In memoriam: Entertainers who passed away in 2016


Death is the ultimate truth of life! This year too, the Indian entertainment industry lost some of its talents. A few of them died quite young and in an unnatural way.

Young television actress Pratyusha Banerjee allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself from a ceiling fan at her Goregaon flat in Mumbai on April 1. Her boyfriend Rahul Raj Singh has been accused of abetting her suicide, but he has denied the charges and blamed Pratyusha’s parents Soma and Shankar Banerjee for her death. The investigation is still underway. Pratyusha’s claim to fame is her role as adult Anandi in popular Colors TV series ‘Balika Vadhu’.

Film and television actor Rajesh Vivek Upadhyay died on January 14 at the age of 66. He was best known for his role as astrologer Guran in Aamir Khan starrer superhit film ‘Lagaan’ and the postmaster in Shah Rukh Khan’s 2004 film ‘Swades’. The actor suffered a cardiac arrest while he was shooting for a South Indian film in Hyderabad. He was first introduced by Shyam Benegal in his film ‘Junoon’ (1978). He has appeared in a string of Bollywood films such as ‘Bunty Aur Babli’, ‘Son of Sardar’, ‘Jodha Akbar’, ‘Bandit Queen’, ‘Karan Arjun’, ‘Agneepath’ (2012), ‘God Tussi Great Ho’ etc. He was a part of TV shows ‘Mahabharat’ and ‘Bharat Ek Khoj’.

Veteran film and television actor Suresh Chatwal passed away on May 28 in Mumbai after a prolonged illness. He has worked in a number of Bollywood films, including ‘Karan Arjun’, ‘Koyla’, ‘Hulchul’, ‘Bichhoo’ and ‘Munna Bhai MBBS’. He was last seen on the big screen in the 2010 thriller ‘Nakshatra’. He has also featured in several television series, including the popular SAB TV series ‘F.I.R.’, in which he played the role of Commissioner Suraj Agnihotri. His co-star in the comedy series, Kavita Kaushik described him as “… A man full of high energy and old filmy stories.” 

Veteran Bollywood comedian Razzak Khan suffered a massive heart attack on June 1, and was rushed to Holy Family Hospital in Bandra, Mumbai. However, doctors there declared him dead on arrival. The popular comic actor made his debut with ‘Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja’ in1993. He has starred in over 90 films in his career span. Razak Khan, featured in movies like ‘Hello Brother’, ‘Hungama’, ‘Hera Pheri’, ‘Baadshah’, ‘Joru Ka Gulam’ and ‘Kya Kool Hai Hum’ among many others, and had the quirkiest of character names like Bisleri, Ninja Chacha, Munna Mobile and Lucky Chikna to name a few. 

Sulabha Deshpande, a noted actress and theatre director, passed away at her Mumbai residence on June 4, aged 78-79. The veteran actress wasn’t keeping well for a long time and succumbed to her illness. She has worked in both mainstream and parallel cinema, as well as in television dramas in both Hindi and Marathi. Her works include films like ‘Gaman’, ‘Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyoon Aata Hai’, ‘Vijeta’, ‘Ijaazat’ ‘Tamannah’ and ‘English Vinglish’ among several others. She also starred in TV shows like ‘Kehta Hai Dil Jee Le Zara’, ‘Mrs Tendulkar’ and ‘Alpviram’ and others.     

Telugu television anchor K Nirosha allegedly committed suicide at her hostel room in Hyderabad. She was only 23 years old and was working for Gemini Music channel. Reportedly, Norosha was on a video call with her boyfriend Ritwik who was based in Canada. She allegedly had a fight with him and threatened to kill herself and then went on to hang herself with her dupatta, while the call was still ongoing.

Punjabi folk singer Manpreet Akhtar, known in Bollywood for her inimitable number ‘Tujhe yaad na meri aayi’ from the film ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, died at a local hospital in Patiala on January 17. The 55-year-old singer suffered a heart attack coupled with a brain haemorrhage. Manpreet belonged to a legendary family of Punjabi singers. Her father Keere Khan Shaukin and her maternal uncle Sabar Hussain Sabar were considered the pillars of Punjabi ‘gayaki’. She is the sister of famous Punjabi singer Dilshad Akhtar who was shot dead in 1995. Her two sons - Naved Akhtar and Lavid Akhtar are also singers.

Noted Malayalam film actress Kalpana died in Hyderabad on January 25 due to heart attack. She was 51. She was in Hyderabad for the shooting of a Telugu film. Kalpana was found unconscious in her hotel room and was rushed to Apollo Hospital where she was declared dead by doctors. She has featured in over 300 films in various South Indian languages and was popular for her comic roles. Kalpana won the National Award for Best Supporting Actress for 2012 Malayalam film ‘Thanichalla Njan’.