NEW DELHI: Bollywood actor and director Satish Kaushik has died at the age of 66 in India’s capital Delhi.
His nephew Nishaan Kaushik said the actor suffered a heart attack on Thursday morning.
He was travelling in a car at the time and was rushed to a hospital, where doctors said he was dead on arrival.
Kaushik wore many hats in the Hindi film industry as an actor, producer, comedian and screenwriter.
His breakthrough role came in the 1987 hit Mr India, where he played a cook named Calendar. The role showcased the comic timing he would later become known for. A generation of Bollywood fans grew up on jokes, sketches and satire based on the iconic character of Calendar.
In the film, Kaushik’s Calendar takes care of a group of orphaned children and cooks for them. His constant run-ins with the children lead to humorous dialogues and funny situations. “Calendar khana do” [Calendar, give us food] was a dialogue that the children in the film often repeated and it became part of the lives of Indians who grew up in the 1990s.
He played memorable characters in several other films such as Ram Lakhan, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro and Deewana Mastana.
His success came on the back of decades of hard work. Born on April 13, 1956, Kaushik grew up in a middle-class family in Delhi’s Karol Bagh area. He went on to study in the city’s Kirori Mal College, where his love for theatre took wings.
His early days shaped him as an actor, director and writer. He later joined the National School of Drama but it was his time at the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India that fuelled his Bollywood dreams.
He was active on Twitter, where he often shared memories of his career. In 2020, he had posted a photo of his arrival in Mumbai city in 1979 to become an actor - the tweet was met with an outpouring of love and affection.
Kaushik always had fond memories of playing the iconic Calendar, but he also often rued the fact that it typecast him in comedy roles. “I played Calendar in one movie, and everyone thought I can only make people laugh. And I ended up doing that in 150 films,” he told the Indian Express in 2021.
But he eventually outgrew the stereotype, playing serious roles in films like Calcutta Mail and dabbling with negative characters. But his magic was not limited to acting alone - he directed or produced many superhit films like Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja, Prem, Hum Aapke Dil
Mein Rehte Hain and Tere Naam.
He also had to fight stereotypes to get noticed.
He was often considered “too overweight” or “too dark” to play lead roles, but it was his perseverance and unflinching love for cinema that drove him.
In recent years, he directed several films on subjects that mattered to millions.
His last release as a director was Kaagaz (2021), the story of a man who was declared dead on paper by officials.
Despite his success, Kaushik was known to be humble and always available for discussions on films, society or one of his favourite topics, food.
He would happily pose for selfies as he loved spending time with his fans.
Many Bollywood stars and politicians paid tributes to the actor. Pankaj Tripathi, who played the lead role in Kaagaz, said he was “a fellow traveller in his [Kaushik’s] dreams.”
“We were planning to meet. Now that won’t happen, but you will remain in our memories forever,” Tripathi tweeted.
Actor Anupam Kher, who announced the news on Twitter, said that life would never be the same without Kaushik, with whom he had been friends for 45 years.
Director Subhash Ghai described him as “a man who always laughed even in worst crisis and stood by anyone in his crisis”.
Home Minister Amit Shah said the actor would be remembered for his “contribution to Indian cinema, artistic creations and performances”.
Kaushik’s last appearance on the big screen will be in the upcoming period drama Emergency.
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