Remembering A. K. Hangal on his 103rd birth anniversary.

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Avtar Kishan Hangal (1 February 1914–26 August 2012), popularly known as A. K. Hangal, was an Indian freedom fighter from 1929–1947 and also stage actor from 1936–1965 and later became a character actor in Hindi language films from 1966–2005. His most notable roles are as Ram Shastri in Aaina (1977), as the Inder Sen in Shaukeen, as Bipinlal Pandey in Namak Haraam, as Imaam Saa’b in Sholay, as Anokhelal in Manzil and the antagonist in Prem Bandhan and the 16 films he did with Rajesh Khanna. He has acted in around 225 Hindi films in a career spanning from 1966 to 2005.

He started his Hindi film career at the age of 50 with Basu Bhattacharya’s Teesri Kasam in 1966 and Shagird, and went on to play as the man of principles playing the on-screen father or uncle of the leading men/women in the films in the 70’s 80’s 90’s or sometimes the quintessential meek and oppressed old man. His pivotal roles in the films like Chetan Anand’s Heer Raanjha (1970),Namak Haraam, Shaukeen (1981), Sholay, Aaina (1977), Avtaar, Arjun, Aandhi, Tapasya, Kora Kagaz, Bawarchi, Chhupa Rustam, Chitchor, Balika Badhu, Guddi, Naram Garam are considered to be among his best. He, as a character actor was part of 16 films with Rajesh Khanna as the lead hero like Aap Ki Kasam, Amar Deep, Naukri, Prem Bandhan, Thodisi Bewafaii, Phir Wohi Raat, Kudrat, Aaj Ka M.L.A. Ram Avtar, Bewafai till Sautela Bhai in 1996. His best performances in his later years was in Shararat (2002) his character roles in Tere Mere Sapne (1997) and Lagaan.In movies he has played a very large number of character roles, mostly positive, with rare exceptions where his negative roles became famous like in Manzil and Prem Bandhan . Producer Debika Mitra had signed Madan Puri for Inder Sen’s role but a friend advised that A K Hangal would be a better choice. The superlative performance went on to become one of the most cherished acts of Hangal.

On 8 February 2011, Hangal ‘walked’ the ramp in a wheelchair for fashion designer Riyaz Ganji for his summer line in Mumbai.

Hangal made his last appearance in the television series Madhubala — Ek Ishq Ek Junoon in May 2012, in which he had a cameo. Madhubala — Ek Ishq Ek Junoon was a tribute to 100 years of Indian cinema. The episode that featured Hangal aired on 1 June at 22:00 on Colors. In the early 2012, Hangal also gave his voice for the character of King Ugrasen in the animation film Krishna Aur Kans which was released on 3 August 2012. This was final work in his career before his death. His portrayal of Ugrasen was much appreciated by critics.

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Celebrating Cinema

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