1. Gore Vidal, 86
An American author, playwright, essayist and an occasional actor, who also aspired to be the President. Few litterateurs have made their presence felt in public life as Vidal. He was witty and acerbic and his penchant for sharp, incisive statements put him at loggerheads with his contemporaries like Norman Mailer and Truman Capote.
2. Neil Armstrong, 82
He took one small step for man that turned out to be a giant leap for mankind. He was the first man to land on the moon on July 20, 1969, a feat that catches the fancy of generations even today.
3. AK Hangal, 95
The kindly old man of Indian cinema acted in over 200 films. including Sholay and Lagaan. He was never the star of a movie, but he gave Indian pop culture one of its most iconic movie lines: “Itna sannatta kyun hai bhai?”
4. Dara Singh, 84
Dara Singh was India’s ultimate gentle giant. In his early life, he earned international acclaim with his wrestling prowess, but the nation will remember him in his on-screen avatars, most fondly in his portrayal of Hanuman in Ramanand Sagar’s TV blockbuster Ramayan.
5. Yash Chopra, 80
The ‘king of romance’ gave us love stories like Kabhi Kabhie, Silsila, Lamhe, Chandni and Veer Zaara. But his 5-decade-long career was not just about romantic dramas; he also gave us superhit thrillers like Deewar and Trishul, which established Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘angry young man’ image, and Darr with newcomer Shah Rukh Khan.
6. Jaspal Bhatti, 57
For Jaspal Bhatti, satire was mightier than the sword. He shot to fame with Flop Show on Doordarshan and was known for floating mock political parties, Hawala Party and Recession Party for instance, to expose corruption and those who revelled in it.
7. Pandit Ravi Shankar, 92
Pandit Ravi Shankar conquered the West with his sitar. One of the greatest exponents of the Senia Maihar gharana, the versatile maestro will not only be remembered for his soulful notes in Satyajit Ray’s Apur Sansar or Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anuradha, but also for his collaboration with Yehudi Menuhin and George Harrison. As the Beatles star had said, he was truly the “godfather of world music”.
8. Rajesh Khanna, 69
India’s first superstar had a whole generation of fans swooning at his feet, as he crooned timeless numbers like ‘Mere sapnon ki rani’, crinkling his eyes in a smile and tilting his head just so. He delivered 15 consecutive hits in three years (1969-71), a record that remains unbroken. Many of his films like Aradhana, Khamoshi, Kati Patang, and Anand went on to become classics.
9. IK Gujral, 93
He was a PM by chance and his stint at the top job was even more staid. But his legacy will live through the Gujral Doctrine, a set of five foreign policy principles that became the guiding light for India’s foreign relations with its neighbours.
10. Prabuddha Dasgupta, 58
The fashion and fine-art photographer was known for his black-and-white frames that celebrated the female form. His photographs captured a sense of naturalness, best exemplified in his book Women. He shot for leading magazines like Vogue and GQ, and his works have been exhibited internationally.
Images: 1, 2, 5: Reuters; 3: B Mathur / Reuters; 4, 7, 11, 12: Getty Images; 6, 8: Sameer Joshi / Fotocorp; 9: Rafi quar Rahman / Reuters, 10: Corbis
11. Verghese Kurien, 90
Verghese Kurien never liked milk, but the way he made India the world’s largest milk producer earned him the monicker of the ‘Father of White Revolution’. His path-breaking ideas that steered Operation Flood pulled millions of cattle farmers out of abject poverty and made Amul a household name.
12. Homai Vyarawalla, 98
India’s first woman photojournalist, she often used the pseudonym ‘Dalda 13’. Her black and white photographs captured Indian history in the making: The first flag-hoisting at the Red Fort in Delhi on August 15, 1947; the departure of the last viceroy Lord Mountbatten; the funerals of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri; the arrival of the Dalai Lama into India via Sikkim in 1956.
13. Brajesh Mishra, 84
Mishra was India’s first national security advisor from 1998 to 2004, and played a key role the country’s strategic affairs—from planning for the 1998 Pokhran nuclear tests, to improving relations with China through the appointment of special representatives, and pushing for the Indo-US nuclear deal.
14. Whitney Houston, 48
In the 1980s, her glorious voice and her looks made her an instant star. Her 1985 debut album Whitney Houston and the 1992 soundtrack to her film The Bodyguard sold 10 million copies in the US alone. The single ‘I Will Always Love You’ (The Bodyguard) became the best-selling single by a female artiste in music history. Her singing technique influenced many, including Mariah Carey and Celine Dion.
15. Sunil Gangopadhyay, 78
Prolific Bengali author and Sahitya Akademi president Sunil Gangopadhyay straddled several genres of literature with ease. His seminal narrative of 19th century Bengali society, Sei Samay, won him the Akademi award. Gangopadhyay lives on through Kakababu, Nil Lohit, Neera and a plethora of fictional characters that he brought to life.
16. Capt Lakshmi Sehgal, 97
The doctor-turned-freedom fighter launched the Rani Jhansi regiment of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army to fight the British. She continued her crusade for justice in independent India, treating Bangladeshi refugees in 1971 and victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984.
17. Dave Brubeck, 91
He helped make jazz popular again in the 1950s and ’60s. The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s album Jazz Goes to College (1954) sold over 100,000 copies; their 1959 album Time Out followed suit with million-plus copies. The number ‘Take Five’ from the latter album is considered a jazz classic today.
18. Sailen Manna, 87
Manna was possibly the greatest defender Indian football has ever seen. In a career spanning 20 years, he never fouled and was never booked. In 1951, playing barefoot, he led India to its fi rst international gold medal at the Asian Games.
19. Donna Summer, 63
She was the Queen of Disco with a string of hits: ‘Love to Love You Baby’, ‘I Feel Love’, ‘She Works Hard for the Money’. A five-time Grammy Award winner, Summer’s repertoire went beyond dance music to include funk, R&B, rock, gospel and electronica.
Images: 13: Reuters; 15: Ronjoy Gogoi / Hindustan Times; 17: Fred Prouser / Reuters; 18: Bhaskar Mallick / Fotocorp; 14, 19: Getty Images