Bollywood bigwigs skip Hangal remembrance meet

Mumbai: While several theatre personalities gathered here on Monday to remember distinguished character actor A K Hangal, who passed away on Sunday, Bollywood bigwigs failed to attend the meet.

None of the prominent Bollywood personalities were seen at the meeting, which was termed as the "celebration of Hangal`s life and journey" rather than a condolence meet. It was held on Monday evening by the Indian People`s Theatre Association (IPTA) at Prithvi Theatre.

Hangal passed away on Sunday morning due to brief illness aggravated by a fracture in his thigh bone at Asha Parekh Hospital in suburban Mumbai. He was 98. Incidentally, no prominent Bollywood personality had attended Hangal`s last rites performed on Sunday.

Those present from Bollywood for Monday`s meet included Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Kabir Bedi, Ila Arun, Anupam Kher, Raj Zutshi, Pawan Malhotra and few other marked their presence.

Theatre and TV actor Anjan Srivastav performed a scene from IPTA`s longest running play- `Shatranj Ke Mohre`, in which Hangal had played a role.

Others shared their fond memories of the late actor. "I first saw him on the sets of `Bawarchi` film and I was impressed by his acting. He was very particular about his work…his role," noted writer-lyricist Javed Akhtar said.

Shabana Azmi said, "He was very enthusiastic about his work. He was a very dedicated actor. We hope to see more people like him around us."

Hangal is survived by his 74-year-old son Vijay as his wife Manorama predeceased him. "I remember when he was to undergo an operation he asked me if he will be alive or he will die…I did not have any answer to that. It was when he was in ICU I wrote a poem for him," emotionally perturbed Vijay said.

Actor Kabir Bedi said he felt sad that he could not meet Hangal before his demise. "He was not keeping well and I never got an opportunity to see him once and I feel sorry about this. I feel people will live for ever…I feel sorry as I couldn`t see him," he said.

When Hangal was growing up in Pakistan, he had heard about IPTA and was quite impressed by their work of spreading social messages through plays.

Since the time he came in Mumbai, Hangal was actively involved with IPTA along with other veterans including Balraj Sahni and Kaifi Azmi. "He led a very limited and a simple life. But he was very stylised and dressed well. I was associated with him for a long time. I learned so much from him…from acting to characterisation. He used to go to remote places to look for actors," Anjan Srivastav said.

"During the time when he was not well, IPTA was in regular touch with him. It was only in the last one year that the government started to help," he said.

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