Another year has passed but unlike every year, 2020 has nothing substantial to be remembered for for any good reason. Rather, it may be recorded as one of the worst years in the history of human civilisation. We all started the year on a positive note but the ominous signs were there already in December 2019 with the advent of Covid-19 in Europe. These signs materialised into dark clouds of pessimism by the month of March here in Asia.
The pandemic displaced everything, from offline classes to virtual classes, from crowded roads to deserted ones, from office to work-from-home, and everything was like a makeshift. The months passed simply by following the guidelines of lockdown 1, 2, 3, followed by unlock 1, 2, 3. I am surprised that if the first lockdown worked why did we have the second lockdown, and if the first lockdown didn’t work why still did we have the second lockdown! I rest this case with you to decide.
Year 2020 made us orphans in many respects. We lost some great personalities of the world that we looked up to. On a personal note, I wish they should have lived a little more; we all needed them in our different areas of life. The great personalities that departed to the heavenly abode were from different fields of life. They were from the film industry, from politics, from literature, from sports. Let us remember some of the great personalities who passed away in the deathly year 2020.
Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan, known professionally as Irfan Khan or simply Irfan, was an Indian actor who worked in Hindi cinema as well as British and American films. He was famous for his dialogue delivery. He died on 29th April due to prolonged cancer.
Rishi Kapoor, a veteran actor of Bollywood, shot to fame with the film Bobby. In the nineties, he brought the harsh reality of the middle class at the forefront with a movie like Bade Ghar Ki Bahu. However, it is his romantic roles that still echo in our minds. He featured in a number of memorable films – Dewaana, Chandni, Mera Naam Joker, Amar Akbar Anthony, Karz, Agneepath, Sargam, Prem Rog, Henna, Laila Majnu, to a name a few. He breathed his last on 30th April.
Chuni Goswami: As if the shock at the demise of Rishi Kapoor was not enough, we received on the same day another terrible news, of Chuni Goswami’s death. He had captained the Indian football team. He died aged 82.
Mohit Baghel: He co-starred with Salman in the film Ready. He died of cancer and was too young to die. Such flowers should have bloomed. He died on 23th May at the age of 28.
Wajid Khan: If you are a fan of music then this name would not be new to you. The Sajid-Wajid duo gave us superb songs in films like Dabangg, Tere Naina being one of the best ones. He left for the heavenly abode on 1st June.
Chiranjeevi Sarja: He was a film actor in Kannada films. Hailing from a family of actors, Sarja acted in more than 20 films in a career spanning 11 years. He died on 7th June.
Sushant Singh Rajput: It was shocking to know that someone who had conveyed the message that suicide was not the answer to failures in life in his film Chhichorey ended up taking his own life. We lost a great talent. He gave us super-hit films like Dhoni. He is believed to have committed suicide on 14th June.
Saroj Khan: Dancing reached its pinnacle in Hindi films because of Saroj Khan. She choreographed songs with many legendary actresses like Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla, Sridevi, Aishwarya Rai. On 3rd of July she left this world. She was 71 years old.
Jagdeep: This legendary actor is still alive in the minds of the people for his eccentric dialogue delivery as Soorma Bhopali. His son Javed Jafri also went on to become a popular comic actor in the Bollywood industry. He died on 8th July aged 81.
Rahat Indori: 11th August will be treated as a dark day by Urdu poetry lovers. Rahat Indori’s style of reciting poetry was unique. He infused a new zeal in the young generation to learn Urdu. He sort of revived the dying tradition of mushairas in India.
Chetan Chauhan: Sunil Gavaskar’s long-time opening partner, Chetan Chauhan died on 16th August.
Pranab Mukherjee: One of the most illustrious political leaders and the 13th President of India died on 31st August.
S.P. Balasubhramanyam: I personally had a lot of liking for him since my childhood. I remember that he sang for Salman Khan in films like Maine Pyaar Kiya, Saajan, etc. This great human being gave us songs like Pehla pehla pyaar hai and Bahut pyaar karte hain tumko sanam. This gentleman left for the heavenly abode on 25th Sept.
Jaswant Singh: His political career had many upheavals. He was known for his courage and straightforwardness, which probably was one of the reasons why he had a difficult political career. He died on 27th Sept.
Ram Vilas Paswan: One of the most popular leaders in Bihar, he held many portfolios in the central government as well. He was one of the most respected leaders in the eyes of people. He passed away on 8th October.
Shams-ur Rahman Farooqi: You may know that 25th December is the birthday of many great personalities. However, on this date, the torch bearer of Urdu literature, in poetry, criticism, prose, scholarship, left us to be in heaven. With his departure, the vacuum left may never be filled. His contribution to Urdu literature is simply immeasurable.
Abdul Rahim Wani: It would be unfair on my part if I do not mention Janab Abdul Rahim Wani. He was a great Sufi saint and a man of letters. His contribution as editor of Brighter Kashmir cannot simply be described. His philanthropic service to humanity will be remembered for ages together. He devoted all his life for the sake of humanity and devotion to the righteous path of Allah. This pious soul left us in shock with his departure on 25th August. It is fit to mention that he was the father of Mr Farooq Ahmad Wani, editor of Brighter Kashmir.
I may not have included all the great personalities that left or departed from us in this year because of limitations of memory. But I would like to remind that the year 2020 was no good to Kashmiris as well. The killing spree continues here, the latest being the Hokarsar encounter where three innocent boys are said to have been killed. According to estimates, nearly 200 young rebels were killed in various gunfights in Kashmir this year. Every second day we hear the news that so-and-so has been killed, ‘eliminated’, ‘neutralised’. Kashmir has become an orphan and no one is willing to adopt it.
—The writer is a research scholar. [email protected]