Sadashiv Amrapurkar was Bollywood’s regular bad guy. He did not have Mogambo or Shakaal’s ostentatious lair, nor was he overly dramatic like Amjad Khan, Shakti Kapoor and Paresh Rawal. Heck, he did not even look evil – a short, slightly portly, average-looking man with a squeaky voice – but he came into the industry when evil was thriving in the form of corruption, unemployment and government lockdown. When he debuted as a firebrand character actor in Govind Nihalani’s Ardh Satya (1984), India was going through economic and political tumult.
Amrapurkar is aruguably one of the first ‘grey’ villains in mainstream cinema. Born as Ganesh Kumar Narwode, he adopted the stage name Sadashiv Amrapurkar in 1974, and made a mark in regional Marathi theatre. On screen, he is remembered more for being a memorable antagonist than for his comic roles. As the villain, the reasons behind his actions were not megalomania or a thirst for power. They were mostly driven by compulsion, revenge or hatred.
After a fantastic debut, he came back with a bang as Deen Bandhu Dina Nath, the conniving businessman, of Anil Sharma’s Hukumat (1987). A memorable performance for film buffs, Hukumat became the highest grossing film of the year and made Amrapurkar a popular face – that people loved to hate.
Soon, he stunned the industry with his portrayal of a ruthless eunuch in Sadak (1991). Amrapurkar became Maharani, a transgender brothel owner who ran her business and made life a living hell for the film’s protagonists. He won the Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Negative Role for the film – the first time the award was instituted.
In the 1990s, he was sought after as the primary antagonist for many films, and his stellar performances are remembered in Ishq, Aankhen, Hum Saath Saath Hain and Gupt, to name a few. Bollywood stalwarts have expressed their heartfelt condolences on Twitter and Facebook:
Amitabh Bachchan – Waking up in Kolkata to the sad news of the passing away of Sadashiv Amrapurkar… a colleague and a gifted talent… prayers !!
Anupam Kher – I am so saddened to know about the demise of a fine human being & a wonderful actor Sadashiv Amrapurkar. He was a kind & a learned man. RIP
Kunal Kohli – #SadashivAmrapurkar‘s portrayal of #Maharani in #Sadak rates as one of the best by a villain ever in Hindi cinema RIP
Madhur Bhandarkar – Saddened to hear about the demise of #SadashivAmrapurkar. I had the privilege of working with him in my debut film Trishakti…