India’s movie industry lost two of its most versatile actors – Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor – who passed away within a day of each other last week.
Though they came from two very different worlds and two very different schools of acting, both leave behind a treasure of cinematic work and millions of grieving fans.
This double whammy for India’s Hindi-language film industry, known as Bollywood, comes amid a crippling coronavirus lockdown that has brought the entertainment business — along with so much else — to a complete halt.
"It seems we are in the midst of a nightmare," popular actor Akshay Kumar tweeted.
In normal times, the funerals for two of Bollywood's most-admired actors would mean tens of thousands of fans gathering to bid them goodbye. Instead, their ceremonies were held in the presence of a handful of family and friends, surrounded by police.
The 54-year-old Khan died Wednesday after battling a rare cancer, while the 67-year-old Kapoor had leukemia and died Thursday.
The career trajectories of both actors reflect the changing contours of Bollywood, which in the past traversed two parallel streams of arthouse cinema and commercial films. The growing acceptance and box-office viability of content-driven films over the last two decades gave the two a chance to cross paths and act in movies that were both critically acclaimed and popular.
A trained stage actor, Khan started his career with television and found work in new-age Bollywood, which was experimenting with visceral themes reflecting India's social and political fault lines in the 1990s.
It took years of roles in small films before Khan made it to the Bollywood big leagues. Balancing arthouse movies with popular commercial fare, Khan went on to play a wide array of roles including an intensely tormented lover in "Maqbool," an adapation of "Macbeth," and a gentle immigrant in Mira Nair's "The Namesake."
Unlike other Bollywood superstars with mega-stylized personas, the versatile Khan brought a rare intelligence and empathy to his characters over his 30-year career.
"He managed to walk off the screen and come home with us," wrote film critic Shubhra Gupta in the Indian Express newspaper.
One of the best-known Indian faces in world cinema , Khan crossed over to Hollywood with ease, playing a variety of parts in movies like "Slumdog Millionaire," "Life of Pi" and "The Amazing Spider Man."
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said in a tweet that Khan was an " incredible talent" and "left his imprint on global cinema."
"Gone too soon. When he is on screen, you can't take your eyes off of him. He lives on in his films," tweeted Hollywood filmmaker Ava Duvernay.
Kapoor's cinematic journey could not have been more different.
Kapoor was a third-generation actor, born with showbiz in his blood. His grandfather Prithiviraj Kapoor and father Raj Kapoor were legendary actors of their time.
Rishi Kapoor started young, receiving the National Award, India's preeminent film award, for his role as a child artist in his father's 1970 film "Mera Naam Joker."
"Acting was in my blood and there was simply no escaping it," Kapoor wrote in his 2017 autobiography.
The runaway success of the teenage romance "Bobby" in 1973 made him a Bollywood heartthrob and a string of romantic, musical blockbusters followed.
The charming lover boy of the 1970s and 1980s went on to become one of the most dependable actors of his time and appeared in some of Bollywood's most-loved films, including "Amar Akbar Anthony" and "Chandni."
To be in sync with contemporary filmmakers moving away from melodrama and mining plot-driven stories, Kapoor refashioned his career in later years to play a variety of strong character roles. His portrayal of an old man in the 2016 movie "Kapoor & Sons" and as a Muslim man forced to prove his patriotism in "Mulk" in 2017 won him great acclaim. His most recent movie "The Body" was released last year.
"There may not be another actor who grew up and grew old on camera," tweeted film critic Uday Bhatia.
In his final years, Kapoor became a popular presence on social media, and was refreshingly honest about his opinions. In his last tweet on April 2, he appealed to people to respect the work frontline health workers were doing.
"We have to win this Coronavirus war together," Kapoor wrote.
Altogether Kapoor acted in more than 100 movies in a career spanning more than 40 years.
"He smiled on screen and the world outside became a little bit lighter," film critic Baradwaj Rangan wrote in a tribute. "He gave us joy."
Veteran actor Rishi Kapoor passed away on Thursday morning at a Mumbai hospital at the age of 67. He had been battling leukaemia for two years.
Rishi, coming from a film dynasty, was known for acting prowess as well as his straightforwardness and Twitter spats.
