2020 will be a year remembered not only for the novel and deadly coronavirus that brought the entire world to a standstill but also for celebrity deaths that are difficult to come to terms with. Several celebrities passed away this year, some due to covid-19, some due to some other disease or by suicide; their deaths were tragic and left a deep void in the hearts of the film fraternity and their fans.
Following are the celebs that went away too soon.
Irrfan – April 29, 2020
Much before Priyanka Chopra Jonas made entry in Hollywood, Irrfan was our most successful export. The acclaimed actor passed away on April 29, 2020 leaving a deep void in the hearts of his family, fans and fraternity. He was 53 years old at the time of his passing. Irrfan was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour in 2018 and battled the disease for two years. The actor went for treatment to London for the greater part of 2018-19. However, in 2020 he was admitted for a colon infection from which he could not recover. Known for films like Salaam Bombay!, Haasil, Paan Singh Tomar, Hindi Medium, Life in a…Metro, Maqbool, The Namesake, Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire, New York, Jurassic World, The Amazing Spider-Man, Inferno, Piku, The Lunchbox, Gunday, Haider, Angrezi Medium and several others Irrfan’s demise was mourned by Bollywood as well as Hollywood. Irrfan is survived by his wife Sutapa Sikdar and sons Babil Khan and Ayan Khan.
Rishi Kapoor – April 30, 2020
Not a day had passed by for the fraternity and fans to get over Irrfan’s death when the news of veteran actor Rishi Kapoor’s death came in. He passed away at the age of 67. The actor was diagnosed with leukemia in 2018 and went to the New York City for treatment. After a successful treatment he came to India on September 26, 2019 and was raring to start work. However, he was admitted to the hospital on April 29, 2020 due to breathing difficulties and breathed his last on April 30, 2020. Rishi had been a stalwart in Bollywood and was one of the most successful actors in the history of Indian cinema. His notable films include Mera Naam Joker (as a child artist), Bobby, Khel Khel Mein, Kabhi Kabhie, Sargam, Chandni, Karz, Rafoo Chakkar, Laila Majnu, Amar Akbar Anthony, Hum Kisise Kum Naheen, Prem Rog, Coolie, Saagar, Nagina, Naseeb Apna Apna, Henna, Deewana, Bol Radha Bol, Damini, Love Aaj Kal, Do Dooni Chaar, Agneepath, Housefull 2, Student of the Year, Chashme Buddoor, Kapoor & Sons, 102 Not Out, Manto, Mulk and several others. Rishi is survived by his wife and actress Neetu Kapoor, daughter Riddhima Kapoor Sahni and son Ranbir Kapoor.
Wajid Khan – June 1, 2020
Music composer Wajid Khan, of the popular music director duo Sajid-Wajid passed away on June 1, 2020. The talented singer-musician was suffering from liver and heart ailments. Wajid was admitted to a hospital in Mumbai for over two months and was in critical condition before he breathed his last. His demise was mourned by several celebs and his fans. Wajid along with his brother Sajid gave numerable hit tracks such as Mujhse Shadi Karogi, Soni De Nakhre, Hudd Hudd Dabangg, Fevicol Se, Chinta tat a chita chita and others.
Basu Chatterjee – June 4, 2020
2020 also took away one of Hindi cinema’s greatest directors in Basu Chatterjee. The veteran director breathed his last on June 4, 2020 at the ripe old age of 93. Chatterjee was a pioneer of the 70s middle-of-the-road cinema that was a precursor of what is known as content-driven cinema of today. Along with Hrishikesh Mukherjee, he ushered in an era of films that were devoid of ornamentations, western influences and highlighted everyday stories of common people with some stellar acting from his cast who were actors and not stars. He championed the cause of the boy-next-door and the girl-next-door and was a more relatable alternative to larger-than-life male protagonist of masala cinema of the era. Amol Palekar was the protagonist in most of his films and gloriously performed the characters Chatterjee fleshed out for him. Basu’s notable films include Chhoti Si Baat, Chitchor, Rajnigandha, Baton Baton Mein, Piya Ka Ghar, Swami, Manpasand, Priyatama, Manzil, Chakrvyuh, Prem Vivah, Khatta Meetha, Dillagi, Shaukeen, Jeena Yahan, Kamla ki Maut, Ek Ruka Hua Faisla, Chameli ki Shaadi, Sheesha, Triyacharitra, Gudgudee and others. He carried his trademark, believeable world of his stories onto the small screen as well and found a ready audience waiting for him to wave his magic wand and Chatterjee brimming with ideas managed to spell his magic on television as well with hit series like Byomkesh Bakshi, Rajani Kakkaji Kahin, Darpan, Bheem Bhavani and Ek Ruka Hua Faisla.
