid off.
The veteran actor suffered a political backlash in 1993 when he applied for a visa to visit his birthplace in Pakistan. He was invited and attended the Pakistan day celebrations by the consulate in Mumbai thereby incurring the wrath of the Shiv Sena.
Shiv Sena Supremo Bal Thackeray took offence and called him a traitor. A call to boycott his films was made, his effigies were burnt and his scenes were deleted from films.
He bounced back after two years with character roles in Amitabh Bachchan’s home production Tere Mere Sapne and Aamir Khan’s Lagaan.
He was awarded Padma Bhushan for his contribution to Hindi cinema in 2006.
The actor was in news last year for living a life in penury. His son Vijay, a retired still cameraman in Bollywood, appealed for help after failing to meet Hangal’s medical expenses. Several Bollywood celebrities like the Bachchans, producer-director Vipul Shah, and actors Mithun Chakraborty, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan came forward to help him.
He returned to face the studio lights again recently after a gap of seven years for TV show Madhubala.
Having reached the sets on wheelchair, Hangal was not sure if he would be able to handle it physically. But he came into his element once the cameras started rolling.
Tinsel town salutes Hangal
MUMBAI: Bollywood mourned the death of the veteran AK Hangal, with Shabana Azmi saying that his passing away marked the end of an era.
Shekhar Kapur: AK Hangal. Lifetime dedicated to the art of acting in theatre. Will always be remembered by his films.
Shabana Azmi: AK 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 AK 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 AK Hangal sir.
Arshad Warsi: I had the pleasure of working with AK Hangal in Tere Mere Sapne, my first film... May his soul rest in peace.
Mahesh Bhatt: Adieu Hangal saab! What an innings!
Kunal Kemmu: I remember receiving the Balraj Sahani trophy at IPTA (Indian People’s Theatre Association) from AK Hangal. RIP sir.
Meanwhile, filmmaker Subhash Ghai, who worked with Hangal in movies like including Krodhi and Khalnayak, 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,” the 67-year-old said in a
“An actor who would bring theatre discipline on the sets of a film shoot too... we used to call him ‘Humble saab’ not Hangal saab. He was a great soul indeed,” he added.