He often shared old photos of himself and others on the microblogging platform.
Below are a few snaps of the actor’s life –
Rishi Kapoor was born on September 4, 1952. He was the son of the legendary Raj Kapoor.
One of his earliest photographs shows him with legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar. He tweeted the photo in late January.
Rishi Kapoor shared a lifelong bond with Lata.
His throwbacks often featured other actors.
Blast from the past.
He debuted in Mera Naam Joker, a film directed by his father Raj Kapoor.
His first film as an adult came in Bobby in 1973
His love life was as dramatic as his career. Rishi Kapoor and co-star Neetu Singh fell in love with each other on the set of their films.
The couple tied the knot in 1980.
The couple has been blessed with two children – Ranbir Kapoor and Riddhima Kapoor Sahani.
He took a short break from acting and returned with a bang in ‘Agneepath’ in 2012.
Rishi Kapoor last appeared in The Body
Also read: Evergreen Bollywood actor Rishi Kapoor dies
Indian National Award-winning actor died in Mumbai after battling a medical complication arising from colon infection. He was 53.
He is survived by his wife Sutapa Sikdar and two sons Babil and Ayan, reports Gulf News.
News of his death was confirmed by Khan's publicist.
"'I trust, i have surrendered'"; these were the some of the many words that Irrfan expressed in a heartfelt note he wrote in 2018 opening up about his fight with cancer. And a man of few words and an actor of silent expressions with his deep eyes and his memorable actions on screen," Khan's spokesperson stated.
"It’s saddening that this day, we have to bring forward the news of him passing away. Irrfan was a strong soul, someone who fought till the very end and always inspired everyone who came close to him. After having been struck by lightning in 2018 with the news of a rare cancer, he took life soon after as it came and he fought the many battles that came with it. Surrounded by his love, his family for whom he most cared about, he left for heaven abode, leaving behind truly a legacy of his own. We all pray and hope that he is at peace. And to resonate and part with his words he had said, 'As if I was tasting life for the first time, the magical side of it'," the spokesperson added.
New of Khan's death was also confirmed by director and close friend of Khan’s Shoojit Sircar.
“My dear friend Irfaan. You fought and fought and fought. i will always be proud of you. We shall meet again,” said Sircar, saluting Khan on social media.
They both worked together in the Bollywood blockbuster ‘Piku’. He also mentioned that his wife Suthapa Sikdar found alongside her husband.
Khan, who spent most of 2018 and 2019 battling high-grade neuroendocrine tumour in London, is one of India’s finest actors who understood the syntax and grammar of Hollywood films.
Movies that debuted on a streaming service without a theatrical run will be eligible for the Oscars, but only for this year.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Tuesday announced the change for the 93rd Academy Awards as a response to how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the film industry.
The film academy also said it will condense the two sound categories into one and prohibit DVD screeners for 2022's 94th Oscars in an effort to become more carbon neutral.
Oscars eligibility has been a major question since stay at home and social distancing orders led to both the cancellation of major film festivals and the closure of movie theaters. Previously, a film would have to have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theater in order to be considered for film's highest honor. Now films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are made available on a home video on demand service may qualify for best picture and other categories.
"We're dealing with the unfolding reality of an unanticipated, unprecedented global health crisis and trying to be responsive to what's going on in the world and at the same time support our filmmakers who are in a circumstance beyond their control," film academy president David Rubin told The Associated Press Tuesday.
Dawn Hudson, the CEO of the film academy, said that they have been in "constant conversation with all parts of our community from studios to filmmakers to theater owners" to make decisions that support all.
Earlier this month, the film academy donated $6 million to help motion picture employees and their families during this crisis.
"Our primary message is take care of yourselves," Hudson added. "We'll be flexible on our rules this year because we understand how unprecedented and devastating this is."
The academy's board noted, however, that when theaters reopen, the rules exemption will no longer apply. Many expect cinemas nationwide to reopen by June or July. If that is the case, the film academy will expand the qualifying theaters beyond Los Angeles County to include venues in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami and Atlanta.
