Bollywood's 'grand old man' A.K. Hangal dies

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Bollywood veteran and favourite character actor A.K. Hangal, dubbed the "grand old man" of Hindi cinema for his elderly roles, died on Sunday aged 95.

The actor's son, Vijay Hangal, told reporters the news outside Asha Parekh hospital in Mumbai, where his father was recently admitted after he slipped and injured his thigh and back.

"My father was put on a ventilator but his health kept deteriorating since yesterday. He passed away at 9:00 am (0330 GMT) today," he said.

Hangal was born in Sialkot in now Pakistan, where he spent three years in jail for his freedom fighting against British rule. After partition, in 1949, he moved to Mumbai and joined a leftist theatre group.

The former tailor entered Bollywood relatively late in life but went on to appear in more than 200 films, making his name in roles as the on-screen elderly relative to big Bollywood stars.

He was best known for his parts in films such as "Sholay" (Embers) and "Namak Haraam" (Traitor) in the 1970s, and he was honoured with India's civilian Padma Bhushan award in 2006 for his contribution to Hindi cinema.

But he fell on hard times later in life, with his son appealing for help from Bollywood stars last year to pay Hangal's medical expenses.

Various names of Hindi cinema paid tribute to the actor on Twitter. "The Marathon Man of Hindi Cinema reaches the final winning post. We will miss you," said veteran actor Anupam Kher.

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