AK Hangal: Reel father bids adieu

Last Updated: Sun, Aug 26, 2012 09:23 hrs

Starting his Bollywood career at the age of fifty, this thin structured actor had charmed his admirers by playing some memorable characters that mostly included the loving father or grandfather on the silver screen.

He is AK Hangal, the veteran actor who touched an emotional chord with cine lovers by playing some memorable characters like Rahim Chacha in the film ´Sholay´.

Several generations in India grew up by seeing Hangal playing the onscreen father or grandfather of leading actors of his time.

With the death of Hangal on Sunday, curtains were surely drawn on an era in the world of Indian cinema where the tears and yearnings of an elderly mattered for an audience sold on Indian values.

Hangal breathed his last in a Mumbai hospital on Sunday leaving behind more than 200 films for upcoming generations who can see him sharing the screen space with the leading actors of the period. He was 95.

His admirers will always remember the ´old´ Rahim Chacha uttering the evergreen lines: " Itna sannata kyon hai, bhai" after the killing of his son Ahmed (Sachin) by the dreaded dacoit Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan).

Remembering the dialogue, actor Dia Mirza tweeted: "Hangal-saab, ab sannata hai, poochne wala nahin. End of an era. RIP AK Hangal, a much-loved and quoted thespian."

Born in 1917, Hangal spent his childhood in Peshawar, where he had performed in theatre for some major roles.

His primary occupation for the early part of his life was that of a tailor.

Hangal was an active participant in the Indian freedom struggle.

He moved to Bombay after the Partition of India in 1949 after 3 years in prison in Pakistan. Hangal was involved with the theatre group IPTA along with Balraj Sahni and Kaifi Azmi.

Filmmaker Shekhar Kapoor tweeted: "AK Hangal. Lifetime dedicated 2 d art of acting in theatre. Will always b remembered by his films."

Actor Shabana Azmi said Hangal´s death ended an era in Bollywood.

"Ak Hangal no more. Funeral at 1pm near Pavan Hans opp Nanavati hospital. An era comes to an end. Theatre and film were enriched by him," Azmi said.

Hangal was seen in several films of Bollywood superstar Rajesh Khanna that included Amar Deep, Aap Ki Kasam, Naukri, Phir Wohi Raat and Thodisi Bewafaii.

He had also faced politician´s ire in his lifetime.

Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray had once called the veteran actor a traitor.

Hangal´s effigies were reportedly burnt and even his scenes were removed from films.

Sharing his experiences of stepping in the world of Bollywood, Hangal wrote in his autobiography titled ´The Life and Time of A K Hangal´, "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," Hangal wrote.

The veteran actor worked in more than 200 films in his career.

He started his Hindi film career at the very late age of 50 with Basu Bhattacharya´s Teesri Kasam in 1966 and Shagird.

He was seen playing the on-screen father or uncle in several films from 1970's to 1990´s.

Hangal was seen in several films like Namak Haraam, Shaukeen , Sholay, Aaina , Avtaar, Arjun, Aandhi, Tapasya, Kora Kagaz, Bawarchi, Chhupa Rustam, Chitchor, Balika Badhu, Guddi, Naram Garam.

His admirers will remember him playing some crucial characters in films like Shararat (2002), Tere Mere Sapne (1997) and Lagaan.

Hangal recently drew attentions when his son Vijay urged for help after he failed to meet the veteran actor´s medical expenses.

Bollywood celebrities including Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan helped him at that time.

Hangal was last seen in the film ´Paheli´ in 2005.

(Writing by Supriyo Hazra)

More from Sify: