A well known name in films, theatre and television, Ranjit Chowdhry passed away in Mumbai on Wednesday April 15th 2020. According to sources, he was suffering from an ailment for several months and was admitted to the hospital for surgery. Unfortunately, he didn’t survive the procedure.
Ranjit was born and brought up in Mumbai. His mother was well known theatre personality Pearl Padamsee and his stepfather Alyque Padamsee, was a theater actor, director and headed one of the largest advertising companies at the time. Ranjit Chowdhry followed in his parents footsteps and excelled as an actor. He performed in plays and appeared in several Bollywood and Hollywood films. In India, he was cast in many prestigious film projects as Basu Chatterjee’s ‘Baton Baton Mein’ (1979) and Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Khubsoorat (1980).
He moved to USA in the early 80’s and bagged several international projects like Deepa Mehta’s ‘Sam & Me’ which he not only acted in, but also wrote. His big break as a solo lead came in NY based producer Tirlok Malik’s trendsetting movie about the immigrant experience, ‘Lonely In America’ (1990) directed by Barry Alexander Brown. Speaking on Ranjit’s passing, Malik said, “I’m extremely shocked and sad. He was a great person who made everyone laugh on set. I had the privilege of working with him on two films, ‘Lonely’ & ‘On Golden Years’. He was a dear friend who would also frequent my restaurant in New York City. His favorite dish was ‘Kheer’ (Rice pudding) and would always have it packed to go. He would fondly call me ‘Malko’ and was one of the most professional people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.” Malik also shared a very special memory that many might not know, “My ‘Lonely In America’ director Barry Brown was approached to edit ‘Truth or Dare’ for Madonna. He sent her a screener of my film as a reference of his work. Later that year, Madonna bumped into Ranjit at Cannes and gave him a kiss on the cheek. That’s how much she loved his work. Ranjit always said, “thanks to you I got a kiss from Madonna””.
Ranjit Chowdhry was a great artist who paved the way for other South Asian actors to follow in his footsteps. Apart from working with celebrated filmmakers like Mira Nair (Mississippi Masala), Deepa Mehta (Fire & Bollywood Hollywood) and Shekhar Kapur (Bandit Queen), Ranjit also appeared on tv in ‘The Office’ and ‘Prison Break’. We at AVS had the pleasure of interacting with him several times over the years. During each and every meeting, he left us admiring his sense of humor, humility and genuine talent. He will be missed by one and all.