December 28, 2013 2:55 pm

Bollywood actor Farooq Shaikh dies

Farooq Shaikh, pictured in July 2013.

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NEW DELHI – Indian actor Farooq Shaikh, the plump, unlikely hero of scores of Bollywood films, has died. He was 65.

Press Trust of India reported that Shaikh suffered a heart attack Friday in Dubai, where he was visiting with his family.

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Shaikh’s film career began on a high note with the 1973 new wave film Garm Hawa, about the 1947 partition of the subcontinent at the end of British rule. His performance earned him a key role in director Satyajit Ray’s The Chess Players, about the decadence of India’s feudal classes.

Shaikh’s cherubic looks struck a chord with ordinary people who tended to identify with his man on the street image.

Bollywood reacted sadly to the news of Shaikh’s death, with several celebrities tweeting their condolences.

Noted Indian actress Shabana Azmi, who described herself as a close friend, said she was still trying to come to terms with Shaikh’s death.

“Forty years ago, he and I started a theatre group. It was a very long association, so it’s difficult to speak about his death,” Azmi tweeted.

Azmi and Shaikh appeared together in more than 300 performances of the play Tumhari Amrita.

Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan tweeted: “A true gentleman, a wonderful colleague! A quiet honesty about him. Very, very sad.”

Shaikh was active in Mumbai’s theatre scene, and acted in a Hindi version of the satirical British comedy Yes Minister on Indian television. He also produced a popular TV show on which he interviewed Hindi film stars.

Shaikh is survived by his wife and two daughters.

© The Associated Press, 2013

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