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Acclaimed community theatre artiste Channi succumbs to virus

“He exposed us to art cinema, film society movement and helped shape our personalities. He will be missed by the world of art and certainly by Chandigarh and Punjab,”

IANS | NEW DELHI |

Globally acclaimed actor-director, comedian and community theatre artiste Gurcharan Singh Channi on Thursday succumbed to coronavirus here.

He was 70 years old.

The man, who had to his credit of introducing street theatre in Chandigarh, was on ventilator for some time. He was undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Mohali, near here.

His wife, Harleen Kohli, has been undergoing treatment for the virus.

A recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi’s national award for community theatre, Channi is an alumnus of Panjab University’s Department of Indian theatre and has twice served as the chairman of Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Akademi (1999-2007 and 2013-15).

From his first play ‘Dafa 144’, to ‘Zindagi Retire Nahi Hoti’ to his latest ‘Rocket ho ya Bomb, Pehno Condom’, many of his plays became popular.

“Whenever the Chandigarh streets reopen after this pandemic, they will be without the pleasant sounds of vibrantly thumping hearts! Really bad times!” said Balvinder Singh, former Principal of the Government College of Boys in Sector 11.

Rajvinder Singh, three-time German poet laureate who has been lauded for enriching the German vocabulary, said Indian theatre has lost a great practitioner but he has lost another friend.

“As an art practitioner, Gurcharan Channi was not just creative, but primarily innovative as he would show reality by challenging it to make meaningful contribution. As such his path to acting was adventurist, not rigid,” told IANS over phone from Berlin.

“He took us to many places to perform including Sri Ram Centre for Performing Arts, JNU Delhi, Gateway of India, Shivaji Park Mumbai, a documentary film by Imtiaz Khan and much more, acting workshops with the doyens of theatre like Badal Circar,” recalled artist Diwan Manna, who is the Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi President.

“He exposed us to art cinema, film society movement and helped shape our personalities. He will be missed by the world of art and certainly by Chandigarh and Punjab,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

Veteran journalist Raman Mohan recalled his association with Channi since the school days in Patiala. “A gentleman and a true artiste he brought cheer to thousands through his ‘nukkad nataks’ and clowning acts in hospitals for the sick. May your soul be in peace Channi. You will be missed.”

Mourning Channi’s death, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said he was a talented actor-director and theatre personality who raised very pertinent social issues.

“My condolences to his family and associates and I wish his wife, who is still undergoing Covid19 treatment, a speedy recovery,” he added.