One of the most recognizable personalities and popular actors in Bollywood film industry, Avtar Kishan Hangal, better known by his screen name A.K. Hangal was best remembered playing mostly character roles. Before stepping into the world of acting, A.K. Hangal was a freedom fighter, he was among the many youth who actively participated in the freedom movement against the British. Whilst nothing much is known about this veteran personality before he started his acting career, he made his acting debut as a theater actor.
Born in Peshawar, Pakistan into a Kashmiri Pandit family, Hangal spent most of his childhood and teenage years in Peshawar. The former actor who had interest in acting from an early age performed in several stage shows in Peshawar. Following his father's retirement, his family moved to Karachi and from thereon they moved to Bombay post the partition in 1947. During his early days in theater, he acted alongside another noted thespian Balraj Sahni with the IPTA theatre group.
He worked in the theater industry for about 30 years (from 1936 to 1965), before eventually making his debut in Bollywood in 1966. In his illustrious career in Bollywood, which spanned over 35 years, Hangal starred in more than 225 films. He started his career in Bollywood at the age of 50 with Teesri Kasam (1966) where he played the role of Raj Kapoor's elder brother. His other notable film credits include Bawarchi (1972), Chhupa Rustam (1973), Sholay (1975), Chitchor (1976), Aaina (1977), Judaai (1980), Avtaar (1983), Saagar (1985), Khoon Bhari Maang (1988), Lagaan (2001), Dil Maange More (2004), and Paheli (2005).
Apart from films and theater, A.K. Hangal also worked extensively in the TV industry. Having made his debut with the TV series, Bombay Blue (1977), he subsequently worked in series' like Masterpiece Theatre: Lord Mountbatten -The Last Viceroy (1986), Chandrakanta (1996), Hotel Kingston (2004-05), and Madhubala -Ek Ishq Ek Junoon (2012). For his immense contribution to Hindi cinema, the government of India honored the veteran actor with the coveted Padma Bhushan award in 2006.
The legacy of A.K. Hangal came to an end in August 2012 after he was suffered from various problems including the improper functioning of lungs and respiratory problems.