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Celeb Deaths Of 2019: India Lost Sushma-Jaitley, Kushal Punjabi, CCD Boss

ET Online and Agencies|
The Final Goodbye
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The Final Goodbye

2019 has left a void in our hearts.

From Bollywood veterans and Hollywood celebrities to political stalwarts, we lost several personalities over the span of one year.

While big names like politicians Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld lost their lives after battling prolonged illnesses, others like businessman VG Siddhartha and actor Kushal Punjabi succumbed to their mental health struggles.

Here's a look at all the influential figures we bid adieu to this year, but they continue to stay in our hearts.

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Kushal Punjabi
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Kushal Punjabi

2019 ended on a sad note after news of TV star Kushal Punjabi's suicide broke. The 37-year-old actor, best known for his appearance in films like 'Lakshya', 'Andaz' and 'Kaal', was found hanging at his Mumbai residence on December 27.

The actor who was last seen in popular TV series 'Ishq Mein Marjawan' left a one-and-a-half page suicide note, specifying that nobody should be held responsible for his death. In his letter, he wrote that 50 per cent of his property should be distributed equally among his parents and sister, while the remaining 50 per cent be given to his three-year-old son Kian.

Punjabi started his career as a dancer and model. He appeared in several music videos such as 'Pehla Nasha' (remix) and DJ Aqeel's 'Kehdoon Tumhen' recreation.

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Dr Shreeram Lagoo
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Dr Shreeram Lagoo

The year saw a lot of veteran bid their final goodbyes, and one of them was veteran Marathi theatre and cinema stalwart Dr Shreeram Lagoo. The prolific character artiste, who was seen in numerous Bollywood movies, passed away after a cardiac arrest at his Pune residence on December 17 at 92.

He was a trained ENT surgeon by profession, but followed his passion for acting and theatre. He played an important role in the growth of theatre movement in Maharashtra in the post-Independence era alongside Vijay Tendulkar, Vijaya Mehta and Arvind Deshpande.

He is well-known for his roles in Marathi plays such as 'Natsamrat' and 'Himalayachi Saoli', and V Shantaram's 'Pinjra' made him popular.

In Bollywood, Lagoo essayed memorable roles in films like 'Ek Din Achanak', 'Gharonda', 'Muqaddar Ka Sikandar' and 'Laawaris'. He played Gopal Krishna Gokhale in Richard Attenborough's 'Gandhi'.

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Pete Frates
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Pete Frates

Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge that was a social media rage in 2014? A former college basketball player, Pete Frates, inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge campaign who was battling the neurodegenerative disease ALS. His personal struggles helped raise awareness about the rare disease and raised millions of dollars (over $200 million, worldwide) for medical research. The world lost him on December 9 at 34, seven years after his diagnosis. He was surrounded by friends and family when he breathed his last.

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Gary Rhodes
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Gary Rhodes

Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes, who put British cuisine on the map, passed away from a head injury after collapsing in his Dubai home at the age of 59 on November 26. His family confirmed that after a nice meal with family he suddenly collapsed and died due to subdural haematoma, bleeding between the skull and brain.

The chef, who earned his first Michelin star at 26, was known to introduce the culture of gastropub to the world. He was also seen in popular international shows like 'MasterChef' and 'Hell's Kitchen'.

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Shaukat Kaifi Azmi
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Shaukat Kaifi Azmi

Veteran actor Shaukat Kaifi Azmi's demise was a loss for Indian theatre and cinema. Shabana Azmi's mother, who was last seen in Shaadi Ali's 'Saathiya', passed away on November 22 in her early '90s due to age-related ailments in Mumbai.

The stage thespian, along with her husband and celebrated Urdu poet and film lyricist Kaifi Azmi, was a leading light of the Indian People's Theatre Association and the Progressive Writers Association, which were the cultural platforms of the Communist Party of India.

She was also seen in movies like 'Bazaar', 'Umrao Jaan' and Mira Nair's Oscar-nominated film 'Salaam Bombay!'.

