Veteran Hindi and Marathi actor Viju Khote, who feebly mouthed the iconic dialogue “Sardar, maine aapka namak khaya hai” as Kalia to Amjad Khan’s notorious Gabbar in cult classic Sholay, died on Monday. He was 77.
The actor died in his sleep at his residence due to multiple organ failure. “He passed away today at 6.55 am peacefully in his sleep at the residence. He has been unwell for quite some time. He had multiple organ failure,” actor Bhavana Balsavar, his niece, told reporters.
Actor Rishi Kapoor took to Twitter to pay tribute to the actor. “RIP. Viju Khote. Dear friend over the years. Though much elder,we used to bike together along with sister Shobha Khote ji,when I was young. Passionate and well informed about American films. We will miss you” Viju kutte aahe?,” he wrote in his tweet. Ajay Devgn wrote, “Actors like Viju Khote were institutions by themselves. Their large body of work will always be remembered. I’m fortunate to have worked with him on quite a few films. RIP Sir My heartfelt condolences to the family.”
Television and film actor Satish Shah also shared a tweet. “A dear friend and a veteran actor Viju Khoté passed on today. May you rest in eternal peace,” he wrote. Singer Anup Jalota also shared his condolences. “Saddened to hear about the demise of #VijuKhote Ji May his soul rest in peace,” he wrote.
Actor Paresh Rawal also condoled his death and wrote, “An endearing fellow and a generous co actor . AUM SHANTI VIJU JI .”
Boman Irani wrote, “Darling colleague Viju Khote is no more. Hilarious on stage, iconic on screen and a darling of a human being in real life. Such a loving and humble soul. Will miss you Bawa.”
Viju Khote came from a family of artistes. He was the nephew of yesteryear legend Durga Khote from his father, Nandu Khote’s side. His father was also a noted stage actor and worked in silent era films. His elder sister Shubha Khote is another known name in the Indian film industry.
While Durga Khote is credited as one of the first notable female actors in the 1940s, later starring in classics such as Mughal-E-Azam and The Householder, both Viju and Shubha went on to become popular for their impeccable comic timing.
Viju Khote starred in around 300 films in his over five decade-long career in both Hindi and Marathi cinema, such as National Award-winning Marathi film Ventilator (2016), Garam Masala, Pukar, Mela, China Gate, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, among others.