A maverick filmmaker like Yash Raj Chopra, a superstar like Rajesh Khanna, character artists like Achala Sachdev and A.K. Hangal, famous cinematographer Ashok Mehta and widely followed movie critic Nikhat Kazmi - it was almost as if god was planning his own movie in heaven this year.
IANS takes a look at the lives of those who regaled the audiences in their own unique ways through the film industry - those who gave their 'aakhri salaam' to filmdom in 2012:
Nikhat Kazmi (Jan 20): Breast cancer took a toll on the life of the lady whose movie-based writings and reviews were awaited by readers of The Times of India for over two decades. She wasn't a celebrity or an entertainer; but to miss out on Kazmi in this list would be highly unfair, given how she showed the "road for improvement" to youngsters like Abhishek Bachchan. She died in the capital at the age of 53.
Raj Kanwar (Feb 13): He gave stars like Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra their first big breaks with "Deewana" and "Andaaz", respectively. Kanwar, who also directed "Judaai (1980)", "Jeet">Jeet", "Badal" and "Laadla", breathed his last in Singapore before he could undergo a kidney transplant. He was in his early 50s.
Joy Mukherjee (March 9): Known as the Bengali candy, this Bollywood charmer of the 1960s, became popular through movies like "Love In Simla", "Love In Tokyo" and "Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon". One of the best looking Indian actors of his times, Mukherjee lost his life to thalassemia in Mumbai. He was 73.
Achala Sachdev (April 30): Bollywood's quintessential on-screen mother Achala Sachdev's life came to an end after six months of being bedridden at a Pune hospital. The actress, especially known for her role in 1965 film "Waqt", where she was part of the legendary song "Ae meri zohra jabeen", made her last big screen appearance in "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham". She played mother to Amitabh Bachchan, who has memories of her soft-hearted and benevolent nature.
Taruni Sachdeva (May 14): She was hardly 14 and lost her life in a plane crash in Nepal. Popular for appearing in a line-up of Rasna commercials, little Taruni is also remembered for playing the role of Amitabh Bachchan's cute classmate in "Paa". She was talented, and had even featured in two Malayalam films - "Vellinakshatram" (2004) and "Sathyam" (2004).
Dara Singh (July 12): He made a rare transition from the wrestling ring to the big screen and tasted success as the 'Iron Man' of Bollywood. He played numerous characters - the action star, hero, father, uncle and grandfather - in films and endeared himself to several fans, who enjoyed his presence in over 140 films, including "Anand", "Mera Naam Joker" and the much-loved "Jab We Met". He breathed his last following a brief illness. He was 84.
Rajesh Khanna (July 18): Women looked up to him as the "epitome of romance" - India's first superstar, Rajesh Khanna, fondly remembered as Kaka, succumbed to a liver infection at the age of 69. He knew it was time to "pack up" and his funeral procession, attended by thousands of fans, was proof of the adulation he had amassed over the years through movies like "Aradhana", "Do Raaste", "Safar" and "Anand".
Ashok Mehta (Aug 15): One of India's best known cinematographers, Ashok Mehta became an informidable name in the film industry, given his filmography of evocative projects like "Bandit Queen", "36 Chowringhee Lane", "Paroma", and "Utsav". He suffered from advanced lung cancer. He was 65.
A.K. Hangal (Aug 26): At 96, would you think of being on the fashion runway? Such was his zest for life that A.K. Hangal did that. He died at 97 - but only after over four decades of entertaining Hindi movie viewers with about 200 films like "Shaukeen", "Sholay", "Bawarchi", "Abhimaan" and "Guddi". He was in penury towards his last few years, and was even unable to pay his mounting medical bills. But his passion for his art remained unaffected.
Yash Chopra (Oct 21): Romance thy name in Bollywood has always been Yash Chopra! He almost taught youngsters "how to romance" through his love sagas like "Daag", "Kabhi Kabhie", "Chandni" and "Lamhe". He made socially relevant films like "Dhool Ka Phool" and "Waqt" too, and finished his last movie, "Jab Tak Hai Jaan", just in time before dengue and an ensuing multi-organ failure took this beloved filmmaker's life. He was 80.
Jaspal Bhatti (Oct 25): He spread laughter all through his life, but left behind many in tears when he lost his life in a car accident in Punjab. He was 57. Bhatti, perhaps the most famous Sikh comedian, loved humour and satire and began his tryst with these during his college days itself. Who can forget his "Ulta-Pulta" show or the insanely funny "Flop Show"? This comedy star, who even featured in Bollywood films like "Kuch Naa Kaho" and "Fanaa", was a hit all the way.
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at email@example.com)