Nirmal Pandey: Versatile Indian stage and screen actor

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Nirmal Pandey was a multi-faceted stage and film actor famous for his roles in critically acclaimed and award-winning movies such as Bandit Queen, Godmother, Iss Raat Ki Subah Nahin and Daayraa. He was selective about his roles, preferring to play parts based on the lives of the socially disadvantaged. Pandey was born into a humble family on the beautiful hill station of Nainital in the northern state of Uttarakhand in 1962. He loved acting and music and won a music fellowship to the National School of Drama in Delhi.

In 1991, he was selected by the British High Commission for a training programme in England and staged three plays in London directed by Jatinder Verma. The director Shekhar Kapur gave him his break in the 1994 film Bandit Queen in which he played gang leader, Vikram Mallah. In 1996 came the thriller Iss Raat Ki Subah Nahin (No End to This Night), directed by Sudhir Mishra, in which he was outstanding as a man on the run from the Mumbai underworld. The same year he made Amol Palekar's Daayraa (The Circle) and cemented his place in Bollywood with his award-winning portrayal of a transvestite.

His last two films were Lahore, directed by Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan, in which he played a soft-hearted Pakistani – "a very meaty and powerful role" he said – and Kiran Kumar's Kedi, as a bad guy.

Pandey, who died at the age of 48 following a heart attack, married Archana Sharma, principal of the City Montessori School in Lucknow, in 2005. She and her two children survive him.

Haresh Pandya

Nirmal Pandey, actor, director and singer: born Nainital, Uttarakhand 1962; married 2005 Archana Sharma (two stepchildren); died 18 February 2010.