Avtar Kishan Hangal popularly known as A K Hangal the veteren character actor of the Bollywood cinema passed away at the over ripe age of 95 years at Mumbai.
For someone who came into films in 1966 at the age of 50 years an age when normally actors retire, he went on to act in nearly 225 films and 8 TV serials. His last screen appearance was in the movie Paheli in 2005 and in a special appearance in the TV serial Madhubala-Ek Ishq Ek Junoon in 2012 at the age of 95 !
Born into a Kashmiri Pandit family on Feb1,1917 in Sialkot, Pakistan he was by proffesssion a tailor during his early days. He was interested in theatre while in Peshawar. He was also an active freedom fighter till 1947, when he chose to continue to stay in Pakistan after India's partition. However he had Marxist leanings and was jailed for two years in Karachi by Pakistani authorities. In 1949 he moved to Mumbai and started acting in plays along with his friends Balraj Sahni and Kaifi Azmi.
He resisted acting in films as they did not attract him. But the ice was broken in 1966 when he agreed to act in Teesri Kasam a Basu Bhattacharya film. He went on to act in nearly 225 films till 2005. Thus his film career
Some of his famous films, where he played important character roles are Namak Haram, Avtaar, Guddi, Bawarchi, Kora Kagaz, Chitchor, Aandhi, Arjugn, and many Rajesh Khanna starrers like Aap Ki Kasam, Prem Bhandhan, Kudrat, Aaj Ka MLA, Bewafai, Amar Deep, and Sautela Bhai.
However Hangal is best known for his role of Imam in the iconic Sholay, where his one line dialog Itna Sanata Kyon Hai Bhai is remembered till today,after 35 years also. He also had a cameo role in another hit movie Lagaan.
His screen roles were usually of a well meaning father, grandfather or uncle or friend or a meek old man played with perfection. His theatre training set him apart and gave his roles a depth which left the audiences impressed.
In his later years he suffered from bad health and also poor financial conditions. Many in the industry had pledged to extend financial help to him.
They don't produce such fine human beings and great actors any more.
May his soul rest in peace.