Harry Potter actor Richard Griffiths dies

Updated 30 March 2013
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Harry Potter actor Richard Griffiths dies

LONDON: British actor Richard Griffiths, best known for his roles as Harry Potter’s uncle and in the cult film “Withnail & I,” has died aged 65, his agent said yesterday.
The portly star of stage and screen, one of Britain’s best loved character actors, died on Thursday from complications following heart surgery, Simon Beresford said.
Griffiths will be forever remembered as Uncle Monty by fans of cult classic Withnail & I, although he reached his biggest audience as Uncle Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films.
Daniel Radcliffe, who played the boy wizard in the blockbuster Potter series, led the tributes to a man he said had offered him “encouragement, tutelage and humor.”
The two men worked together on the Harry Potter films and later in the play Equus.
“Any room he walked into was made twice as funny and twice as clever just by his presence. I am proud to say I knew him,” Radcliffe said in a statement.
Griffiths was born in 1947 in Yorkshire in northern England, the son of a steelworker. His parents were both deaf so he had to learn sign language at an early age.
He left school at 15 and worked as a porter for a while, but his boss persuaded him to go back to education, to study drama.
He later joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, excelling in playing the clown.
Early film credits included Chariots of Fire, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and Gandhi, before he landed a starring role in the 1987 comedy Withnail & I.
Nicholas Hytner, the director of London’s National Theatre who directed Griffiths in one of his biggest stage hits, The History Boys, said he was “the life of every party.”
He recalled anecdotes that “would go on for hours, apparently without destination, constantly side-splitting. The only way to stop them was to tell him you were walking away.”
Griffiths won a Tony and an Olivier award for his role as an inspirational teacher in The History Boys, and was nominated for a Bafta for best actor for the film version.


Bollywood’s Amitabh Bachchan becomes farmers’ star after clearing loans

Updated 21 November 2018
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Bollywood’s Amitabh Bachchan becomes farmers’ star after clearing loans

  • Farmers and other agriculture workers together make up about half India’s 1.3 billion people
  • Bachchan wrote in his blog this week that he had helped 1,398 farmers from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and felt a ‘sense of accomplishment’

CHENNAI, India: Bollywood veteran Amitabh Bachchan was hailed on Wednesday as a star of India’s farmers after clearing loans worth more than 40 million rupees ($560,000) as an agricultural crisis forces many rural workers into extreme poverty.
India’s farmers have been hit hard by a drop in commodity prices, stagnant wages, record fuel prices and high fertilizer costs, sparking rallies across the country this year calling for better prices for produce and loan waivers.
Farmers and other agriculture workers together make up about half India’s 1.3 billion people.
“It is a very big problem that has left farmers across the country in dire straits,” Rakesh Tikait, spokesperson of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Indian Farmers’ Union) told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview.
“The government policies are flawed and need an overhaul. We are fighting for that change but are thankful for any help that comes along the way.”
Tikait said Bachchan’s gesture might have been symbolic but it meant a lot for farmers who were struggling to survive.
More than 12,600 farmers and agricultural workers committed suicide in 2015 alone, accounting for about 10 percent of all suicides in India, with almost 60 percent of suicides caused by bankruptcy and indebtedness, according to official data.
Bachchan, one of Indian cinema’s most revered actors, wrote in his blog this week that he had helped 1,398 farmers from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and felt a “sense of accomplishment.”
“Gratitude leans across to the desire of removing some of the burdens that farmers continue to suffer ... and the inner peace it generates when the desired is completed,” he wrote.