The comedy star Robin Williams is dead. Good actors are like good politicians. You feel a deep sense of loss when they die. Back in the early 1980s, when Uttam Kumar died suddenly, a sense of disbelief descended on all of us. It was much the same when, a few years later, Richard Burton passed away. There was a powerful actor in the Welshman. And his pronunciation, with every syllable coming out clearly, remains unmatched.
And then there was Gregory Peck, with that tall figure and deep, resonant voice you wished you possessed. His death was a deep loss. Then again, when great thespians die, it is their personality, their acting prowess you miss. There was a superb actor in George C. Scott. We who have watched the movie Patton will never forget the ease with which the actor lost himself and became the World War Two general. Or think of men like Kirk Douglas. We have not had any replacement for him so far. Some actors, you know, are simply irreplaceable.
And Peter Sellers? Now, here was an actor who was part of our lives, indeed part of the family, as he went on with all that buffoonery in the Pink Panther series. In our subcontinental ambience, the passing of Raj Kumar, DevAnand, Rajendra Kumar, Bharat Bhushan and Raj Kapoor left a big void in the world of movies. Earlier, the death of the very able and promising Sanjeev Kumar broke our hearts, for he still had a whole lot to give us through his artistry. Now think of all the good women artistes who have passed on. Meena Kumar and Madhubala are today legends in the memory, for they were not only beautiful but also powerful actresses in their time. That they died relatively young, within a few years of each other, continues to give us pain every time we have cause to remember them. The sensuous Nutan is another artiste you remember. There was a suave quality she brought to her work.
In Pakistan, Mohammad Ali and WaheedMurad are missed. In Bangladesh, Altaf,Rahman and Azim do not happen to be there any more, reminding us that with their passing has also passed an era of quality performance in cinema.Sultana Zaman and Rosy Samad have passed into the ages. Italy's Marcello Mastroianni and America's Rock Hudson were our heroes once. And they still are. We have not forgotten John Wayne, that True Grit symbol of masculinity. We miss the coruscating beauty of Audrey Hepburn and the soft passion of Suchitra Sen.
Robin Williams' passing leaves us all poorer than we were yesterday.
The writer is Executive Editor, The Daily Star