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Remembering celebrated artistes who left us in 2020

From Ebrahim Alkazi to Soumitra Chatterjee: A look at luminaries in the fields of music, dance, theatre, acting, etc., who left us this year, leaving a huge void in the art and culture scene in India

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 18, 2020 12:28:39 pm
yearender 2020, yearender art and culture, art and culture news 2020, artistes who died in 2020, deaths in 2020, 2020 recap in art and culture, indian express newsA list of some of the personalities whom we wish we could see more of. (Designed by Gargi Singh)

The pandemic year was not only costly in terms of the impact it had on the health care sector but also because it took away one too many artistes. Luminaries in the fields of music, dance, theatre, acting, etc., left us this year, leaving a huge void in the art and culture scene in India, and even around the world. As the year almost comes to an end, we share a list of some of the personalities whom we wish, we could see more of. Read on.

Ebrahim Alkazi, theatre doyen, art connoisseur

Ebrahim Alkazi Ebrahim Alkazi was 95. (Source: Getty Images)

Ebrahim Alkazi passed away on August 4, 2020, at the age of 95 after a massive heart attack in New Delhi. He was surrounded by his family at the time of his death. Son and noted theatre director Feisal Alkazi spoke of his father’s legacy with indianexpress.com, and said: “He was active in the pre-Independence days. He was a perfectionist in everything he did, whether theatre, painting, as an art connoisseur or an educator. His works continue to inspire the young and old.”

Bhanu Athaiya, costume designer

bhanu athaiya She was India’s very first Oscar winner. (Photo: Express Archive)

India’s very first Oscar winner, costume designer Bhanu Athaiya, passed away in Mumbai on October 15. She was 91. Her daughter Radhika Gupta, was quoted as telling PTI: “Eight years ago, she was diagnosed with a tumour in her brain. For the last three years, she was bedridden because one side (of her body) was paralysed.” Athaiya won the Best Costume Design Oscar for her work in the 1982 film Gandhi.

Pandit Jasraj, vocalist

Pandit Jasraj Indian classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj passed away on August 17. (Source: Express Archive)

Indian classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj passed away on August 17, following a cardiac arrest at his home in New Jersey, USA. He had turned 90 in January 2020. “With profound grief, we inform that Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj ji breathed his last this morning at 5.15 EST due to a cardiac arrest at his home in New Jersey, USA,” news agency PTI quoted a statement issued by his family. When the coronavirus-led lockdown had happened, he had decided to stay back in the country.

Vishwa Mohan Badola, theatre actor

Vishwa Mohan Badola passed away because of age-related illness in November. The 84-year-old was a popular theatre actor before he started doing TV series and advertisements. With a career spanning more than 50 years, he became a common face in the theatre circles. His death was mourned by many in the country, including son Varun Badola, a popular television actor.

Anjum Singh, artist

After battling with cancer for six years, Anjum Singh passed away at the age of 53, in November. Her complex compositions — of mundane objects and rapidly-changing surroundings, along with her ponderings — held multiple layers. She was the daughter of artists Arpita and Paramjit Singh.

Amala Shankar, dancer

Amala Shankar Amala Shankar (Express Archives)

Renowned danseuse Amala Shankar passed away in Kolkata at the age of 101 in July. She was the wife of legendary Indian dancer and choreographer Uday Shankar. Amala learned to dance in the 1930s when women from ‘respectable households’ were just about beginning to perform classical dance on stage. On her death, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said it would cause “irreparable damage to the world of dance”.

Rahat Indori, poet and lyricist

Rahat Indori Dr Rahat Indori performing during Jashan-E-Azadi ‘Kul Hind Mushaira’ at Tagore Theatre in Chandigarh in 2017. (Express photo by Jasbir Malhi)

Indori passed away on August 11, because of cardiorespiratory arrest. A celebrated poet and lyricist, he was known for penning songs like ‘Chori Chori Jab Nazrein Mili‘ (Kareeb), ‘Bumbro‘ (Mission Kashmir), ‘Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai‘ (Meenaxi), ‘Dil Ko Hazar Bar‘ (Murder), among others, besides his many famous poems. His son Faisal had said the poet was admitted to the hospital after he had tested positive for coronavirus.

