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Sameer Khakhar, Khopdi from ‘Nukkad’, dies at 71

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MUMBAI: Actor Sameer Khakhar, best known for playing the lovable drunk Khopdi in the classic 1980s TV serial “Nukkad”, died at a hospital here in the early hours of Wednesday due to multiple organ failure.

File Photo (Actor Sameer Khakhar)

The actor, who was most recently seen in the Prime Video series “Farzi” and moved to the US in the 1990s for a few years to become a software developer, was 71.

Sameer Khakhar was admitted to MM Hospital in Borivali in suburban Mumbai on Tuesday morning following respiratory issues, his younger brother Ganesh Khakhar told PTI.

“He had respiratory problems since yesterday and later became unconscious. We called the doctor at home and were asked to hospitalise him. He was admitted to the intensive care unit of MM Hospital,” he said.

“Slowly and gradually, he suffered multiple organ failure. He was unconscious and then he collapsed. He passed away at 4.30 am today,” Ganesh Khakhar added.

The last rites were conducted at a Borivali crematorium in the presence of his family and some friends from Sameer Khakhar days in Gujarati theatre.

He is survived by his wife.

Sameer Khakhar’s notable works include TV show “Circus”, “Shrimaan Shrimati” and films such as “Parinda”, Salman Khan-starrer “Jai Ho”, Sidharth Malhotra and Parineeti Chopra’s “Hasee Toh Phasee”, Sudhir Mishra-directed “Serious Men”, and Vikas Bahl’s web series “Sunflower”.

Filmmaker Hansal Mehta thanked Sameer Khakhar for the memories of Khopdi.

“For some reason I was nicknamed Khopdi in college after his iconic character in Nukkad. My closest friends from the time still call me Khopdi. But I guess it’s time to say goodbye to the OG. Goodbye Sameer Khakhar. Thank you for the memories,” Mehta captioned a series of the late actor’s photos on Twitter.

“Khopdi has left this Circus and gone to the Nukkad in the sky,” wrote director Nila Madhab Panda on the microblogging site.

“Good bye Sameer Khakhar, thank you for all those wonderful memories, your characters will always stay with us. Om Shanti,” he added.

Sameer Khakhar hit the headlines in early 2021 after a tweet from a film journalist, informing industry people that the actor was looking for work, caught the attention of industry colleagues such as Satish Shah and Gulshan Devaiah.

“Everybody is looking for work and so am I. And by looking for work I mean approaching and applying for a job. In the case of actors, it is a daily exercise with every film or show. But I am a bad salesman,” the actor told PTI in January 2021.

“I am hopeful people who know me will offer me work. I would like to work till my last breath. I want to entertain people all my life, I am not tired yet,” he added,

His claim to fame may have been playing the inebriated Khopdi in Kundan Shah and Saeed Akhtar Mirza’s “Nukkad”, but the actor didn’t like being stereotyped.

“I said no to a lot of films because I didn’t want to do anything similar every time… Change is a constant, you have to adapt to it. You can’t be rigid saying I will only do films or TV or only this kind of a role,” he said about his decision to move to the US in the 1990s where he enrolled in a computer software course and worked at a company as Java developer till recession hit in 2008.

In the same interview, Sameer Khakhar recalled how he bagged the role of Khopdi in a chance meeting with Shah and Mirza.

“They (makers) thought this character could be utilised in the serial (more) and the number of episodes kept increasing. What interested me about this role was that he was a drunkard but rational.

“We all worked in creating this role. Saeed sahab told me Khopdi is a lost man in the city and is innocent. That sentence triggered a lot of things in me. I didn’t sleep for a few days, trying to understand the mindset of the character,” he said.

The actor most recently starred in Shahid Kapoor and Vijay Sethupathi-led Prime Video series “Farzi”, playing the role of a foul-mouthed elderly person named Illyas.

Filmmaker duo Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, who created and directed the series, paid a tribute to Sameer Khakhar on their Instagram Stories.

They shared a photo of the actor from the show and wrote, “Sameer Khakhar (1952-2023).

Actor Bhuvan Arora, who also starred in “Farzi”, wrote on his Instagram Stories, “To watching you in ‘nukkad’ as a kid to finally working with you… Rest in peace Sameer sir.”

Actor Gulshan Devaiah shared a photo of the veteran and tweeted, “Sameer Khakhar: 1952-2023 Goodbye sir #RIP”

The official Twitter handle of Cine & TV Artistes’ Association (CINTAA) also condoled Sameer Khakhar’s demise.

“CINTAA expresses its condolences on the demise of Shri Sameer Khakhar (Member since 1986),” the trade organisation posted. (PTI)

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