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Geetanjali
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Geetanjali

The veteran Telugu actor, Geetanjali, passed away after suffering a heart attack at the age of 72 on October 31 in Hyderabad.

She was a part of the Lakshmikant-Pyarelal production, 'Parasmani'. Several news reports suggest that she was re-christened 'Geetanjali' by the filmmaker as the Hindi movie already had 'Mani' in its title.

She also worked in various Telugu, Malayalam and Tamil films, and was known for her roles in films like 'Illalu', 'Abbayigaru Ammayigaru', 'Kaalam Marindi' and 'Sambarala Rambabu'.

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Viju Khote
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Viju Khote

The entire film fraternity bid farewell to Bollywood's 'Kalia' on September 30. Veteran character-actor Viju Khote, who was best known for his role as Kalia in the Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra-starrer 'Sholay', and as Robert in 'Andaz Apna Apna' featuring Aamir Khan and Salman Khan, passed away at the age of 77 in Mumbai.

He was also a part of popular movies like 'Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak', 'Ventilator', and the famous 1993 TV sitcom 'Zabaan Sambhalke' that had veteran actor Pankaj Kapur, and Khote's sister, Shubha, in the cast.

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Carl Ruiz
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Carl Ruiz

Another shock came up for the food industry when it lost celebrity chef and restaurateur Carl Ruiz at 44 on September 21. The cause of death of the owner of New York City restaurant, La Cubana, was not known.

His recipes were a part of his Cuban roots and Latin upbringing, and mostly inspired by his mother and grandmother. In an Instagram tribute, his NY restaurant wrote, "Beyond his immense culinary talent, Carl's larger-than-life personality never failed to entertain, enlighten, and uplift every person he encountered along his #Ruizing adventures. His fierce intellect and infectious humour knew no bounds. He was a mighty force of down home Cuban cuisine, and lived life to the fullest, just as he cooked-with "dancing always" as the most important ingredient."

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Shyam Ramsay
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Shyam Ramsay

Shyam Ramsay, one of the seven Ramsay Brothers who were known for cult horror films such as 'Puraani Haveli' and 'Tahkhaana', breathed his last on September 18 in Mumbai at 67.

The film-maker was considered the brain behind the banner. He directed over 30 films including 'Bandh Darwaza' and 'Veerana', and was also the creator of the popular TV series 'Zee Horror Show' that brought families together post dinners.

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Arun Jaitley
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Arun Jaitley

A lawyer and politician, the multi-faceted Arun Jaitley passed away on August 24, leaving a void in the ruling party - Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP).

He held the finance and corporate affairs Cabinet portfolios for the Modi-led government from 2014 to 2019. His poor health kept him from presenting the Union Budget 2018 and Interim Budget 2019. It was also one of the reasons why he didn't contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. An eloquent speaker, he had a way with words, and political foes in Parliament, and away from it. A cricket aficionado, he had also served as the Delhi District Cricket Association chief.

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Mohammed Zahur Khayyam
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Mohammed Zahur Khayyam

The name that composed the epic song 'Kabhi Kabhie', featuring megastar Amitabh Bachchan and Rakhee, passed away on August 19 after prolonged illness. Music composer Mohammed Zahur Khayyam, who was fondly called Khayyam, died at 92 due to breathing problem and other age-related illnesses.

He was also known for his beautiful compositions in the 1982 film 'Umrao Jaan', starring Rekha. In 2011, he was honoured with the third highest civilian award, Padma Bhushan.

Acknowledging the struggle and hardships artists and technicians go through, Khayyam decided to inspire the young generation with his philanthropic deeds. In 2016, he donated his entire wealth (worth Rs 10 crore) through his charitable trust - Khayyam Jagjeet Kaur KPG Charitable Trust - to support budding artists.

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Peter Fonda
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Peter Fonda

At 79, Henry Fonda's son and Jane Fonda's younger brother, Peter, breathed his last on August 16 in Los Angeles after battling lung cancer. He died of respiratory failure, and died at home surrounded by family.

