Bollywood’s favourite father, uncle, grandfather


A K Hangal, who won many hearts with his roles as the genial father, uncle or grandfather, died here today. Hangal, 95, was admitted to hospital on August 16 after he fractured his thigh bone. He later developed other complications.

Born in 1917 in Peshawar, Hangal, a tailor by profession, moved to Mumbai soon after Partition. While he joined the Indian People's Theatre Association in Mumbai, his entry into films came rather late. He was 50 years old when he debuted in Basu Bhattacharya's Teesri Kasam.

Through the '60s to the '80s, he was seen in hit films like Guddi, Parichay, Bawarchi, Namak Haraam, Abhimaan, Aandhi, Chitchor, Naram Garam and Khoon Bhari Maang. His most memorable role, however, was that of "Rahim Chacha" in Sholay. Hangal was also part of several films featuring Rajesh Khanna.

"He brought his theatre discipline to the film sets. We used to call him 'Humble Sahib' instead of 'Hangal Sahib'," said filmmaker Subhash Ghai, who worked with him in Krodhi, Meri Jung and Khalnayak.

During his later years, Hangal was seen in films like Lagaan and Paheli. "He will always be a reference point for me when I tell actors to perform naturally," said Ashutosh Gowariker, who directed him in Lagaan. Hangal's last appearance on screen was on Colors' show, Madhubala.

News of Hangal's ill-health first surfaced in January last year, when his son, Vijay, said he was unable to pay his medical bills. The Cine and TV Artistes' Association, the Maharashtra government and some actors had come forward to help him financially.

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