Indian-born British actor Saeed Jaffrey, popular for movies like “Gandhi” and “Masoom”, passed away at the age of 86 in London following a “sudden brain haemorrhage”. The news of his demise elicited numerous condolence messages from the film industry and politicians alike including Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling him a “multifaceted actor”.
From his role as Sardar Patel in Richard Attenborough’s “Gandhi” to an indulgent nawab in “Shatranj Ke Khilari”, Saeed captured the essence of the character while exuding his distinct personality.
The news of his death came as a shock for everyone on social networking site Facebook.
Saeed’s niece Shaheen Aggarwal shared the news through a post on Sunday that read: “Today, a generation of Jaffreys has passed away. Saeed Jaffrey has joined his brothers and sister and is rejoicing in the lap of his Heavenly Father, eternally.”
In a response to one of the comments on the post, Shaheen shared a message from his wife Jennifer Jaffrey and delved into details about his death.
The response read: “This is a message from my aunt for all you kind people: My darling husband Saeed died very peacefully on Saturday morning, in London, following a very sudden brain haemorrhage. I will miss Saeed enormously (we had been together forty one years!) but I am comforted by the fact he had a wonderful life and a wonderful death. Thank you all for your kind wishes. Jennifer Jaffrey”.
With expressions like “a multifaceted actor whose flair and versatility will always be remembered”, Modi expressed his “deepest condolences” on the official PMO Twitter handle.
In a career spanning over 40 years, Jaffrey carved a niche for himself as a serious as well as an ebullient actor with films like “Henna” (1991), “Masoom” (1983) and “Ram Teri Ganga Maili” (1985), “Chashme Buddoor” (1981), “Ram Lakhan” (1989), “Dil” (1990) and “Ajooba” (1991).
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also shared that losing the star, who brought shine to showbiz with his craft, is a big loss to the film industry, while West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the death means the “end of an era”.
Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore also mourned the loss by posting “Condolences on passing away of screen legend #SaeedJaffrey. His range and acting depth will be remembered for long”.
According to theguardian.com, Saeed’s roots trace back to Punjab’s Maler Kotla. He studied History to post-graduate level before embarking on a life in the theatre that took him to New Delhi, where he founded his own English language company, Unity Theatre.
He was married twice – first to co-actress and travel writer Mehrunima (Madhur Jaffrey), with whom he parted ways in 1965, and later to Jennifer, the casting agent whom he married in 1980.
Saeed Jaffrey and Madhur together have three daughters Meera, Zia and Sakina – who is also an actress. Among many honours and awards, Jaffrey was conferred with the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to drama, the first Indian to be so honoured.
Several members of the film fraternity paid tribute to the actor and reminisced about his popular films and the time spent with him.
Actor Anupam Kher tweeted: “Landed in London. Extremely saddened to know about the sad demise of Mr.Saeed Jaffrey. A very cultured, sophisticated and a great actor. RIP. Before ‘Saaransh’ I did a film ‘Aagaman’. Saeed Bhai was my first international co-actor in it. He was extremely helpful and kind. Will miss him.”
Director Shekhar Kapur, who worked with the noted actor in his directorial debut “Masoom”, remembered Saeed Jaffrey as a kind man and for his zeal towards his profession.
During his stint on the silver screen, Jaffrey appeared in about 200 movies and TV shows both on home ground and on international shores. He was credited with films like “The Man Who Would Be King” and “A Passage to India”. He was also part of TV series like“Gangster”, “The Jewel in the Crown”, “Common as Muck”, and “Coronation Street”.
His other noted works include “Sphinx”, “My Beautiful Laundrette”, “The Deceivers”, “After Midnight”, “On Wings of Fire” and “Chicken Tikka Masala”. Saeed received a BAFTA nomination for “My Beautiful Laundrette”.