Chiranjeevi Sarja – June 7, 2020
Chiranjeevi Sarja was a leading hero in Kannada films. Hailing from a family of actors, Sarja acted in more than 20 films in a career spanning 11 years. On June 6, 2020, Sarja suffered convulsions and complained of breathlessness. The following day, he developed chest pain and collapsed in the afternoon, following which he was taken to the hospital in Jayanagar in an ‘unresponsive state’. The doctors declared him dead citing a cardiac arrest as the cause of death on June 7, 2020. Sarja made his debut in Vayuputra in 2009 and followed it up in films like Varadhdhanayaka, Amma I Love You, Whistle, Chandralekha, Aatagara, Aake, Shivarjuna etc. He is survived by his wife Meghana Raj Sarja and his son who was born after his death.
Sushant Singh Rajput – June 14, 2020
The country got a rude shock when it woke up to the news of the untimely and tragic demise of Sushant Singh Rajput on June 14, 2020. The 34-year-old actor was found dead at his flat by his housemates. At the onset it looked like suicide and several theories about depression, nepotism, groupism against Sushant were floated. However, later on a case of abetment to suicide was filed by the actor’s family against his girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty. Sushant’s death also saw an unprecedented surge of public support who demanded justice for the actor and were unsatisfied by the explanation given by Mumbai Police while several other theories and chat records pertaining to drugs surfaced in the media. #JusticeForSSR have been trending on social media ever since Sushant breathed his last and his case was handed over to the CBI over due to mounting pressure from the public. Narcotics Control Bureau also stepped in to investigate when chat records of Rhea and her brother Showik Chakraborty became public that hinted at procurement of banned drug substances.
Sushant’s death was truly tragic as he was a very promising young leading actor who had several hit films under his belt and was an accomplished dancer, an impeccable actor, highly intelligent and a space buff. His demise was mourned not only by fans in India but also by the Israeli government and the International Space University who paid tributes to him. His last release Dil Bechara broke all records of viewership on an OTT platform when it was released after his death. Sushant will be best remembered for his performances in the films Mahendra Singh Dhoni: The Untold Story, Detective Byomkesh Bakshi, Kedarnath, Raabta, Kai Po Che!, Shuddh Desi Romance, Dil Bechara, PK, Chhichhore, Sonchiriya and TV series Pavitra Rishta and Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil. Sushant is survived by his father and four elder sisters.
Saroj Khan – July 3, 2020
Veteran and popular choreographer Saroj Khan also passed away this year on July 3, 2020. She was 71 years old. Saroj was a pioneer in Bollywood films as she was the first woman choreographer in the male-dominated film industry. With a career spanning over forty years, she choreographed more than 3000 songs. She died on July 3, 2020, of a sudden cardiac arrest. Saroj’s exemplary Bollywood journey is what legends are made of. She started her career as an assistant choreographer and a background dancer but got her first big break with the film Geeta Mera Naam. However, she had to wait many years to truly claim her place in the sun which she got by choreographing Sridevi’s iconic dance number Hawa Hawai in Mr.India. Her notable works with Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla, Urmila Matondkar, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Aishwarya Rai has stood the test of time and are some of the best choreographed numbers of Bollywood. Her notable works include Hawa Hawai (Mr India), Chane Ke Khet Mein (Anjaam), Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai (Khalnayak), Dhak Dhak Karne Laga (Beta), Yeh Ishq Hai (Jab We Met), Ramta Jogi (Taal), Radha Kaise Na Jale (Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India), Dola Re Dola (Devdas), Maar Daal (Devdas), Ek Do Teen (Tezaab), Main Teri Dushman (Nagina), Tamma Tamma (Thanedar), Nimbooda (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam), Tabah Ho Gaye (Kalank) etc.
