Popularly known as the “Naresh-Mahesh duo” in the Gujarati film industry, they sang together – and died together. Two days after his elder brother, Mahesh Kanodia (83) died after a prolonged illness, Gujarati cinema ‘superstar’-turned-politician Naresh Kanodia (77) died of Covid-19 on Tuesday morning.
“People talk of Ram-Lakshman, but they actually proved it,” said Naresh’s son, Hitu, BJP MLA from Idar.
“He (Naresh) was brought to the hospital on October 20; the next day, he was put on ventilator since he was having breathing problems,” said Dr Kaushik Barot at the UN Mehta Institute of Cardiology and Research Centre in Ahmedabad where Naresh was admitted.
“In a span of two days, we have lost both Maheshbhai and Nareshbhai Kanodia. Their contributions to the world of culture, especially popularising Gujarati songs, music and theatre will never be forgotten. They also worked hard to serve society and empower the downtrodden,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah also tweeted about their contribution to the Gujarati film industry.
The two brothers started their career in Gujarati cinema together – in the film Veli Ni Aavya Phool in 1969, in which Naresh acted and Mahesh was the music director and a playback singer.
A superstar of Gujarati cinema, Naresh worked in over 300 films in his career spanning several decades. In 2012, he won the Dadasaheb Phalke Award.
“In the initial years, his name was Naresh Kumar. Over the years, their surname became Kanodia, as they hailed from Kanod village of Mehsana district in North Gujarat,” said Jayshree Parikh, who starred with Naresh in Veli Ni Aavya Phool.
“I have never met such a grounded actor, with such a good heart, and so popular among the masses,” said Parikh.
Recalling a phone-in programme with Naresh on Doordarshan Girnar, Rupa Mehta, the then programme head, said: “I have not seen such a popular actor in my entire life. At the launch of the ‘Mission Manoranjan’ programme three years back, the phone just did not stop ringing.”
“During the programme, a woman said she wanted to dine with him at her home. Nareshbhai responded, ‘Keep the food ready, I will be there right after the show’. He would mesmerise people with his charm,” said Mehta.
The brothers were known for their versatility – Naresh is credited with having introduced dancing in Gujarati films, while Mahesh introduced the concept of Gujarati orchestra.
“Maheshbhai could sing in 32 different voices and knew over 20 languages. His songs are still popular, irrespective of the generation,” said Gautam Tapodhan, a make-up artist who worked with the Kanodia brothers for nearly two decades.
The brothers later made their debut in politics – Mahesh was a BJP MP for four terms, while Naresh, contesting on a BJP ticket, wrested Karjan Assembly constituency in Vadodara from the Congress in 2002.
“I am saddened by the demise of Gujarati film superstar and BJP leader Nareshbhai Kanodia. Gujarat will always feel the loss of an evergreen actor who won the hearts of Gujaratis by popularising Gujarati films through his leading performances. His invaluable contribution in social and art fields will inspire the new generation,” Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani tweeted.
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