Eminent theatre and film actor is no more

Shriram Lagoo played an important role in the growth of theatre movement in Maharashtra and was known for his progressive and rationalist views, reports Tehelka Bureau

Shriram Lagoo 16 November 1927 to 17 December 2019

Eminent theatre and film actor Shriram Lagoo, who played an important role in the growth of theatre movement in Maharashtra and was known for his progressive and rationalist views that he expressed without fear, passed away on December 17 evening. He was 92.

Lagoo died of cardiac arrest at his Pune residence around 8 pm. The last rites will be performed after his son comes from the US, his wife Deepa Lagoo said in a statement. “He passed away due to age-related complications,” playwright Satish Alekar was quoted as saying by a news agency.

As an actor, Lagoo’s roles in Marathi plays such as Natsamrat and Himalayachi Saoli, and films like Pinjra made him popular. He essayed memorable roles in Bollywood films such as Ek Din Achanak”, Gharonda and Lawaris to name a few. Lagoo, who was a trained ENT surgeon, played a key role in the growth of theatre movement in Maharashtra in the post-Independence era along with Vijay Tendulkar, Vijaya Mehta and Arvind Deshpande.

Alekar said after the demise of Lagoo, affectionately known in theatre circles as ‘Doctor’, “we have lost a giant actor from the Indian theatre scene”. Lagoo was at par with any stalwarts internationally known.

He was the last soldier who steadfastly believed in the freedom of expression and he stood for the freedom of expression during the Emergency, according to Alekar. “He steadfastly stood behind Vijay Tendulkar and other actors of Ghanshiram Kotwal and Sakharam Binder,” the playwright said.

In a tweet, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said: “My tributes to all time great artist Shreeram Lagoo. We have lost a versatile personality. A unique theatre actor dominated silver screen and created impact. He was social activists simultaneously.

He started his career as actor in films with projects like Aahat, Pinjra, Mere Saath Chal and Samna. These films released in the early seventies but made filmmakers realise Lagoo’s talent as a character artist. During the eighties and nineties, he became a very familiar face for the viewers of Hindi and Marathi cinema as he acted in more than five dozen films during this period. He started taking up less projects after 1990 but was very active on the theatre front.

He earned many awards during his long career. In 1978, he received Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award for his work in Gharaonda. He was also a recipient of the Kalidas Samman in 1997. He was given the Master Dinanath Mangeshkar Smruti Pratisthan in 2006. He was given the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 2010. Dr Lagoo also wrote a book, an autobiography titled Lamaan.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday paid tributes to veteran actor Shriram Lagoo, who died in Pune, calling him Natsamrat (King among actors). Thackeray mentioned Lagoo’s roles in the play Natsamrat and films such as Pinjra and Simhasan (in which Lagoo played a minister eyeing the CM’s post). “Dr Lagoo was a prolific reader, writer and also aprominent thinker. He expressed his view of social issues firmly. The people of Maharashtra will remember him forever,” Thackeray added.