SP Balasubrahmanyam – September 25, 2020
The coronavirus claimed veteran singer SP Balasubrahmanyam. He passed away at the age of 74 on September 25, 2020. The celebrated singer was admitted to Chennai’s MGM Healthcare Hospital since August 5, after testing positive for COVID-19. The singer tested negative for the novel and deadly Coronavirus on September 8 but could not be taken off the ventilator because of the condition of his lungs. His son SP Charan kept appraising his fans about his health but the singer could not make it. Balasubrahmanyam’s demise was a big blow to the Hindi as well as the Southern film industry. he held the Guinness World Record for recording the highest number of songs by a singer with over 40,000 songs. He predominantly sang for Kamal Haasan and Salman Khan in Bollywood and was known as ‘Salman’s voice’. His notable Hindi film songs include Saathiya Tune Kya Kiya, Tumse Milne Ki Tamanna Hai, Pehli Baar Mile Hain, Bahut Pyaar Karte Hai, Aake Teri Baahon Mein, Hum Na Samjhe The, Roja Jaaneman, Yeh Haseen Vadiyan, Aaja Shaam Hone Aayi, Hum Bane Tum Bane Ek Duje Ke Liye, Dil Deewana, Mere Rang Mein, Didi Tera Devar Deewana, Mere Jeevan Saathi, Hum Aapke Hain Koun etc. He was a recipient of the Padma Shri (2001) and Padma Bhushan (2011) from the Government of India and had won six National Film Awards for Best Male Playback Singer for his works in four different languages – Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Hindi
Soumitra Chatterjee – November 15, 2020
Coronavirus claimed another stalwart of Indian film industry in the form of Soumitra Chatterjee. Chatterjee was an an Indian film actor, director, playwright, writer and poet who is best known for his collaboration with director Satyajit Ray, with whom he worked in fourteen Bengali films. Chatterjee had a long battle with COVID-19 and passed away on November 15, 2020 at the age of 85. The legendary actor was in the hospital for over a month. He was tested positive for the novel Coronavirus on October 6. The senior actor was later tested negative and was shifted to a non-COVID ICU. However, COVID- 19 encephalopathy set in and other complications surfaced that eventually claimed his life. Chatterjee’s filmography boasts of stellar films including Apur Sansar, Abhijan, Charulata, Aranyer Din Ratri, Ashani Sanket, Sonar Kella, Joi Baba Felunath, Hirak Rajar Deshe, Ghare Baire, Shakha Proshakha, Ganashatru, Akash Kusum, Jhinder Bandi, Parineeta, Ganadevta etc. He was also awarded the Padma Bhushan (2004) and France's highest civilian award Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur (2017). He received two National Film Awards as an actor and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his work in theatre. In 2012, he received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India's highest award in cinema given by the government of India for lifetime achievement. In 2013, IBN Live named him as one of ‘The men who changed the face of the Indian Cinema’.
From the world of Fashion
Wendell Rodricks – February 12, 2020
Wendell Rodricks was an acclaimed fashion designer who passed away this year at the age of 59. He passed away on February 12, 2020. He was also an author, environmentalist and vocal advocate of gay rights. He breathed his last at his Colvale residence in Goa. It was allegedly reported that he was suffering from a prolonged illness and he died due to heart failure during an afternoon nap. In 2014, the Government of India conferred upon him its fourth-highest civilian award, the Padma Shri.
Bhanu Athaiya – October 15, 2020
Costume designer Bhanu Athaiya, who became the first Indian to win an Academy Award passed away on October 15, 2020. She died of prolonged illness at the age of 91. Athaiya won the coveted Oscar trophy for Best Costume Design for her work in the Lord Richard Attenborough’s 1982 film Gandhi along with John Mollo. Athaiya passed away in her sleep. Athaiya in the course of her illustrious career worked on some stellar film projects like C.I.D, Pyaasa, Kagaz Ke Phool, Waqt, Arzoo, Amrapali, Suraj, Anita, Milan, Raat Aur Din, Shikar, Guide, Teesri Manzil, Mera Saaya, Inteqam, Abhinetri, Johny Mera Naam, Geeta Mera Naam, Abdullah, Karz, Ek Duuje Ke Liye, Razia Sultan, Nikaah, Agneepath (1990), Ajooba and 1942 – A Love Story, Lagaan among others. The last film she worked in was Shah Rukh Khan’s Swades. In her memoir The Art Of Costume Design, Athaiya mentioned how she was the only Indian working on Gandhi in which all the heads of the department like the director, scriptwriter, cameraman, production and set designer came from England.
Nimmi – March 25, 2020
Veteran Bollywood actress Nimmi passed away on March 25, 2020, after prolonged illness. She was 87. Nimmi was one of the leading actresses of the golden era of Hindi cinema. Nimmi acted in films during the 1950s and 1960s. Her prominent roles were in Sazaa, Aan, Mere Mehboob, Uran Khatola, Bhai-Bhai, Kundan, Pooja Ke Phool, Akashdeep and Basant Bahar. Her real name was Nawab Banoo but was better known by her stage name ‘Nimmi’ that was given by Raj Kapoor.
Jagdeep- July 8, 2020
Legendary Bollywood actor Jagdeep left for the heavenly abode on July 8, 2020. He was 81 years old. A veteran of many films with such iconic characters like Soorma Bhopali from Sholay, Salman Khan’s father in Andaz Apna Apna and several others, Jagdeep was a noted and acclaimed comedian. Jagdeep’s original name was Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed Jafri and had started his film career as a child artist extra in BR Chopra's Afsana. He followed it up as a child artist in films like Ab Dilli Door Nahin, KA Abbas's Munna, Guru Dutt's Aar Paar, Bimal Roy's Do Bigha Zamin and AVM's Hum Panchi Ek Dal Ke. Jagdeep was launched as a leading man by AVM in the films Bhabhi, Barkha and Bindaya, and went on to do a few more films as a leading man. However, he found his true calling and popularity as a comedian since the film Brahmachari.
