- Irrfan Khan died at the age of 53
- A day later, Rishi Kapoor died at 67
- Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his house in Mumbai
Year 2020 came, devastated the world and went, taking with it many showbiz greats. The lights went out this year for beloved actors Irrfan Khan, Rishi Kapoor and Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, all of whom had been battling cancer - the last of the three very quietly. April was the cruelest month for Indian cinema which lost Irrfan Khan, 53, and Rishi Kapoor, 67, within a day of each other. Chadwick Boseman, only 43, died in August; his role as Black Panther will not be recast, Marvel has announced - instead, future films will focus on other characters in the Black Panther universe.
COVID-19 claimed several celebrities - Bengali legend Soumitra Chatterjee, 85, didn't make it; nor did beloved singer S P Balasubrahmanyam, 74. Both spent weeks in hospital before the end. Gujarati veteran Naresh Kanodia was also lost to the virus as were actress Ashalata Wabgaonkar, film producer Anil Suri, actor Hulivana Gangadhar, British rapper Ty, actor Andrew Jack, musician Adam Schlesinger and saxophonist Manu Dibango.
Perhaps most tragic was the passing of young star Sushant Singh Rajput, who was found dead at his Mumbai home in June. His death, allegedly by suicide, triggered social media which erupted in anger directed at several Bollywood celebrities who had reportedly participated in a boycott of the actor. A Mumbai Police investigation into the Chhichhore star's death was handed over to the CBI and prompted parallel investigations by the Enforcement Directorate and the Narcotics Control Bureau. Actress Rhea Chakraborty, who was dating Sushant Singh Rajput, was accused by his family of abetting his suicide and transferring funds from his account to hers. She spent months in jail as part of the drugs investigation before getting bail.
Sushant Singh Rajput's wasn't the only death by suicide this year. His former manager Disha Salian died, allegedly by suicide, some weeks before him. Asif Basra, Chitra, Anupama Pathak, Preksha Mehta, Akshat Utkarsh, Kondapalli Sravani, Samir Sharma, Ashutosh Bhakre, Susheel Gowda and Manmeet Grewal also died, allegedly by suicide.
Many veterans of the arts were also lost to us in 2020 - the one and only Sean Connery, 90, died in October; costume designer Bhanu Athaiya, winner of India's first Oscar for her work on Gandhi; comedic star Jagdeep, theatre legend Ebrahim Alkazi, dance pioneers Saroj Khan and Astad Deboo, filmmaker Basu Chatterjee, poet Rahat Indori; Diana Rigg and Max Von Sydow, who earned a new generation of fans as Game Of Thrones' Olenna Tyrell and the Three-Eyed Raven; music legends Kenny Rogers, Bill Withers and John Prine; Gone With The Wind star Olivia de Havilland; producer Joel Schumacher and composer Ennio Morricone; Kirk Douglas, Ian Holm, Dr Shreeram Lagoo, Nimmi; veteran actors Vishwa Mohan Badola, Santu Mukherjee, David Prowse, Manu Mukherjee, Ravi Patwardhan, Vishal Anand, Kishori Ballal.
Many deaths were shocking in their unexpectedness - Kannada actor Chiranjeevi Sarja, designer Wendell Rodricks, music composer Wajid Khan, Shree Ganesh star Jagesh Mukati, rocker Sonam Sherpa, Glee star Naya Rivera, Tamil actor Vadivel Balaji, casting director Krish Kapur.
Actor-filmmaker Nishikant Kamat died in a Hyderabad hospital at 50, losing a battle to chronic liver disease. Actors Ashiesh Roy and Faraaz Khan also died in hospital - both had asked for financial help to pay their medical bills. Cancer took actress Kelly Preston, who was married to John Travolta, 28-year-old actress-singer Divvya Chouksey, actors Mohit Baghel, 26 and Bhupesh Pandya.
The list of losses in 2020 is endless - Producers Guild CEO Kuldeep Makkar, Two And A Half Men star Conchata Ferrell, vocalist Shyamala G Bhave, veteran dancer Arati Das, veteran actresses Jameela Malik and Kumkum, filmmakers K R Sachidanandan, Vijay Reddy, Naranipuzha Shanavas, Johnny Bakshi, Raavi Kondala Rao, Rajat Mukherjee and Anil Devgan; Raj Kapoor's daughter Ritu Nanda, producers Vinay Sinha and Harish Shah, actors Ranjit Chowdhry, Jaya Prakash Reddy, Shyam Sundar Kalani, Imtiaz Khan, Sachin Kumar, Tejas D Parvatkar; lyricists Yogesh Gaur and Anwar Sagar, action director Parvez Khan, actresses Zarina Khan and Leena Acharya, First Blood star Brian Dennehy, animator Gene Deitch, supermodel Stella Tennant, actors Fred Willard, Derek Fowlds, Logan Williams, Forrest Compton, Lee Fierro and Jeremy Bulloch; TV host Grant Imahara, DJ Erick Morillo, guitarists Peter Green and Jack Sherman, director Alan Parker.