(Major spoilers ahead)
A new year has begun, and with it, the memories of the old will begin to fade. 2016 was a tragic year for the entertainment industry, owing to the deaths of eminent and beloved actors and singers. And unfortunately, the tragic trend is set to continue as the TV’s golden generation gets older.
This list is to pay homage to the cult classics, as a means of showing respect and remembering the lost heroes.
Very few roles are as iconic as the astrologer, Guran, from one of the most inspirational sports film India has produced. Whoever has watched the movie will forever remember Guran’s epic batting style.
And let’s face it, some of us have tried to follow his footsteps in our gully cricket matches. No? Just me? Okay.
The actor who played Guran, however, passed away at the beginning of the year, on 14th January, 2016. Rajesh Vivek was a National School of Drama graduate (no surprises there) and had his debut in Junoon (1978) by Shyam Benegal. He has had a pretty successful film career for over two decades in the hindi film and television industry. If you are interested to check his other works out, do watch, Gandhi (1982), Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985), Mahabharat (TV series – 1988), Karan Arjun (1995), Swades (2004) and Agneepath (2012).
Brace yourselves, because this is going to be an emotional wreck ride. The twinkling eyed gentleman who struck that one deep cord in our hearts with his baritone voice and his unique flair for drama passed away on the same day as Rajesh Vivek.
Alan Rickman’s performance is internationally acclaimed in many a movies, but, the way he brought Rowling’s Snape to life in the Harry Potter universe is truly a spectacle to marvel at.
If you say you did not hate him when he ‘tried to make harry fall to his death’, or ‘sided with the dark lord’, or ‘kill Albus Dumbledore’; if you say you did not get shivers when his patronus emerged as a Doe, or when his voice spelled “Always” in a way no one can replace, or when his memory showed Harry that whatever he did, he did for love; if you say you did not choke even a little when he died, painfully, and yet in peace, staring into Lily’s eyes, then I’d call you a liar. Because that’s how good Alan Rickman was.
He was justly featured in American Film Institute’s list of Best Villains in Film History, for his role in Die Hard. Do check out Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), Love Actually (2003), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) if you cannot get enough of him.
Mario Puzo was a literary genius. And it takes a genius of equal calibre to bring his scripted character to life. That’s where Abe Vigoda comes in. His portrayal of Salvatore Tessio will be etched in our minds as long as the cult classic lives in our hearts. Do watch the series to get a taste of the loyal and ruthless Tessio. Fun fact, the name, Salvatore was added on in the movies. The novel simply refers to him as “Tessio”. Unlike Tessio, who was executed with a bullet in his forehead at point blank, Abe Vigoda died of natural causes on 26th January, 2016, at 94.
Star Trek (2009 reboot)
The franchise is as old as the Beatles break up. And it got its reboot in the recent years, as an alternative timeline, with mesmerizing visual effects acting as a catalyst to its ever growing popularity. However, the franchise has hit a minor setback as Anton Yechlin, playing Pavel Checkov, an on board crew who is promoted to the chief engineer on Star Trek: Into the Darkness, has died at a tender age of 26. J.J. Abrams, the director has stated that the role will not be recast for future sequels implying the character of Chekov will be written out in future films. We respect his decision, and feel that this is the right call.
His other prominent roles are in Terminator: Salvation (2009), Hearts of Atlantis (2001), Smurfs series (voice for clumsy smurf).
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Find this familiar? This is a screenshot from the 1971 Willy Wonka movie, and the crackpot in the purple suit is yours truly, Willy Wonka. This image has been used over and over again as many a popular meme. Sadly, the actor, Gene Wilder passed away on August 29th. His portrayal of the character was hard to live up to, even by Johnny Depp who acted as Wonka in the 2005 remake. Here’s a meme that circulated after his demise, in good humour.
2016 was a very tragic year for the Star Wars franchise. Not one, but two actors playing eminent characters in the movies met their demise.
Any fan of Star Wars will recognize the iconic beeping of R2-D2 droid, but the actor manning the bot, Kenny Baker, passed away on 13th August, at the age of 81. None of us can imagine the hardships the actor had to go through to move around the sets in a cylinder with a lid on top, but we all grew to love the mischievous R2-D2.
The most recent death, however, was that of Carrie Fisher, on 27th December. She was the princess Leia. In a time of male dominated franchise, her character stood out as a beacon of strength and leadership as a general of the resistance. And Carrie Fisher did justice to it. It is needless to say that each and every fan of the series was heartbroken and paid tribute to the Princess.
Fun fact, she did not take a stunt double for her scene in which she killed Jabba the Hutt. When asked about it in an interview in 2014, she replied “the only reason to go into acting is if you can kill a giant monster.” That’s how awesome Carrie Fisher was!
Do let us know if you have watched these films, and if you did, how did you like them.
May the Force be with them all.
[The images have been borrowed from numerous forums, tumbler, and wikis. The copyright belongs to the respective studios and photographers.]
Research credit - Ushnish Chatterjee.
Article edit and re-edit - Mehuli Saha Ray and Nilanjan Banerjee.