Peter came from the family of accomplished performers. But he made a name for himself after he wrote, starred and co-produced the 1969 counterculture classic 'Easy Rider'.

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Vidya Sinha
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Vidya Sinha

The girl-next-door of the 1970s, Vidya Sinha, passed away in Mumbai at 71 after prolonged illness on August 15. She started her career young at the age of 18 as a model and actor, and made her way to people's hearts with her portrayal of the simple and working woman characters in films like 'Rajnigandha' and 'Chhoti Si Baat' opposite Amol Palekar. She was also seen in the lead role in the popular 1978 film 'Pati Patni Aur Woh', among others.

In a career spanning over four decades, the veteran actor featured in movies like 'Josh', 'Love Story', 'Bodyguard', and TV shows such as 'Kkavyanjali', 'Qubool Hai' and 'Kullfi Kumarr Bajewala'.

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Toni Morrison
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Toni Morrison

The first African-American woman to win a Nobel Prize for Literature, Toni Morrison, died on August 5 at the age of 88.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author is known for 'Beloved', 'Song of Solomon', 'Jazz', 'A Mercy' and 'Home'. The Swedish academy presented her with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.

Her first book was 'The Bluest Eye' published in 1970, which focused on a black girl who wants blue eyes like the white girls. During her career spanning six decades, she wrote 11 novels, five children’s books, two plays, a song cycle and an opera.

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Sushma Swaraj
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Sushma Swaraj

Another stalwart of the BJP, Sushma Swaraj, passed away just 18 days before Arun Jaitley. The second woman to hold a key position after Indira Gandhi, she passed away at the age of 67 on August 6 after suffering a major heart attack.

She held the portfolio of external affairs, and was considered as the most efficient politician with her Twitter repartee winning hearts across borders. Being tech-savvy, she was prompt in solving people's problems, which made her one of the most-adored politicians of the country.

Like Jaitley, she, too, did not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls due to ailing health. At the end of 2016, she underwent a kidney transplant at Delhi's AIIMS hospital.

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VG Siddhartha
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VG Siddhartha

Corporate India went into collective shock after Café Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha was found to have committed suicide. The body of the coffee baron was found on July 31, two days before he went missing. After a massive search was launched for him, fishermen in Hoige Bazaar of Mangalore found his body by the sea shore.

Days before his disappearance, the troubled businessman left a heart-wrenching letter for his CCD family, apologising for failing as an entrepreneur and taking responsibility for all his financial burden.

Known for being camera-shy, the 60-year-old tycoon always preferred staying outside the business circles.

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Sheila Dixit
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Sheila Dixit

Sheila Dixit, who was one of the longest-serving Chief Ministers (CM) of Delhi, passed away on July 20 at 81 after suffering a cardiac arrest. She had been suffering from ill health for a long time.

The three-time Delhi CM was also the longest-serving woman CM of any state in India. She played a key role in driving the national capital's major infrastructural projects. Known to be close to the Gandhis, she was roped in to lead the party in March before the Lok Sabha Elections.

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Rutger Hauer
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Rutger Hauer

Dutch actor Rutger Hauer, who was known for his memorable role in 1982 cult classic 'Blade Runner', passed away at 75 on July 19 in his Netherlands home.

He was also seen in movies like 'The Hitcher', 'LadyHawke' and Christopher Nolan's 'Batman Begins'.

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Crazy Mohan
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Crazy Mohan

Mohan Rangachari, who was fondly known as Crazy Mohan, passed away on June 10 at 67 after suffering a massive heart attack.

He wrote his first play in 1976, titled 'Crazy Thieves in Paalavakkam', which earned him the name 'Crazy'. Soon after in 1979, he started his drama troupe Crazy Creations, creating over 30 plays that were staged more than 6,500 times.

He also worked in several Tamil comedies and TV serials.

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Girish Karnad
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Girish Karnad

India lost a shining star - Girish Karnad - on June 10 after the versatile personality died at his Bengaluru residence following multi-organ failure. The playwright, actor and director was 81 at the time of death.

