Saeed Jaffrey, ‘Gandhi’ Actor, Dies at 86

Saeed Jaffrey Dead
Tom Pilston / The Independent/REX Shutterstock

Saeed Jaffrey, one of India’s most beloved actors, who also had a long career in the U.K., died on Sunday. He was 86.

News of his death was announced by his niece Shaheen Aggarwaal. It was greeted by messages of condolence from the film industry and politicians alike.

“Saeed Jaffrey was a multifaceted actor whose flair & versatility will always be remembered. Deepest condolences on his passing away,” wrote Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter.

Jaffrey appeared in some 200 movies and TV shows over a long career. International titles included “Gandhi,” “The Man Who Would Be King” and “A Passage to India,” but also featured in classic Indian films including Satyajit Ray’s “The Chess Players.”

His much appreciated Bollywood performances include turns in Shekhar Kapur’s debut “Masoom”, Raj Kapoor’s “Ram Teri Ganga Maili”, Sai Paranjpye’s “Chashme Buddoor” and Indra Kumar’s “Dil”.

“Goodbye dear Sayeed. Started my career with u in Masoom. Cant forget ur kindness n enthusiasm for your art n others,” Kapur wrote on Twitter.

Jaffrey was prolific on British television and appeared on several hit shows including “The Jewel in the Crown”, “Gangsters”, “Coronation Street”, “Little Napoleons” and “Tandoori Nights”.

He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, before winning a Fulbright scholarship to study in the U.S. He formed his own theater group Unity Theater in New Delhi performing stage plays by English-language masters including William Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams.

He was married to and had three daughters, including actress Sakina Jaffrey (“House of Cards”), with Madhur Jaffrey, the actress and celebrity cook, before divorcing in 1965. He was the first Indian actor to receive the British civilian medal, the Order of the British Empire, for his contributions to drama.

Jaffrey is survived by Jennifer Jaffrey, the casting agent who he married in 1980.

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