Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sanjeev Kumar: Great Actors who died too young


The recent untimely death of Philip Seymour Hoffman at age 46, reminded me of the other tragic and equally untimely death of Sanjeev Kumar at age 47, one of the best actors that India, or really the world, has ever produced. While Hoffman's death was due to a personal and cultural failing, Sanjeev Kumar was born with a heart problem. Both deeply saddening, even if for completely different reasons. 

I've enjoyed great, intense performances from both and though I'd personally rate Sanjeev Kumar as a more versatile actor specially for his unique comedic ability, I've greatly enjoyed Hoffman's immersive acting. Both have left lasting influences and an army of fans and their deaths will be grieved for a long time to come. 

Both started their acting careers in their 20s and within the 25-years they got to play their parts, both left indelible mark on the silver screen. Both were highly influential and respectable even though neither fit the physical profile of a movie star. Both a bit overweight, played unglamorous, villainous roles and offered great variety and passion in their performance. While Hoffman won an Oscar for Capote (and was nominated for several others), Sanjeev Kumar won major Indian awards including The National awards for Dastak and Koshish and several Filmfare awards.

Another odd trivia - one of Sanjeev Kumar's first roles was in an Arthur Miller play, All my sons and one of Hoffman's last roles was in another Arthur Miller play, The Death of a Salesman.  

Both left behind an incredibly rich body of work. Here are some of my favorites from their careers.

Top 5 Philip Seymour Hoffman films

  • Capote
  • Charlie Wilson's War
  • Doubt
  • The Savages
  • Before the Devil Knows you are Dead

Top 5 Sanjeev Kumar films

  • Trishul
  • Sholay
  • Angoor
  • Devata
  • Aandhi