A recipient of the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Jnanpith Award, Karnad was one of the most important literary minds of the present era. His best works include plays 'Yayati', 'Tughlaq' and 'Naga-Mandala', which were translated from his native language Kannada to English and other Indian languages. He also contributed to Hindi cinema's parallel film movement through movies like 'Swami' and 'Nishant', and is remembered for playing Swami's stern father in 'Malgudi Days'.

In later years, Karnad was seen in commercial films such as Salman Khan's 'Ek Tha Tiger', 'Tiger Zinda Hai' and Ajay Devgn-starrer 'Shivaay'.

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Jiggs Kalra
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Jiggs Kalra

The czar of Indian cuisine, Jaspal Inder Singh Kalra, passed away on June 4 after prolonged illness.
Popularly known as Jiggs Kalra, he started off as a journalist and became a food consultant in the 1980s. With a career spanning more than four decades, he was known for transforming the Indian culinary scene. His son, Zorawar, and daughter-in-law, Dildeep, are now carrying forward his legacy through Massive Restaurants. WATCH: Dildeep Kalra recalls how Jiggs Kalra influenced her culinary choices

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Veeru Devgan
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Veeru Devgan

The veteran action director, Veeru Devgan, passed away at 77 in Mumbai on May 27. Superstar Ajay Devgn's father was a popular action director for films like 'Roti Kapda Aur Makaan' and 'Mr Natwarlal'.

Passionate about films, he had initially wanted to become an actor but found success as a stuntman. Later, he turned to action choreography.

Devgan worked in more than 80 Bollywood films, and performed stunts for actors such as Dilip Kumar, Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna, Rajesh Khanna and Jeetendra, among others. One of his most famous action sequences was his son's introduction scene in the 1991 debut 'Phool Aur Kaante' in which Ajay arrives on two moving motorcycles.

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Gabriel Diniz
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Gabriel Diniz

Brazilian singer Gabriel Diniz breathed his last after he was killed in a plane crash at 28 on May 27. In a tragic incident, the Latin popstar died after he boarded the flight to Sao Paulo to meet his girlfriend on her birthday.

He rose to popularity for his 2016 album 'Paraquedas'.

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Niki Lauda
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Niki Lauda

The Austrian Formula One racer, Niki Lauda, passed away on May 20 in Switzerland at 70.

The F1 driver returned to racing after he met with a terrible accident during the 1976 German Grand Prix and suffered third-degree burns in the crash. The motor racer became a successful businessman after he retired.

His lungs were damaged after the 1976 accident as he inhaled toxic fumes. He also underwent a lung transplant surgery in August 2018. Before this, he also had two kidney transplants, one of which was in 2005.

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 Vijaya Mulay
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Vijaya Mulay

'Ek Chidiya Anek Chidiya' - this song will get every '70s, '80s and '90s child nostalgic. Known for directing the informative children's film 'Ek Anek Aur Ekta' that featured this popular song, Vijaya Mulay passed away at 98 in her Delhi residence on May 19. In 1974, this seven-minute animated film won the National Award for the best promotional film in the non-commercial category.


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 Navtej Hundal
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Navtej Hundal

Navtej Hundal, who was last seen in Vicky Kaushal-starrer 'Uri: The Surgical Strike' passed away on April 8 in Mumbai. He played the role of the home minister in Aditya Dhar's war drama. The cause of his death was not known.

He had also worked in films like 'Khalnayak', 'Tere Mere Sapne' and 'The Whispers', and TV shows such as 'Bharat Ek Khoj'.

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Nipsey Hussle
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Nipsey Hussle

American rapper Nipsey Hussle's sudden death at 33 had the whole world in shock. A Grammy-nominated rapper, he was killed in a shooting on March 31 outside his Los Angeles clothing store.

He lost this year's Grammy to Cardi B in the best rap album category. His 2018 album 'Victory Lap' was a success.

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Manohar Parrikar
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Manohar Parrikar

After prolonged illness, former Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar succumbed to cancer on March 17 at the age of 63.

