By Jyothi Venkatesh
Veteran film-maker Abdul Gaffar Nadiadwala died early Monday morning due to cardiac arrest, his son and producer Firoz Nadiadwala said. He was 91. Abdul Gaffar Nadiadwala passed away at 1.40 am at Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai. AG Nadiadwala was laid to rest at a Andheri cemetery in the presence of his friends, family members and members from the film fraternity. Jaaved Jaaferi, Ahmed Khan and others at the funeral to pay his last respects to the veteran film producer. “My father Shri Abdul Gaffar Nadiadwala aged 91 years passed away today 22nd August 2022 at 1.40 am due to cardiac arrest at Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai,” Firoz Nadiadwala said in a media statement.
Abdul Gaffar Nadiadwala was known for backing over 50 films including 1965 film ‘Mahabharat’ Dharmendra and Rekha-starrer ‘Jhutha Sach’, ‘Lahoo Ke Do Rang’ and hit comedies in the 2000s such as ‘Hera Pheri’ , ‘Welcome’. Watan Ke Rakhwale, Sone Pe Suhaaga, Shankar Shambhu and Aa Gale Lag Jaa. He had started his film production and media entertainment company in 1953.
Gaffarbhai was also noted for having an intense love for his work and putting his whole heart into every undertaking he was involved with. When Empire Audio Centre first opened, Gaffarbhai and Yusuf Lakdawala were partners in the business. Gaffarbhai – as he was popularly known in the film industry – is survived by his three sons, Feroze, Hafiz and Mushtaque, daughters, and his nephew and well-known film-maker Sajid Nadiadwala.
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Recently, his son producer Mushtaq Nadiadwala had filed a petition, seeking direction from the Indian government to facilitate the safe return of his nine-year-old son and six-year-old daughter from Pakistan. As per a report in PTI, he claimed that his two minor children have been illegally detained by his wife, who too was being held in the neighbouring country, by her influential family.
Since Gaffarbhai was a respected name in the industry, it wasn’t rare for him to be invited to do one or the other muhurt rituals. (Yes, in the good old days, muhurts were performed before a film started, more often than not, in the presence of a lot of invitees.) Sometimes, he used to be invited to crack the auspicious coconut on the first day of shooting, at other times, he used to be asked to sound the clapper-board for the muhurt shot, at still other times, he used to be requested to switch on the camera to mark the taking of the first shot, etc.
Gaffarbhai was so particular about letting his name be attached to a film that he used to painstakingly research (in his own way) whether the producer had the capacity to complete the film. (Yes, at that time, around 15-20% of the films used to remain incomplete due to drying up of funds or differences between the actors and producer/director, or some other reason.)
According to Film Information, a trade weekly, Gaffarbhai was respectfully referred to as ‘Sethji’. The following incident happened one day when producer Gordhan Tanwani who used to be addressed by this title (‘Sethji’), by close friends like Ganesh Jain, Ratan Jain, Dhirubhai Shah, Pravin Shah, Hasmukh Shah, Rumy Jafry, etc was expected to visit the sets. When Amitabh Bachchan heard that Sethji was expected to arrive on the sets, even after completing his work, he kept waiting on the sets. When someone approached him to ask whether he was waiting for something or someone, Amitabh Bachchan replied, “Yes, yes, I heard that Sethji is coming on the set. I’ll greet Gaffarbhai and then leave.”
The respect in Bachchan’s eyes for Gaffarbhai Nadiadwala said it all. It is then that the misunderstanding came to the fore, and the person informed him, “Sir, the Sethji who is arriving on the sets is Gordhan Tanwani, not Gaffarbhai Nadiadwala.” Bachchan had a hearty laugh!