The great fear of many actors is being typecast. When this happens, opportunities can dry up, as casting agents and audiences only see them in one particular kind of role. Yet this doesn’t always spell doom for an actor’s career. The late Jagdish Raj made his life’s work playing a cop in 144 movies, earning him the Guinness World Record for “the most typecast actor.”
Born in 1928, Raj’s silver screen career began in the 1960s. Following India’s independence from Britain in 1948, the country’s national cinema took off, evolving into what is currently a billion-dollar industry. It was in this booming landscape that Raj carved out his place in Bollywood as the go-to actor to play an inspector. Though over his career he did mix things up a bit, playing a judge, an eye surgeon, and even a villain.
While it’s easy to be glib about Raj’s infamous Guinness World Record, the actor was well respected and admired in India. After the news of his death was made public, several Bollywood stars expressed their grief on Twitter. Director Rahul Rawail lovingly called him “the official Police Inspector of the Indian film industry” and actress Saumya Tando lamented the loss of “the quintessential police officer for generations in Indian films.”
Raj’s son-in-law told The Times of India the actor was “in and out of hospital for the past two years and had respiratory problems” which he finally succumbed to. He is survived by his two daughters, Roopa Mahotra and actress Anita Raj. He was 84.