The first IIT-ian to be India's Defence Minister and CM, he had been battling pancreatic cancer for a long time.

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Keith Flint
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Keith Flint

Keith Flint, the fiery frontman of British dance-electronic band The Prodigy, died on March 4 at 49. The motorcycle racer was found dead at home, and an unspecified amount of alcohol, cocaine and other drugs were found in his system. Mental health got the better of the troubled English singer.

He became the face of the band, and created blockbusters like 'Breathe', 'Smack My Bitch Up' and 'Firestarter' from the 1997 album 'The Fat of the Land'.

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Luke Perry
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Luke Perry

TV actor Luke Perry, who became an instant heartthrob for his role of wealthy rebel Dylan McKay in 'Beverly Hills, 90210', passed away on March 4 at 52 after suffering a stroke.

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Raj Kumar Barjatya
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Raj Kumar Barjatya

Rajshri Productions founder Raj Kumar Barjatya, who produced epic Bollywood films like 'Hum Aapke Hain Koun', 'Maine Pyar Kiya', 'Vivah', 'Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon' and 'Prem Ratan Dhan Payo', passed away in Mumbai at 75 on February 21 after suffering a cardiac arrest.

The Barjatyas are synonyms with movies centered around Indian joint families, espousing middle-class values of family bonding and love.

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Karl Lagerfeld
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Karl Lagerfeld

The iconic fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld passed away at 85 on February 19 in Paris after prolonged illness. The designer, also known as the Father of Fashion, headed some of the popular fashion brands in the world like Chanel, Fendi and his own namesake label.
The couturier was best known for his unique style - dark suits, white pony-tail, and tinted sunglasses - which dominated high fashion for 50 years.

Also read: How Karl Largerfeld found its ideal India partner in Cover Story

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Andrea Levy
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Andrea Levy

The best-selling author, Andrea Levy, died at the age of 62 on February 14 after battling cancer. Known for novels like 'Never Far From Nowhere', 'The Long Song', 'Fruit Of The Lemon' and 'Every Light In The House Burnin', her fourth book 'Small Island' brought the author fame. The book then won awards like Orange Prize for Fiction, Whitbread prize, and the Commonwealth Writers' prize.

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Mahesh Anand
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Mahesh Anand

Mahesh Anand, co-star of Amitabh Bachchan and Govinda, was found dead in his Mumbai residence on February 9.

The police said that the 58-year-old actor died in a very tragic and lonely way. Ruling out any foul play, they said that he '90s star died after finishing his meal with a bottle of liquor next to him.

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Ramesh Bhatkar
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Ramesh Bhatkar

Veteran Marathi star Ramesh Bhatkar passed away at 70 on February 4 after battling cancer for more than one-and-a-half years. He was in pain and was admitted to the ICU for 15 days before he breathed his last.

Other than being a part of several Marathi movies, he was also seen in Bollywood films like 'Kucch To Hai' and 'Bhavesh Joshi Superhero'.

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George Fernandes
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George Fernandes

George Fernandes passed away on January 29 at the age of 88 in his Delhi residence. He was suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and had recently contracted swine flu. The lifelong socialist became the Defence Minister when late Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister in 1998 and 1999.

He was the Defence Minister at the time of India's Kargil war against Pakistan in 1999. The nuclear test at Pokhran in 1998 was also conducted on his watch.

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Kishore Pradhan
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Kishore Pradhan

Veteran actor Kishore Pradhan passed away at the age of 86 on January 11. He was known for his work in both film and theatre.

Last seen in Marathi movie 'Subh Lagna Savdhaan', the actor was a part of films like 'Lage Raho Munna Bhai' and 'Jab We Met'. He had starred in over 100 Marathi and more than 18 English plays.

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Bob Einstein
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Bob Einstein

Veteran comedy writer and performer Bob Einstein, who is known for 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour', 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' and his spoof daredevil character Super Dave Osborne, passed away at 76 on January 2 shortly after he was diagnosed with cancer.

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