King of Gujarati comedy Ramesh Mehta, who acted in a number of plays and worked in over 200 films, passed away at his residence in Rajkot on Friday morning after a prolonged illness. He was 78.
His death marks the end of an era in Gujarati cinema.
The versatile comedian was at the peak of his popularity during the golden age of Gujarati cinema in the 1970s and 1980s, commanding a mind-boggling following. His diehard fans would try to imitate many of his popular lines, which he delivered in his inimitable style, in vain. Mehta's pairing with the leading lights of Gujarati cinema like Manjari Desai, Kalpana Dewan, Rajanibala and Meghna Roy was immensely liked by cine-goers.
Indeed, if ever there was any other superstar in Gujarati film industry apart from the irrepressible Upendra Trivedi, it was Mehta. And the duo had worked together in more than 25 silver jubilee hits -- Trivedi as hero and Mehta as his sidekick.
Born in Navagam village near Gondal in Saurashtra, Mehta had acting flowing in his veins as his father Girdharbhai was a popular local artist. As he was more interested in acting and entertainment than studies, he set off for Mumbai very early in his life without completing his formal education. In Mumbai, he joined Indian National Theatre and initially served as a lighting man in several plays.
It did not take Mehta long to get noticed both for his acting and scriptwriting. Though he had already worked in quite a few Gujarati films, including his debut movie Hast Melap, it was from the mega hit Jesal Toral (1971) that Mehta's career really took off.
Mehta had written scripts of a number of successful Gujarati films, including Hast Melap, Jesal Toral, Ghunghat, Raja Bharathari, Hothal Padamani and Valo Namori. He was recipient of many awards, including the Gujarat Gaurav, in and outside the state.
Mehta is survived by sons Kanu and Atul and daughters Kiran and Harsha.