On Monday morning ,ace-photographer Jagdish Mali lost his battle with life and breathed his last at the Lilavati hospital. He was only 59.
During the time of his death only close family and a few members of the film fraternity were visible. “In fact,” smirks a close friend of the family, “The only people we spotted from the film industry at the hospital were filmmaker Ashoke Pandit and actress Sharbani Mukherjee (Kajol‘s cousin). Jagdish had spent a large part of his life beautifying so many actresses from Rekha to Dimple Kapadia to Madhuri Dixit for the camera lenses. Where were they?”
Ashoke Pandit who has been a steady and supportive friend to the ailing photographer defended the thin attendance at the hospital. “Not too many knew of Jagdish’s condition. On May 1, he slipped in the bathroom and broke his hip. We rushed him to hospital where the damage was taken care of. But Jagdish’s old liver condition showed up. He died of multiple-organ failure.”
In January, Jagdish Mali was in the news for being discovered by starlet Mink Brar, allegedly roaming disoriented and disheveled on the streets of Mumbai. Aspersions were cast on Jagdish’s daughter actress Antara Mali’s duties as a daughter.
But when I spoke to Jagdish during the controversy he had vehemently denied being in any physical or emotional crisis. He said, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with me. I don’t know why this controversy about my health was started, and by whom. Log to kuch bhi likh dete hain. I am a technician and an artiste. I’ve been part of the film industry for decades. Never before have I felt so embarrassed. Antara is a fine daughter.”
Recalling the sordid incident, Ashoke Pandit says, “Jagdish was faqir by heart. He had no need for any material comforts. He helped anyone who came to him. Yes, he did have drinking problem earlier during his life. But he had stopped drinking completely in recent times. This is no age to die.”