LUNCHBOX actress Nimrat Kaur in her tweet has paid an excellent tribute to the gem of an actor Saeed Jaffery when she wrote - “Never met Mr Saeed Jaffrey outside of all the amazing men he brought alive on screen... a class actor. ‘Heavens’ are in great company today...”
Truly the ‘Heavens’ must have bowed down to Saeed Jaffery and spread a red carpet to welcome the legendary actor who gave ‘Asian’ actors respectability in the West and opened doors for others Asian actors to display their skill in the Western World of Art and Theatre.
Saeed Jaffrey, who began his tryst with Western Theater in the mid 50’s, is regarded as the ‘First Asian’ actors to make an impact in the West with his acting genius when he was accepted by the world renowned Shakespeare Company. Later he had the prestigious of performing at the Broadway Theatre, where he appeared in the 1958 adaptation of a PASSAGE TO INDIA.
Later the actor mesmerized the West working with celebrated Hollywood filmmakers like David Lean, Richard Attenborough, James Ivory, John Houston and brought pride to India by becoming the First Indian to receive the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contributions to drama, a rare feat achieved by an Indian.
In India he aspired to work with the legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray and even communicated several times urging him to give an opportunity but Satyajit Ray was known for selecting ideal actors for his characters and when he made SHATRANJ KE KHILADI, he did gave him a chance.
Recalling the experience Saeed Jaffrey, in a candid confession once said, “I always cherished to work with Satyajit Ray, ever since I was bowled over by his Bengali classic film PATHER PANCHALI.”
He informs, “Once I happened to meet him in person at the Beirut Airport in 1972. Fortunately we shared the same Air India flight and I was delighted when he recognized me and applauded my work.”
“Seizing the golden opportunity I requested him to cast me in one of his films. He nodded but later there was no reply. I kept reminding him until four years later in 1976, one day, I was surprised to receive his call asking me to come to India. I was elated and rushed,” he recalls.
His performance of the royal Nawab opposite the great Sanjeev Kumar in the film SHATRANJ KE KHILADI won him rave reviews and even fetched him the prestigious Filmfare Best Supporting actor award.
After this it opened a flood gates of roles in Bollywood that ranged with top notch directors of Bollywood like Raj Kapoor (RAM TERI GANGA MAILI), Sai Paranjpye (CHASHME BUDDOOR), Shekhar Kapoor (MASOOM), Yash Chopra (MASHAAL), Ramesh Sippy (SAGAAR), Rakesh Roshan (KHUDGARZ) etc.
Raaga.Com pays our humble tribute to the actor par excellence and pray his soul rest in peace in Heaven!