Actor Krishnakant dies at 94

The character actor, who appeared in such memorable films as Patita (1953), Detective (1958) and Sharmeelee (1971), passed away due to a heart attack in Surat yesterday.

Sonal Pandya

Krishnakant Maganlal Atmaram Bukhanwala, better known just as Krishnakant or KK, passed away yesterday at around 7.30 pm at a hospital in Surat, Gujarat. He felt uneasy and breathless at around 4 pm and was taken to the hospital where he died of a heart attack at 94.

Krishnakant was born on 15 September 1922 in Howrah, Bengal. The character actor, who also directed, worked in both Gujarati and Hindi cinema for several decades. He lived in Surat after retiring from films and was often referred to as the pride of the city by many.

After acquiring his electrical engineering degree in 1940, Krishnakant came to Bombay in November 1942 and joined Rooptara Studio in the sound department. His intention was to become an actor and went on to do several character roles, especially as the father figure.

He also assisted filmmaker Nitin Bose (from New Theatres) for five years. Having grown up in Howrah, he would converse with Bose in Bengali. Bose gave Krishnakant a small role in his film Mashal (1950) which led to more roles, most notably in Phani Majumdar’s Andolan (1951) alongside Kishore Kumar.

He worked in several superhit Hindi films like Patita (1953), Howrah Bridge (1958), Hathi Mere Saathi (1971) and Sharmeelee (1971). Krishnakant also had pivotal roles in Gujarati films like Gunsundari No Ghar Sansar (1972). He spent considerable years working on Gujarati stage along with stage legend Pravin Joshi at the Indian National Theatre. One of their most famous plays was Manas Name Karagar (man’s mental jail).

Veteran actress Sarita Joshi, who worked with him on the play Dhummas as the doctor of the mental asylum superintendent, remembered that he was quite active in theatre along with his work in films. She said of the late actor, “KK was very particular, he was a method actor. He was such a nice human being, decent and educated. You would never think he’s from show business. In all my years of knowing him, never once did I hear him say a curse word.” Joshi’s daughter Ketki Dave made her film debut in Prem Lagna (1982) directed by Krishnakant. Joshi was very proud and happy that Ketki worked with him on her first film.   

Krishnakant made his directorial debut in Gujarati cinema, adapting writer Harkrishen Mehta’s novel Pravaha Paltavyo into the film Dakurani Ganga (1976), introducing actress Ragini Shah. He called the superhit Visamo (1977) the best film of his career. Ravi Chopra's Baghban (2003) starring Amitabh Bachchan is also adapted from the same play.

In later years, he worked in television shows both in English and Hindi. Sarita Joshi recalled that Krishnakant directed a young Madhuri Dixit in one of her first appearances in a television serial. Krishnakant’s memoirs, compiled by Biren Kothari, are considered a great chronicle of his life and career.

His last rites were performed Tuesday morning by his son Supratim Bhukhanwala.