He was the actor par excellence we loved during our school days. What we did not know, in those days of ignorance, of movie apartheid, and no Internet was that he was a British actor. Saeed Jaffrey was versatile. Just look at the myriad media that he appeared on: radio, stage, television and films! He was just brilliant.
In 1995, he was awarded honorary Commander of the British Empire, the first Asian to get this. In 1998, he wrote, Saeed: An Actor’s Journey, the autobiography of his meteoric rise from Punjab, then under the British Raj, to becoming a high-profile Asian actor in Britain. That’s what you call bearding the lion in its den.
A double post-graduate, he studied in the US, worked with Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan, and starred in movies directed by Satyajit Ray and Richard Attenborough. He also, for a brief period, worked as Radio Director for All India Radio.
His films include The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977), Gandhi (1982),
A Passage to India (1984), and The Far Pavilions (1984), He has also appeared in many Bollywood films in the 1980s and 1990s. His portrayal of Sardar Patel in
Gandhi was simply awe-inspiring.
In his death, at the age of 86, India has lost a character actor of consummate skill.