Written By Devesh Sharma

Senior Assistant Editor

Posted Mon, Nov 3, 2014

He brought out the everyday villainy of a local goon turned politician so fluently in his debut Ardh Satya (1983) that one thought one was watching life unplugged and not a film. His mannerisms weren’t over-the-top but ultimately menacing. One loathed the sight of him and clapped when protagonist Om Puri does the needful in the end.  Amrapurkar got a well-deserved Filmfare Best Supporting Award for his role. His next Filmfare came with Sadak (1991), when he won the Best Villain trophy for his role of a eunuch.

Amrapurkar began life as an actor in Marathi theatre. The story goes that Govind  Nihalani was watching a Marathi play called Hands-Up!, where Amrapurkar starred alongside Avinash Masurekar and Bhakti Barve-Inamdar. Nihalani liked what he saw and afterwards cast the actor for Ardh Satya. The actor was born in Ahmednagar on May 11, 1950 and was involved with stage during school and college itself. He was a trained singer as well. He took to acting fulltime after graduation and was not only acting and went on to write and direct plays as well.

After Ardh Satya, he got roles in several films like Purana Mandir (1984), Teri Meherbaniyan (1985), Khamosh (1985), Aakhree Raasta (1986), Hukumat (1987) – where he played the villain opposite Dharmendra. The film was a surprise hit at the box-office and from then on Dharmendra reportedly insisted on casting him as a villain in many future films. His next big break came when he took the bold step of playing a eunuch in Mahesh Bhatt’s Sadak. Eunuchs are seldom shown as villainous cretins in our films but are added in for comic relief. Amrapurkar took the role because Maharani from Sadak was a ruthless don despite belonging to the third gender. The move could have gone either way but the actor thankfully got appreciated for his efforts.

In 1991 he appeared as a eunuch in ‘Sadak’. He won a Filmfare award for his performance and became the first recipient of the best negative role honour.

In the mid-1990s he migrated towards supporting roles and comic roles in ‘Mohra’, ‘Ishq’, ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’, ‘Aankhen’, ‘Ishq’, ‘Coolie No 1’, ‘Gupt: The Hidden Truth’, ‘Aunty No 1’, ‘Jai Hind’, ‘Master’ among others. He played the role of Dr Khanna in the 1996 film ‘Chhote Sarkar’. Since the 2000s, Amrapurkar has been rarely seen in Hindi movies.

Apart from giving some power-packed performances in more than 300 movies in Hindi, the actor also tried his luck in Bengali, Oriya and Haryanvi movies. Amrapurkar had gone missing from the industry for quite some time and was last seen on the big screen in 2012 film ‘Bombay Talkies’, which was made to celebrate the centenary year of Indian cinema.

Amrapurkar will be forever remembered for bringing villains on par with the heroes.

After this pioneering role, the actor largely took a break from being a villain and appeared in supporting roles carrying comic touches in films like Aankhen (1993),  Mohra (1994), Ishq (1997), Hum Saath -Saath Hain (1999)  and many more. He cut his assignments post 2000 and was seen less and less in films. He was last seen on the big screen in Bombay Talkies (2012), which was made to celebrate the centenary of Indian cinema.

The actor got contracted with lung infection and was hospitalised for some time. He finally succumbed to the illness at 2 am on November 3, 2014. He was 64. He is survived by wife Sunanda and three daughters. His daughter Reema has tried to follow her father’s footsteps. Her short film, Janani, was screened at Cannes two years ago. The industry, as well as his fans is surely going to miss this jovial actor who made even small roles stand out.