Jaffrey a trailblazing actor

LONDON • Saeed Jaffrey, one of the best-known faces of British-Indian cinema and television, has died at the age of 86, his family said.

The Indian-born British actor appeared in the Richard Attenborough biopic Gandhi (1982) as well as many Bollywood films and British television productions.

Among his screen credits, in a career spanning more than 50 years, were roles as diverse as in director John Huston’s The Man Who Would Be King – a 1975 film in which he starred opposite Sean Connery and Michael Caine – and in Bollywood fare such as Indian director Satyajit Ray’s The Chess Players (1977), as well as the BBC television series and the 1984 film version of A Passage To India by David Lean.

He played independence fighter Sardar Patel in the Oscar-winning film Gandhi.

According to the BBC, his best-known roles included the Nawab of Mirat in the landmark 1980s TV series The Jewel In The Crown and Ravi Desai in the soap opera Coronation Street.

Others included starring roles in the British series Tandoori Nights and Little Napoleons.

His death was announced on Sunday by his niece Shaheen Aggarwal in a posting on Facebook in which she said: “Today, a generation of Jaffreys has passed away. Saeed Jaffrey has joined his brothers and sister and is rejoicing in the lap of his Heavenly Father, eternally.”

The Hollywood Reporter cited an official statement from his representatives at Jaffrey Associates to say that the actor collapsed at his London residence from a brain haemorrhage and never regained consciousness.

The statement added his funeral will take place in London in about twoweeks.

Jaffrey was born on Jan 8, 1929, into a Muslim family in Malerkotla, Punjab, and started his acting career by setting up his owntheatre company in NewDelhi.

He later became the first Indian actor to tour and perform Shakespeare across the United States. He was also the first Indian actor to appear in a major role on Broadway, appearing in A Passage To India opposite Dame Gladys Cooper, said The Hollywood Reporter.

He earned a Bafta nomination for his role in 1985’s My Beautiful Laundrette, a British comedydramafilm by Stephen Frears.

In 1995, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to drama.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2015, with the headline 'Jaffrey a trailblazing actor'. Print Edition | Subscribe