Kumkum – July 28, 2020
Veteran actress Kumkum passed away on July 28, 2020 at the age of 86. She had acted in more than 100 films. Her most notable works include Mother India, Kohinoor, Ujala, Ek Sapera Ek Lootera, Naya Daur, Raja Aur Runk, Geet, Aankhen, Lalkar amongst others. She was also the leading lady of first Bhojpuri film Ganga Maiya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo.
Pandit Jasraj – August 17, 2020
Indian classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj passed away on August 17, 2020 at 90 years of age. Belonging to the Mewati gharana, his musical career spanned 75 years resulting in national and international fame, respect and numerous major awards and accolades. He received state honours and 21-gun salute at Pawan Hans Crematorium in Vile Parle. He was also the founder of schools for Indian classical music in Atlanta, Tampa, Vancouver, Toronto, New York, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Mumbai, and Kerala and has several notable musicians and singers as his students including Anuradha Paudwal, Sadhana Sargam etc. Pandit Jasraj was a recipient of all the three civilian honours bestowed by the government of India. He was awarded Padma Shri in 1975, Padma Bhushan in 1990 and Padma Vibhushan in 2000. He was also conferred with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1987.
Astad Deboo – December 10, 2020
Veteran dancer and choreographer Astad Deboo breathed his last on December 10, 2020, a month after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He was considered a pioneer of modern dance in India.Through his career he collaborated with artists including Pina Bausch, Alison Becker Chase and Pink Floyd, and performed across the world. He was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1996 and Padma Shri in 2007, by the Government of India.
Notable Film Personalities
Nishikant Kamat – August 17, 2020
Filmmaker Nishikant Kamat bid goodbye this year as well. He passed away on August 17, 2020 at the age of 50. The director suffered a relapse from liver cirrhosis which he was battling since the past two years and although was admitted immediately, he could not pull through. Nishikant stepped into Bollywood with his 2008 film Mumbai Meri Jaan and went to helm Ajay Devgn and Tabu starrer Drishyam. His other notable works include Madaari, Fugay, Force, among others. The filmmaker was also directing a project titled Darbadar that is scheduled to release in 2022.He was last seen in Vikramaditya Motwane’s Bhavesh Joshi Superhero in which he acted alongside Harshvardhan Kapoor
Anil Devgan – October 5, 2020
Ajay Devgn’s cousin brother Anil Devgan passed away on October 5, 2020. He had directed Ajay in two of his films Raju Chacha and Blackmail. He died at the age of 51 due to a cardiac arrest.
Other notable celebrity deaths
Asif Basra, actor (1967-2020)
Ashalata Wabgaonkar, actor (1941-2020)
Faraaz Khan, actor (1974-2020)
Ashiesh Roy, actor (1965-2020)
Divya Bhatnagar, actor (1986-2020)
Sameer Sharma, actor (1976-2020)
Mohit Baghel, actor (1993-2020)
Arya Banerjee, actor (1986-2020)
Ravi Patwardhan, actor (1937-2020)
Avinash Kharshikar (1952-2020)
Jagesh Mukati, actor (1973-2020)
Jaya Prakash Reddy, actor (1945-2020)
Preksha Mehta, actor (1994-2020)
Sejal Sharma, actor (1992-2020)
Sravani Kondapalli, actor (1994-2020)
Anupama Pathak, actor (1980-2020)
Vishwa Mohan Badola, actor (1936-2020)
Divya Chouksey, actor (1990-2020)
Kishori Ballal, actor (1937/38-2020)
Leena Acharya, actor (1985-2020)
Anwar Sagar, lyricist
Bejan Daruwalla, astrologer (1931-2020)
Hollywood Celebrity Deaths
Several Hollywood celebrities passed away this year as well leaving their countless fans sad and upset. Some of the deaths came as an utter shock while many veterans called it a day in 2020. Here's a list of notable names that we lost from Hollywood.
Sean Connery, actor (1930-2020)
Chadwick Boseman, actor (1976-2020)
Naya Rivera, actor (1987-2020)
Kelly Preston, actor (1962-2020)
Kobe Bryant, Basketball star (1978-2020)
Diana Rigg, actor (1938-2020)
Dave Prowse, actor (1935-2020)
Eddie Van Halen, rock musician (1955-2020)
Alex Trebek, host (1940-2020)
Kirk Douglas, actor (1916-2020)