Raju Srivastava, Beloved Comedian, Dead at 58

Beloved Indian comedian Raju Srivastava has died. Known as "the common man's comedian," Srivastava passed away Wednesday, Sept. 21 following a more than month-long hospitalization after he suffered a cardiac arrest while working out in the gym, his family confirmed. He was 58.

Srivastava was initially hospitalized on Aug. 10. According to the Times of India, the comedian was working out at a gym in Delhi when he began to experience chest pain and collapsed. He was rushed to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi, where he underwent angioplasty. Over the course of the following weeks, Srivastava remained hospitalized on a ventilator, undergoing treatment. His family shared in a health update just last week, per the BBC, that Srivastava was recovering slowly, though they said he remained on a ventilator. Times of India reported that Srivastava never regained consciousness. His family confirmed Wednesday that 41 days after he was first hospitalized after suffering cardiac arrest, Srivastava passed away at the age of 58.

Born in Kanpur city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in 1963, Srivastava's comedic talents developed early. As a child, he developed a talent for mimicry, with his ability to mimic Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan later becoming well known in the world of Hindi-language comedy. It was in the '80s that Srivastava first joined the entertainment industry as an actor in Hindi films. His first sketch was "Hasna Mana Hai" ("Laughter is Banned"), which appeared in the form of an audio cassette. Later that decade, he moved to Mumbai, regarded as India's film capital, to be closer to Bollywood, and went on to make his acting debut in Maine Pyaar Kiya. He later starred in films including Baazigar and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. As his acting career grew, so did his comedy career, with Srivastava participating in The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, a reality show for stand-up comedy, in 2005. His appearance on the show helped his fame skyrocket, and Srivastava soon became known as the common man's comedian and became beloved throughout India.

His passing has devastated the country and the comedy world. Reacting to his passing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote, "Raju Srivastava brightened our lives with laughter, humour and positivity," adding, "He leaves us too soon but he will continue to live in the hearts of countless people thanks to his rich work over the years." On Instagram, comedian Kapil Sharma shared a throwback photo of himself and Srivastava from The Kapil Sharma show, writing that he wishes "I could meet you for one last time. May God bless you. You will be remembered a lot."

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According to Times of India, Srivastava's body was transported from the AIIMS to his residence Wednesday and cremated at the Nigambodh Ghat in Delhi on Thursday. His wife and daughter, as well as close friends and family, were there to say their final goodbyes.