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India bids adieu to veteran actor Saeed Jaffrey

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 16 November 2015, 14:21 IST

Saeed Jaffrey, who is known for his memorable roles in films like Gandhi, Masoom, Ajooba and Judaai, has passed away. The 86-year-old, who died on 15 November, was one of the first few Indian actors to cross over to international cinema.In one of his interviews with BAFTA, he had revealed that he always wanted to make his debut in the Indian film industry with a Satyajit Ray film.

Though Ray's 1977 film Shatranj Ke Khiladi (The Chess Players) was not Jaffrey's debut, he told BAFTA that he felt blessed to have been a part of the film. The Chess Players also starred Richard Attenborough, who went on to direct Jaffrey in the iconic Gandhi (1983).

In his career, which spanned 53 years, Jaffrey acted in over 130 films and a number of plays. He was born in Malerkotla, Punjab in 1929. He was schooled at the Minto Circle school and the ST High School. He also attended the Aligarh Muslim University, the Wynberg Allen School, St. George's College, Mussoorie, and Allahabad University, followed by Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. He also received a post-graduate degree in drama from The Catholic University of America.

Among his many accolades, Jaffrey's achievements in the field of performing arts include the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award for Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1978), Filmfare Best Supporting Actor nomination for Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1986), Filmfare Best Supporting Actor nomination for Henna (1992), Best Actor award at 12th annual Genie Awards for Masala (1991), TV series on Doordarshan for Tandoori Nights (1988-99).

Jaffrey was the first Indian actor to tour Shakespeare, taking his company - Unity Theatre - across the United States. He also appeared in the long-running British soap Coronation Street for a short while. Watch him discuss his career here:

He was the first Asian actor to receive British and Canadian Academy Awards nominations. Jaffrey was nominated for an BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor for My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) and a Genie award nomination for his lead role in Masala (1992).

In 1995, he became the first Indian to receive the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contributions to drama. He has also served as the Radio Director (1951-1956) for All India Radio and Director of Publicity and Advertising at the Government of India Tourist Office, US (1958-1960).

While he enjoyed a successful career, he had a troubled personal life. He married actor-author Madhur Jaffrey in 1958. They separated in 1965. They have three daughters Meera, Zia, and Sakina Jaffrey, who is also an actress.

Jaffrey then married Jennifer Sorrell in 1980. However, in his recent diary entries, he has expressed regret over losing Madhurm and talks about missing her.

In one of his interviews, he revealed that he had fallen in love with Madhur during his college days. He also spoke of how his mother inspired him to venture into acting.

"My mother used to go into parties and bring the drama back home. She used to mimic all the guests, that's where I got my inspiration," he said.

Watch the full interview here:

-- Text by Vineeta Kumar

First published: 16 November 2015, 14:21 IST