Many celebrities passed away after battling long-term illnesses.

A collage of Chadwick Boseman Saroj Khan Irrfan Khan SPB and Sushant Singh Rajput
Flix 2020 Year-Ender Thursday, December 24, 2020 - 16:52

April 29 this year was a painful day as Indians and movie buffs across the globe woke up to the news that Irrfan Khan, one of the most promising actors of Indian and international cinema, passed away. Since then, cinema across the world has lost some of its celebrated actors, musicians and filmmakers — Rishi Kapoor, Chadwick Boseman, SP Balasubrahmanyam (SPB), Sushant Singh Rajput and Nishikant Kamat, among others.

All these losses added to the trepidation of the COVID-19 pandemic that the world is still reeling under. Many passed away after battling long-term illnesses. Here is a list of celebrities who passed away in 2020.

Irrfan Khan

The 53-year-old The Lunchbox actor was making a mark across the globe with his phenomenal acting when he succumbed to a colon infection on April 29, 2020. Irrfan, who has acted in films like Qarib Qarib SingllePaan Singh Tomar and Piku, was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour in 2018. After initial improvement, his health took a beating again around February 2020.

WATCH: Irrfan’s heartwarming message to his fans during the promo of his last film, Angrezi Medium

In April, three days after attending his mother’s funeral via video conference, Irrfan was admitted to a hospital in Mumbai for colon infection. The Padma Shri awardee died the following day. Some of his international movies include Life of Pi, The Namesake, Jurassic World and The Amazing Spider-man.


A prolific actor, gone too soon: India mourns death of Irrfan Khan

Remembering Irrfan: The hero, the joker, the villain

Remembering Mr Fernandes: Why 'The Lunchbox' needed the genius of Irrfan Khan

Rishi Kapoor

Bollywood lost its iconic romance hero Rishi Kapoor to cancer on April 30, a day after Irrfan Khan passed away. The late actor was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2018 and subsequently underwent treatment in the US till 2019. The 67-year-old was admitted in the hospital on April 29 due to breathing difficulties.

He was set to reprise the role of Robert De Niro in the Indian remake of The Intern, along with Deepika Padukone. Hitesh Bhatia’s Sharmaji Namkeen, alongside Juhi Chawla, will see a posthumous release.

WATCH: Rishi Kapoor as child star actor in Mera Naam Joker (1970)

Sushant Singh Rajput

It took a while or days for people across India to come to terms with Sushant Singh Rajput’s untimely death. The 34-year-old actor was found dead in his room at his apartment in Mumbai. While he allegedly died by suicide, the case is still under investigation. His death was fraught with controversies and an ugly spat involving his family, friends, colleagues and the media.

After debuting on the small screen with Ekta Kapoor’s series Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil and Pavitra Rishta, Sushant got his major break with Kai Po Che! (2013). His last movie, Dil Bechara saw a posthumous release on Disney+Hotstar after being delayed by the pandemic.

WATCH: Sushant Singh follows Dhoni for the movie MS Dhoni, The Untold Story

Chadwick Boseman

“Wakanda Forever” echoed across social media platforms when the world learnt about Chadwick Boseman’s death. The Black Panther actor was diagnosed with stage three of colon cancer in 2016. Boseman continued acting in a raft of movies until the illness progressed into stage four in 2020. The 42 actor eventually passed away due to complications on August 28 in his house with his family by his side.

Fans shared a series of memorable videos of the actor; fans of all ages held their own sweet version of memorial service with the famous ‘Wakanda Forever’ salute (arms crossed over the chest).

READ: When 'Black Panther' Chadwick Boseman surprised fans, and other memorable videos

WATCH: Chadwick Boseman tribute video by Marvel Studios

SP Balasubrahmanyam or SPB

The entire music industry in India and fans across the world prayed in unison when legendary singer SP Balasubrahmanyam or SPB was battling for his life. The singer was admitted to the hospital in Chennai on August 5 with mild symptoms of COVID-19. On August 13, his condition took a turn for the worse and was put on life support. He succumbed to COVID-19 on September 25.