"The theatrical experience is the DNA of the academy and that communal experience of the movie theater is something we feel is intrinsic to movies," said Hudson.
Other changes included combining the sound mixing and sound editing categories into best achievement in sound.
"This is something long in the making and generated by the experts in the sound field. They wanted to propose this change after reviewing a long history of overlap," Rubin said. "They wanted it to be reflective of how the sound industry works together today."
Additionally, all film academy members are now able to vote in the first round for international feature film, the category formerly known as best foreign language film.
The board also said for a film score to be eligible in the original score category, it must have 60% original music. For sequels and franchise films, there must be a minimum of 80% new music.
Rubin and Hudson said that the film academy's response to COVID-19 will continue to be fluid. No decisions have been made yet as to plans for the annual Governors Awards, which are typically held in the fall in Los Angeles. But the 93rd Academy Awards are still a go, scheduled to be held in Los Angeles on Feb. 28, 2021.
Nobuhiko Obayashi, one of Japan's most prolific filmmakers who devoted his works to depicting war's horrors and singing the eternal power of movies, has died. He was 82.
The official site for his latest film, "Labyrinth of Cinema," said that Obayashi died late Friday.
Obayashi was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2016, and was told he had just a few months. But he continued working, appearing frail and often in a wheelchair.
"Labyrinth of Cinema" had been scheduled to be released in Japan on the day of his death. The date has been pushed back because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has closed theaters.
"Director Obayashi fought his sickness to the day of the scheduled release of his film. Rest in peace, director Obayashi, you who loved films so much you kept on making them," the announcement said.
The film was showcased at the Tokyo International Film Festival last year, which honored him as a "cinematic magician" and screened several of his other works.
Obayashi stayed stubbornly true to his core pacifist message through more than 40 movies and thousands of TV shows, commercials and other video.
His films have kaleidoscopic, fairy tale-like imagery repeating his trademark motifs of colorful Japanese festivals, dripping blood, marching doll-like soldiers, shooting stars and winding cobblestone roads.
"Labyrinth of Cinema" is an homage to filmmaking. Its main characters, young Japanese men who go to an old movie theater but increasingly get sucked into crises, have names emulating Obayashi's favorite cinematic giants, Francois Truffaut, Mario Bava and Don Seigel.
Obayashi's "Miss Lonely," released in 1985, was shot in seaside Onomichi, the picturesque town in Hiroshima prefecture where Obayashi grew up and made animation clips by hand.
His other popular films include his 1977 "House," a horror comedy about youngsters who amble into a haunted house, and "Hanagatami," released in 2017, another take on his perennial themes of young love and the injustices of war that unfolds in iridescent hues.
Obayashi was a trailblazer in the world of Japanese TV commercials, hiring foreign movie stars like Catherine Deneuve and Charles Bronson, highlighted in his slick film work that seemed to symbolize Japan's postwar modernization.
He was born in 1938, and his childhood overlapped with World War II, years remembered for Japan's aggression and atrocities against its neighbors but also a period during which Japanese people suffered hunger, abuse and mass deaths. His pacifist beliefs were reinforced by his father, an army doctor, who also gave him his first 8-millimeter camera.
His works lack Hollywood's action-packed plots and neat finales. Instead, they appear to start from nowhere and end, then start up again, weaving in and out of scenes, often traveling in time.
During an Associated Press interview in 2019, Obayashi stressed his belief in the power of movies. Movies like his, he says, ask that important question: Where do you stand?
"Movies are not weak," he said, looking offended at such an idea. "Movies express freedom."
He said then he was working on another film, while acknowledging he was aware of the limitations of his health, all the work taking longer.
At the end of the interview, he said he wanted to demonstrate his lifetime goal for his filmmaking. He showed his hand, three fingers held up in the sign language of "I love you."
"Let's value freedom with all our might. Let's have no lies," said Obayashi.
Obayashi is survived by his wife Kyoko Obayashi, an actress and film producer, and their daughter Chigumi, an actress.
A ceremony to mourn his death was being planned, according to Japanese media, but details were not immediately available. The Tokyo city and central government have requested that public gatherings are avoided because of the pandemic.