- Ravi Shankar in Los Angeles, 1967.
It wasn’t a good year for the Hindi film industry, with many of Bollywood’s legendary figures passing away in 2012, including Yash Chopra and Rajesh Khanna.
Sitar maestro Ravi Shankar also died this year. He will be remembered as India’s most famous musician internationally.
Here are some of the notable people who died this year to whom India paid tribute to.
Homai Vyarawalla. With her camera, Ms. Vyarawalla documented key moments of her country’s path to independence from British rule. India’s first female photojournalist, she continued to capture India after 1947, until she retired in 1970. She was 98 when she died, in January.
Dara Singh. The wrestler-turned-Bollywood action hero will be remembered above all for his role as Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god, on the television adaptation of the “Ramayan,” the Hindu epic. Mr. Singh died in Mumbai in July. He was 84.
Vilasrao Deshmukh. A senior politician with the ruling Congress party, Mr. Deshmukh was India’s minister of science and technology when he died in August. He was 67. Mr. Deshmukh will be remembered for his time as chief minister of Mumbai’s state of Maharashtra, a position he held between 1999 and 2008. He resigned from that post after the 26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai that killed over 160 people.
Rajesh Khanna. He was the original romantic hero, Bollywood’s first true superstar. The film that first shot him to fame was “Aradhana” (Worship), a 1969 romantic drama. Later films – like “Haati Mere Saathi” (1971) “Bawarchi” (1972) – escalated him to stardom. He died in July at the age of 69.
Verghese Kurien. The father of the “Amul” brand of dairy products, Mr. Kurien is the man responsible for turning India into the world’s largest milk producer. As the founder of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd., he has been credited for pioneering a cooperative model of agricultural production that helped farmers. He died in September at the age of 90.
Yash Chopra. “Goodbye to a great man who taught us how to dance, dream, love and live,” we wrote in this obit of legendary Bollywood film director Yash Chopra. Affectionately known as the “King of Romance,” Mr. Chopra’s latest film – Shah Rukh Khan starrer “Jab Tak Hai Jaan” – came out in November, less than a month after his death. He was 80.
Jaspal Bhatti. Punjabi comedian Jaspal Bhatti was best-known for television shows like “Ulta Pulta” and “Flop Show.” He died in a car crash in October, during a promotional tour for his latest film, “Power Cut.” He was 57.
Bal Thackeray. The founder of the Hindu hard-live Shiv Sena party, Mr. Thackeray was hugely influential in Mumbai, where over 100,000 turned up for his funeral in November. He will be remembered for his divisive politics, which promoted the rights of local Hindus over Muslims and immigrants from outside Mumbai’s Maharashtra state.
Inder Kumar Gujral. Mr. Gujral served as prime minister of India for an 11-month period in 1997. He has been credited for improving relations with neighboring countries, including historical rival Pakistan. He died after a prolonged illness in November. He was 92.
Ravi Shankar. The sitar maestro – hailed as a cultural ambassador for his country – did more than anyone else to broaden the appeal of Indian classical music in the rest of the world. Known for his collaborations across musical genres with people ranging from George Harrisonof the Beatles to John Coltrane, Mr. Shankar died in California on Dec. 11 at the age of 92.