In a career spanning over 50 years, SPB sang around 40,000 songs in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Kannada and Malayalam. He received the Padma Shri (2001) Padma Bhushan in (2011) and even set the Guinness record for recording most songs in a single day. His last song was for Rajinikanth in his upcoming film Annaatthe.


'SPB gave his all until the end': Doctor who treated singer writes tribute

‘Keladi Kanmani’: When SPB and Radikaa brought to life an unforgettable romance

The magic of SPB lay in his profound musical mind, writes TM Krishna

SPB and his jokes: What singers Chithra, Sujatha and Yesudas said

SPB's heart of gold: Two instances when the singer's generosity was caught on camera

Why SPB is special to everyone, from radio to smartphone generation

WATCH: Super hit songs by SPB

KR Sachidanandan or Sachy

For Malayalis, KR Sachidanandan, fondly called Sachy, was a “master storyteller”, a filmmaker who recently gave the hit movie, Ayyappanum Koshiyum. His untimely demise at the age of 48 left many in the Malayalam film industry shocked. He passed away on June 18 after suffering a massive cardiac arrest. He became critical after a hip replacement surgery, and was put on a mechanical ventilator and other life support systems.

A screenwriter and director, Sachy has churned out a series of movies with actor Prithviraj including hits like Chocolate, Robin Hood and Seniors. After Sachy split with his longtime collaborator Sethu in 2011, he debuted as an independent screenwriter. He directed two films with Prithviraj — Anarkali (2015) and Ayyappanum Koshiyum (2020). The latter was one of the highest-grossing films prior to the lockdown.


‘Wordsmith, master storyteller’: Condolences pour in for Director Sachy

‘Rest well brother, genius’: In emotional letter, Prithviraj mourns filmmaker Sachy

Sachy is no more but his 'Ayyappanum Koshiyum' has lit a new path for 'mass' cinema

WATCH: Tribute To Sachy by team Ayyappanum Koshiyum

Chiranjeevi Sarja

Kannada actor Chiranjeevi Sarja was healthy, according to his family, until he was brought to a hospital in Bengaluru in an unresponsive state on June 7. Although the doctors tried to resuscitate the 39-year-old actor, he passed away. He is survived by his wife Meghna Raj and  their son, who was born on October 22, after Chiranjeevi's death.

Chiranjeevi started his career in the Kannada film industry as an assistant director in his uncle, actor Arjun Sarja's movies. He debuted in Vayuputra in 2009 and acted in about 19 films, including Khaki and Aadya, which were released earlier this year.


Meghana Raj writes heartbreaking tribute to Chiranjeevi Sarja

In pictures: Actor Meghana Raj shares pictures of baby shower

'Most cherished moments in life': Meghana Raj's emotional video on Chiranjeevi Sarja

WATCH: Many bid farewell to Chiranjeevi Sarja

Nishikant Kamat

Nishikant Kamat was studying hotel management in Goa when he took interest in theatre. He worked in the television industry for a few years until he made his mark in the film industry with his debut directorial movie, Dombivali Fast, a Marathi movie in 2005, which he also remade in Tamil, under Evano Oruvan, starring R Madhavan.

He made his Bollywood debut with Mumbai Meri Jaan, based on the 2006 train bombings in Mumbai. Since then, this actor-director had no turning back, until an illness claimed his life at the age of 50. He was admitted to a hospital in Hyderabad for liver cirrhosis. He passed away a few days later, on August 17.

WATCH: A 2015 interview of Nishikant Kamat

Saroj Khan

This three-time National Award winner was the 'masterji' behind the choreography of over 200 songs, Saroj Khan passed away at the age of 71 on July 3 in Mumbai following a cardiac arrest. She was behind the memorable moves of Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit Nene in many of their hit movies. She won accolades for her choreography in ‘Hawa Hawai’ in Mr India (1987), ‘Ek Do Teen in Tezaab (1988), â€˜Dhak Dhak Karne Laga’ in Beta (1992) and ‘Tamma Tamma Loge’ in Thanedaar (1990).

