A K Hangal – The Grand Old Man of Indian Cinema
What is creditable while watching the sequence in Sholay is all eyes automatically focus on A K Hangal in spite of all the stars being present. It is Hangal Saab who has been instrumental in grabbing viewer’s attention in ‘Itna sannata kyon hai bhai’.
On one side we celebrated the centenary year of Indian Cinema and remembering the legends who contributed extensively in the past 100 years and on the other side we have seen passing away of some of the well known film personalities from the Indian Film Industry like superstar Rajesh Khanna, Dara Singh, B.R. Ishara, Ashok Mehta and actor A K Hangal.
Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay celebrates 44th year of success this year but very unlikely one can forget the character actor Avtar Kishan Hangal popularly known as A K Hangal who played the notable role of “Rahim Chacha” in the movie keeping great influence on the audiences even today with his famous one liner, “Itna sannata kyon hai, bhai”. In Sholay, “I was given the character role of a blind man and to get this character right I used psycho-technique to get the feeling of blindness,” revealed the veteran actor, when I met him at his modest apartment at Santa Cruz.
What is creditable while watching the death sequence in Sholay is all eyes automatically focus on A K Hangal in spite of all the stars being present. It is Hangal Saab who has been instrumental in grabbing the viewer’s attention in that scene.
As my conversation continued Hangal Saab’s eyes brightened up. “When we were filming Sholay we never thought the film would go on to become such a sensation. Feels good that people still remember my character now more than 35 years after the film’s release”. He also mentioned that he was simultaneously shooting for Dev Anand’s Ishq Ishq Ishq at Nepal. “Devsaab had arranged a special helicopter for me. I used to finish my work for Sholay and fly back to Nepal”.
A highly disciplined and humble man Hangal Saab never approached anyone for work. “I have been honest to my profession and have never troubled any filmmaker. All my co-actors respected me a lot and I feel proud about it”, said the actor.
Before coming to work in films Hangal Saab was known for his reputation and extensive work carried out with IPTA. Every role he has played he took pride in it and worked upon it very seriously. A K Hangal had once said this to Sanjeev Kumar, “If you start with a hero’s role, that’s all you’ll remain. You’ll never become an actor”.
It’s sad that A K Hangal has left each one of us which indeed is a permanent loss for the industry which just cannot be replaced. Hangal Saab was conferred the Padmabhushan in 2006 and had also penned his autobiography titled “Life and Times of A K Hangal”.