Shanti Hiranand, ghazal singer

Shanti Hiranand Shanti Hiranand was Begum Akhtar’s foremost disciple for over two decades. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Shanti Hiranand, the torchbearer of Begum Akhtar gayaki, passed away in April because of age-related issues. She was 88. Hiranand was Begum Akhtar’s foremost disciple for over two decades. She devoted her life to her ‘Ammi’, and remained the harbinger of the Begum Akhtar gayaki — the thumris, bhajans and dadras.

Jyotsna Bhatt, ceramic artist

Jyotsna Bhatt Ceramic artist Jyotsna Bhatt was one of the best in the country. (Source: Sahapedia)

Known to be one of India’s best-known ceramic artists, Baroda-based Bhatt breathed her last on July 11, two days after she suffered a stroke. She was 80.

Zarina Hashmi, artist

Zarina Hashmi Her journey came to an end April 25, when she passed away in London, at 83, after a prolonged illness. (Photo: File)

Known for her minimalist monochrome prints and themes of separation and memory, Hashmi died April 25 in London, at 83, after a prolonged illness. A graduate in mathematics, she had a keen interest in architecture and was part of the feminist movement in New York in the ’70s.

Kapila Vatsyayan, scholar of Indian classical dance

Kapila Vatsyayan Scholar, author and connoisseur of the arts Kapila Vatsyayan died at her Delhi home in September. (Photo: file)

Scholar, author, and connoisseur of the arts Kapila Vatsyayan died at her Delhi home in September. She was 92. “She passed away at 9 am at her home in Gulmohar Enclave,” Kanwal Ali, the secretary of the India International Centre where she was a lifetime trustee, told PTI.

Purba Dam, Rabindra sangeet exponent

Veteran Rabindra sangeet exponent Purba Dam died at her home in September. She was 85. According to a PTI report, Dam died of cardiac arrest at her Dhakuria residence in south Kolkata. She is survived by her husband and daughter.

K Damodaran, artist

K Damodaran India lost one of its prominent abstract artists, when K Damodaran passed away on June 15. (Image via iemalayalam.com)

India lost one of its prominent abstract artists, when K Damodaran passed away on June 15. He had been keeping unwell for some months, and died at his Mayur Vihar residence in Delhi.

Soumitra Chatterjee, actor, director, playwright

Soumitra Chatterjee Soumitra Chatterjee left a big void in Indian cinema. (Express Photo by Partha Paul)

Veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee died in November, at the age of 85, leaving a heavy sense of loss and sadness in the hearts of many people around the country and in the world, who followed his films and were a fan of his craft. Chatterjee had tested positive for COVID-19. He was immediately admitted at the Belle Vue Clinic, Kolkata. While he tested negative after the second test conducted October 14, his health condition worsened, with complications of urinary tract infection, fluctuations in sodium potassium levels, etc., making him critical.

Astad Deboo, dancer

Astad Deboo Astad Deboo was a celebrated choreographer. (Express photo by Vasant Prabhu)

Indian contemporary dancer Astad Deboo passed away on December 10, in Mumbai. Deboo, 73, trained in Kathak as well as Kathakali and went on to combine the two classical dance forms to create a unique fusion dance form, earning the tag of ‘pioneer of modern dance in India’.

Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan, classical music maestro

Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan Ustad Iqbal Ahmed belonged to the Delhi Gharana of classical music. (Express photo by Vikram Sharma)

Music maestro Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan passed away December 17. He was 66. Khan was raised in the Dilli Gharana of music. He began his stage career at the age of four, under the guidance of his teacher and grandfather Ustad Chand Khan. The celebrated musician was a recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Hindustani music.

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