READ: Noted Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan passes away, she was 71

WATCH: Madhuri Dixit, Saroj Khan rehearse on the set of Sahibaan

Sean Connery

Described as one of the best James Bonds in the franchise, Sean Connery passed away on October 31, at the age of 90. The scene where says “Bond, James Bond” in Dr. No (1962) is considered one of the iconic moments in the history of cinema. Beyond the Bond series, Sean Connery was also known for his movies such as The UntouchablesThe Name of the Rose, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October and Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie.

READ: Sean Connery: ‘Bond, James Bond’, but so much more

WATCH: Sean Connery on playing James Bond again after 12 years

Jayaprakash Reddy

Actor Jayaprakash Reddy, popularly known as JP, passed away after a heart attack on September 8. Jayaprakash Reddy had won accolades for his roles in Telugu movies like Samarasimha Reddy, Narasimha Naidu, Preminchukundam Raa, Seetayya and Gabbar Singh, among others. He was also particularly known for his Rayalaseema dialect.

A school teacher who started his acting career with theatre plays, JP has acted in over 100 films, including Kannada and Tamil, with his last being Sarileru Neekevvaru, starring Mahesh Babu.

WATCH: Jayaprakash Reddy's comedy scenes

Asif Basra

Asif Basra was a popular figure in the television and theatre space. He died by suicide at a private complex in Himachal Pradesh's Dharamshala on November 12 at age 53. Asif appeared in movies such as Kai Po Che, Krrish 3, Jab We Met and Black Friday, among others. He was last seen in the online series Hostages on Hotstar+Disney. The actor had also featured in crime thriller web series Paatal Lok (on Prime Video) as a journalist named Jai Malik. 

WATCH: A scene from Jab We Met featuring Asif Basra and Kareena Kapoor 


Born Zaibunnisa, actor Kumkum was 86 when she passed away on July 28 this year. A popular household name in the 50s and 60s, Kumkum had worked in over 100 films, with the most prominent being Mother India, Kohinoor and Mr X in Bombay. Her popular onscreen partner was Kishore Kumar. A trained Kathak dancer, she showed off her dance skills in several songs, including ‘Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Re' (Kohinoor). She made her Bollywood debut with Guru Dutt’s Aar Paar, in the song ‘Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar’.

WATCH: The song 'Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar’

Kim Ki-duk

This Korean director’s death due to COVID-19 on December 11 came as a huge shock to Kerala, where the 59-year-old was called 'Kimki'. He was known among a section of fans who followed international cinema. There were also allegations of sexual assault and harassment in South Korea during the MeToo Movement.

READ: Filmmaker Kim Ki-duk who died of COVID-19, has a thriving fan base in Kerala

WATCH: Kim Ki-duk at a IFFK 2013 in Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram

Wajid Khan

Bollywood music composer Wajid Khan (42) passed away on June 1 at the age of 42 due to cardiac arrest. He had collaborated with Sajid Khan (popularly called Sajid-Wajid) and gave songs such as ‘Jalwa’ (Fashion), ‘Hud Hud Dabangg’ (Dabangg), ‘Chinta Ta Ta Chita Chita’ (RowdyRathore) and ‘Fevicol Se’ (Dabangg 2), among others.

WATCH: Sajid-Wajid talk about Salman Khan in Dabangg 2

P Krishnamoorthy

P Krishnamoorthy, who passed away in Chennai on December 13, was a five-time National Award-winning art director. The 77-year-old, known for his works Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, English and Sanskrit films, died of age-related ailments. He also worked on designing sets of dance performances and theatre plays before working in the film industry. Some of his works can be seen in Indira (1995), Sangamam (1999), Thenali (2000), Vaisali (1988), Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha (1989), Perumthatchan (1991) and Praying with Anger (1992 film by M Night Shyamalan), among others.

READ: National Award winning art director P Krishnamoorthy passes away at 77

WATCH: An interview of P Krishnamoorthy

'Vadivel' Balaji

Known for his role in Tamil television show Kalakkapovadhu Yaaru, comedian and actor 'Vadivel' Balaji passed away due to prolonged illness on September 10. He was 42. He earned the prefix to his name by mimicking popular actor Vadivelu. His performance in Adhu Idhu Edu made him a household name in the television industry. He landed the lead role in Nayanthara's Kolamavu Kokila.

