As recently as late August, Ank Productions, which Dinesh Thakur and wife Preeta had staged Ravindranjali, which brought alive the magic
of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s songs on stage with an artistic expression of some of the legend’s most beautiful creations, through music, drama and dance. Ank was close to the theatre and cinema veteran’s heart till the end. His oldest and still popular theatre production is Jis Lahore Nahi Dekhya.
In the 1970s, he was known for his character roles in films like Mere Apne, Rajanigandha and Ghar. The Basu Chatterjee made Rajnigandha (1974), went on to win Filmfare Best Movie Award and the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie.
Also known as a respected screenwriter and story writer, his story and screenplay for Ghar (1978) saw him bag the 1979 Filmfare Award in the Best Story Category.
Four contemporaries from cinema and theatre reflect on this immeasurable loss:
Rahul daCunha: Dinesh was a true doyen of Hindi theatre. A pioneer in his field, he went ahead and creditably made a living from it when no one else dared to.
Amol Palekar: Though we worked with each other in Rajnigandha, we shared a bond before that. Both of us played the same character in the play Adhe Adhure, in two different productions, his was directed by Om Shivpuri, whereas I acted in the one directed by Satyadev Dubey. Another funny thing about the movie was that he being from Delhi, all his scenes were shot in Mumbai, and all my scenes were shot in Delhi. We all eventually had a reunion at the after party, at producer Suresh Jindal’s residence. Since the movie, we have shared a close friendship. Even when I learnt of his illness, I rushed to Mumbai but he was already in ICU.
Salim Arif: Dinesh Thakur was like family to me. My wife Lubna has also worked with him. I designed the costumes for his famous play, Jis Lahore Nahi Dekhya. That was nearly 10 to 12 years ago. He was very fond of all of us. With his demise, theatre has lost a very important soldier. He was committed to theatre for three decades. Though he initially did a few films, he made a conscious choice to be in theatre and devote his life to theatre, which I believe is remarkable. Many young and talented actors have worked with him. What many people don’t know about him is that he was also a very good teacher. He trained several artists too. Dineshji has been one of the people responsible for creating a space for Hindi theatre in a city like Mumbai.
Shabana Azmi: It’s a big loss to the theatre world. Ank (Thakur’s theatre group) has established themselves as serious players on the theatre scene. He was ailing for sometime but fought back and would come to all important theatre events in his immaculately starched kurtas. We mourn his loss and condolences to the family.
— Compiled by Surekha S and Dhara Vora