The Indian theatre, film and television world on Thursday morning woke up to the news of the untimely demise of veteran actress Reema Lagoo, one of Bollywood’s favourite on-screen mothers. The industry’s love for her talent and her warm-hearted nature was evident in the outpouring of tributes over social media and during her last rites.
Reema died following a cardiac arrest early on Thursday morning, a family source said. She was 59 and breathed her last at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, in Andheri west, where she was rushed shortly after midnight.
Her cremation took place here on Thursday afternoon in the presence of her family members as well as celebrities like Rishi Kapoor, Kajol, Tanvi Azmi, Shreyas Talpade, Rakesh Bedi, Raza Murad, Anang Desai, Sulabha Arya and Ashoke Pandit.
Before the last rites, actor Aamir Khan and his wife Kiran Rao, besides filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, visited Reema’s house.
Aamir said on an emotional note: “We are all in shock. She had no problems that we knew of. It happened suddenly and is saddening. My first film was with Reema ji — ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’. She was a fabulous actor and her heart was so clean. She was also very socially conscious. We only pray that she rests in peace.”
Reema was in action till Wednesday night on the set of TV show “Naamkaran”, in which she played antagonist Dayawanti.
“Reema ji wanted to leave early from the set yesterday due to a throat infection. She usually used to come in to the set at 9 a.m. everyday, but she had said she would come in a little late today (Thursday) around 11 a.m. because she wanted to get herself checked,” a source from the show’s unit told IANS.
Too sudden, too soon — that’s how her colleagues, juniors and associates received the news of Reema’s death.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, among other politicians, paid tribute to the veteran talent, who was closely associated with Hindi and Marathi showbiz.
Modi, via a tweet, described her as a versatile actor who left a big impact in the film and TV world, while Sonia Gandhi called her a “household name who portrayed an array of heart-warming characters on screen”.
Celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit Nene, Mahesh Bhatt, Akshay Kumar, Karan Johar, Renuka Shahane, Ashutosh Gowariker, Rishi Kapoor and Dia Mirza penned heartfelt social media posts in remembrance of the talent, whom they said they will remember for her warmth, radiance and versatility.
Sanjay Dutt said in a statement: “It is deeply saddening to hear of the demise of Reemaji. I have such great memories with her, especially during the shoot of ‘Vaastav’. One of the best talents that we had.”
Noted for her roles in Hindi movies like “Rangeela”, “Maine Pyar Kiya”, “Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!”, “Aashiqui”, “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai”, “Hum Saath Saath Hain”, “Vastaav”, “Saajan”, “Kal Ho Na Ho”, Reema became synonymous as Bollywood’s quintessional ‘Maa’ — a middle-aged, modern, but understanding mother. She played on-screen mother to actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Kajol and more.
“You will always be loved and remembered in the best ways with your wonderful smile,” tweeted Kajol, who played her daughter in “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai”.
Starting her career as a schoolgirl in Pune, Reema soon graduated to larger roles on Marathi stage and films.
On television, the actress was seen in prominent roles in “Khandaan”, “Shrimaan Shrimati”, “Tu Tu, Main Main,” “Do Aur Do Paanch”, and the ongoing serial on “Naamkaran”. In Marathi, she gave notable stage performances in “Ghar Tighanche Have”, “Chal Aatap Lavkar”, “Jhale Mokle Aakash”, “To Ek Kshann”, “Purush Buland” and “Vitho Rakhumai”.
For Marathi showbiz, Reema was ‘Reema tai’. Actress Usha Jadhav said she will be missed, while Renuka Shahane, who famously played her daughter in Hindi movie “Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!”, wrote a long and emotional Facebook post on Reema’s inner and outer beauty.
Divorced from her former husband and actor Vivek Lagoo, she is survived by her daughter, Mrunmayee Lagoo, 35, who is a film and stage actress and theatre director.