Actor Navin Nischol who died suddenly Saturday morning was on his way to Pune with producer Gurdeep Singh to spend a quiet Holi. They were supposed to pick up Randhir Kapoor from Chembur. Before they could do so, Navin suddenly slumped forward, and died.
Rishi Kapoor, who ran into Navin Nischol the night before his sudden death, can't get over the suddenness of it.
'I had directed Navin in Aa Ab Laut Chalein. A goodlooking man and a good human being. Very cultured and a great conversationalist. I bumped into him after ages at the Otters Club on Friday night. I don't frequent Otters Club. So in hindsight it all seems providential. The next morning he was supposed to drive with producer Gawa (Gurdeep Singh) and my brother Daboo (Randhir Kapoor) to Pune to spend a quiet Holi there. But before Gawa and Navin could reach Daboo, Navin asked Gawa to lower AC in the car. Then he just slumped and died... Just like that! It's too shocking and sad.
'My heart reaches out to his family. Do you know, Navin loved that insurance ad where the father holds his heart and passes out when he is told he has to pay a fee of 10 lakhs for his son. Navin used to say, 'That's the way to go.' Someone up there heard him. That's the way he went.'
Director Vipul Shah used to regularly run into Navin Nischol socially. 'He was a regular at my dear friend Manmohan Shetty's parties. A really softpoken and cultured man. It is sad that his career didn't take off again after Khosla Ka Ghosla.''
Dibakar Bannerjee, who directed Navin Nischol in what was generally seen as Navin's comeback in Khosla Ka Ghosla, regrets not working with Navin again. 'He was an effortless actor, superb technically. He had a pickled sense of humour. He had been through all the turns of life that an actor could possibly experience. My misfortune that I couldn't work with him again. I dearly wanted to.'
Danish Aslam, who directed Navin Nischol in his last film Break Ke Baad, recalls, 'There're some people whom you work with and get to know and you wish that you could've done a lot more work with. Just because they're such genuinely interesting people with so much to learn from. Navinji was such a person. I had every intention of working with him again. I feel I'm a lesser person for having lost out on that opportunity.'
Kunal Kohli, who produced Navin Nischol's last film Break Ke Baad, recalls, 'He was a thorough gentleman. A very warm person. I had wonderful conversations with him. He shared stories of past films and filmmakers with me. I'd just listen to him as enraptured as a child hearing fairytales. In the evening of his life he wanted to share his experiences. I feel privileged I spent evenings hearing him talk about the past. I think I'm a richer human being because of those evenings with Navinji.'
Asha Parekh, who was the leading lady with Navin Nischol in Nadaan in the 1970s, remembers: 'Navin was a last-minute replacement for Parikshat Sahni in that film. A wonderful person, my heart reaches out to his brother Praveen. For years after Nadaan I lost touch with Navin. Then I signed him for my serial Daal Mein Kala which I produced. He was very focused on his work. Sixty-five is no age to go.'
Nagesh Kukunoor in whose film Bollywood Calling Navin was a delight, feels the actor never got his due. 'He was an outstanding actor. I've many fond memories of Navin from the Bollywood Calling days.'
Prakash Jha had a very emotional bonding with Navin. 'The very first shooting that I ever saw was Navin Nischol's. It was in a film called Dharma and Navin was shooting a qwaalli (Raaz ki baat keh doon) with Pran Saab and Bindu at the Sun 'n' Sand. This was in 1972. And this was the only film where I ever served as an assistant. Navin never stopped teasing me about it.'
When Shabana Azmi, who's currently in Washington and who did two of her most important films Ek Baar Kaho and Log Kya Kehenge with Navin Nischol, heard of his death she was shocked.
'I remember Navin fondly. He was an underrated actor who had a very good voice and flawless diction both of which are rare. His performance in Lekh Tandon's Ek Baar Kaho is gentle, sophisticated and memorable. He used to often reminisce about his overnight stardom and the cruelty with which it was snatched away. It made him sometimes bitter, sometimes philosophical but he came to terms with it and moved on. His performance in Nagesh Kukoonoor's film Bollywood Calling as an aging filmstar was very moving. My condolences to the family.'