READ: Actor 'Vadivel' Balaji of 'Kalakkapovadhu Yaaru' fame passes away at 42

WATCH: A scene featuring Nayanthara and 'Vadivel Balaji' in Kolamavu Kokila

Bhanu Athaiya

This costume designer fetched India its first Oscar award for her work in 1983 Richard Attenborough's film, Gandhi. Bhanu Athaiya passed away on October 15 after prolonged illness due to a tumour in her brain. Athaiya shared the Oscar award with John Mollo, the British collaborator for Gandhi. The 91-year-old started her career in Guru Dutt's superhit film, CID (1956) and thereafter worked in over 100 films. She was active in the industry until five years ago.

READ: Costume designer Bhanu Athaiya, India's first Oscar winner, passes away at 91

WATCH: Bhanu Athaiya accepting the Best Costume Design award for Gandhi at the 1983 Oscars 


Malayalam television actor Sabarinathan, of Swami Ayyappan fame, was playing badminton when he suffered a cardiac arrest and passed on September 17. The 43-year-old was known for his roles in the television series like Sabarimala Swami Ayyappan, Minnukettu and Paadatha Painikili.

READ: Malayalam TV actor Sabarinathan of ‘Swami Ayyappan’ fame passes away at 43

WATCH: A scene from Swami Ayyappan

AB Raj

This noted Malayalam filmmaker has directed some popular movies like Sasthram Jayichu Manushyan Thottu and Lottery Ticket. A Bhaskar Raj passed away at age 95 at his home in Chennai on August 23 due to cardiac arrest. He began his career in 1951 as a director, screenwriter and producer, debuting with Kaliyalla Kalyanam (1968). Yesteryear actor Prem Nazir had acted in several of his movies.

READ: Noted Malayalam filmmaker AB Raj passes away at 95

WATCH: 'Ponninchinga' song from Sasthram Jayichu Manushyan Thottu

VJ Chitra

Television actor and host Chitra was known for her role as Mullai Kathiravan aka Milla in Tamil serial Pandian Stores. The 29-year-old was found dead in a hotel room in Chennai on December 9 after returning from a shoot. She shot to fame with her characters in Tamil soap operas such as Chinna Papa Periya Papa (on Sun TV), Saravanan Meenatchi (on Vijay TV), Darling Darling and Velunachi (on Zee Tamizh). Although it is suspected that she died by suicide, her husband Hemanth was arrested in connection with her death. 


Death of Tamil actor-host VJ Chitra: Tributes pour in as fans left shocked

VJ Chitra's death: Family, friends suspect foul play in actor's death


Naranipuzha Shanavas entered the film industry with the critically acclaimed Malayalam movie, Karie (2015). Five years later, his second film Sufiyum Sujatayum (starring Aditi Rao Hydari and Jayasurya) shot him to fame. The filmmaker was in the midst of shooting his third film when he suffered a cardiogenic shock, which put him on a ventilator for days. After he was declared brain dead, he passed away on the night of December 23.

READ: ‘Sufiyum Sujatayum’ director Naranipuzha Shanavas passes away, condolences pour in 

WATCH: Making of Sufiyum Sujatayum  

If you are aware of anyone facing mental health issues or feeling suicidal, please provide help. Here are some helpline numbers of suicide-prevention organisations that can offer emotional support to individuals and families. 

Tamil Nadu
State health department's suicide helpline: 104
Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050 (listed as the sole suicide prevention helpline in Tamil Nadu)

Andhra Pradesh
Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930
Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584

Sahai (24-hour): 080 65000111, 080 65000222

Maithri: 0484 2540530
Chaithram: 0484 2361161
Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.

State government's suicide prevention (tollfree): 104
Roshni: 040 66202000, 6620200
SEVA: 09441778290, 040 27504682 (between 9 and 7 pm)

Aasara offers support to individuals and families during an emotional crisis, for those dealing with mental health issues and suicidal ideation, and to those undergoing trauma after the suicide of a loved one. 
24x7 Helpline: 9820466726

Click here for working helplines across India.

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