Veteran theatre and film actor Vikram Gokhale, who made waves in Indian cinema and television industry with his acclaimed work, died on Saturday after multi-organ failure. Gokhale breathed his last in Pune at the Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital. He was 77. The actor had been hospitalised there since November 5.
As per a statement by the hospital authorities, Gokhale’s health began deteriorating on Saturday morning following which he was put on ventilator support. His mortal remains will be taken to Bal Gandharva Rang Mandir and last rites will be performed at Vaikunth in the evening.
With a career that spanned drama, comedy, direction, theatre, television and film, Gokhale will be remembered for, above all else, his powerful personality and voice.
Born in Pune on November 14, 1945, Gokhale was the eldest child in his family. His father Chandrakant Gokhale was a veteran Marathi film and stage artiste and acted in over 70 Marathi and Hindi films. His grandmother Kamlabai Gokhale was the first female child actor of Indian cinema, who was directed by iconic filmmaker Dadasaheb Phalke in his 1913 silent movie ‘Mohini Bhasmasur’.
While growing up, Gokhale had no plans to venture into acting. The late actor had, in fact, mentioned in one of his interviews that he would have been “a really great retired personality" from the Indian Air Force if it wasn’t for his family’s financial situation. Being the eldest in the family, Gokhale took it upon himself to run the house. He took a job as a clerk in a corporate only to quit it in seven days. It so happened that iconic Marathi playwright Balakrishna Hari Kolhatkar offered him a play on the same day and Gokhale agreed. He went on to work with Kolhatkar’s drama company for five years before bidding adieu to it in 1968 as he was not getting an artistic satisfaction.
In 1971, Gokhale made his acting debut with the critically acclaimed Marathi film Mai Mauli, which revolves around the issue of caste discrimination. In the same year, the actor ventured into Hindi cinema with Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Parwana, in which he played a brief role of a police officer. Gokhale went on to work with Bachchan in blockbusters like Agneepath and Khuda Gawah.
He later met celebrated Marathi film and theatre director Vijaya Mehta, under whom he honed his acting talent. After doing several plays with Mehta, Gokhale got his major breakthrough in KS Sethumadhavan’s ‘Yehi Hai Zindagi,’ which also starred megastar Sanjeev Kumar. In the movie, Gokhale played the role of Lord Krishna and earned much appreciation and love.
In 1999, Gokhale landed one of his most memorable roles as Pundit Darbar, a renowned proponent of Indian classical music, in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s blockbuster film Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. In the movie, Gokhale played Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s father, who disapproved of her relationship with his disciple, Sameer, essayed by Salman Khan. The late actor portrayed his character with great conviction and got the mannerisms of a trained classical musician exactly right. In fact, the song ‘Albela Sajan,’ which showed Gokhale’s character teaching classical music to Salman, is still considered as one of the most iconic tracks of all time, thanks to Gokhale’s incredible lip-syncing skills.
In 2010, Gokhale made his directorial debut with the Marathi film Aaghaat. He won a National Film Award for Best Actor for his Marathi film Anumati, which was released in 2013. In Anumati, Gokhale played the role of a devastated old man, Ratnakar, who helplessly goes through a series of trials and tribulations in order to save his dying wife. Gokhale further worked in popular Bollywood movies like Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Dil Se, De Dana Dan, and Mission Mangal. On the Marathi cinema front, he appeared in Natsamrat, Dusari Goshta, Prawaas and AB Aani CD among many others.
He also appeared in a few television shows such as Singhasan, Jeevan Saathi, Virrudh, and Sanjivani. He made his OTT debut with the 2020 series Avrodh: The Siege Within. Vikram Gokhale was last seen in Nikamma. The film also starred Abhimanyu Dassani and Shilpa Shetty in the lead, and was released in June.
Vikram Gokhale is survived by his wife Vrushali Gokhale and two daughters.
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