One of India’s longest standing actors, Saeed Jaffrey sadly passed away on Sunday at the age of 86. The news was met with heartfelt condolences by members of the film industry and politicians. The Indian Prime Minister stated in Twitter ‘Saeed Jaffrey was a multifaceted actor whose flair & versatility will always be remembered. Deepest condolences on his passing away’.
Jaffrey was born in 1929 in Maler Kotler, Punjab, India. In 1951 he founded the English theatre company called Unity theatre in New Delhi. At the same time he worked for All India Radio as a Radio Director. In 1956 Jaffrey went to the USA on a Fulbright scholarship to complete a drama degree with the Catholic University. Here he became the first Indian actor to tour America with his company carrying out Shakespeare productions.
Jaffrey also studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London in the UK. Jaffrey made a name himself on both sides of the pond, starring in both American and British TV, cinema and theatre as well as starring in numerous Bollywood films.
Early on in his career Jaffrey starred in the BBC Play of the Month in ”Passage to India” as Mr Hamidullah. Four years later he was cast in the 1969 film The Guru as Murad which brought him critical acclaim. Multiple TV roles followed as well as smaller roles in films such as ”The Horseman” and ”The Wilby Conspiracy”. In 1982 Jaffrey won a part in the epic film ”Ghandi” with more TV roles following. In 1984 he reprised the role of Hamidullah in a big screen version of ”A Passage to India” and a year later starred in the cult classic British film ”My Beautiful Laundrette”.
In the same year he took the lead role in the British TV series ”Tandoori Nights”. A number of Bollywood roles followed throughout the 90’s along with a role in British TV series ”Little Napoleons”. More recently he starred in British soap opera ”Coronation Street” and the 2011 film ”Everywhere and Nowhere”. He was also awarded The Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to drama.
Jaffrey is synonymous with adaptable talent. He is renowned for his transferrable talent that has graced theatre, TV and film the world over. The drama industry has suffered a great loss, but was also graced with a great talent.