Ranjit Chowdhry, the Indian actor best known to American audiences as Vikram from The Office, has died at the age of 64.
Chowdhry passed away on April 15, according to his sister Raell Padamsee. Padamsee said in an Instagram post that Chowdhry’s funeral would be held on May 5. Chowdhry’s cause of death has not been made public.
Chowdhry Was an Actor ‘Who Believed in Keeping it Real’
In a tribute to Chowdhry, The Hindu’s Namrata Joshi wrote that he will be remembered for his “eternally boyish charm that he exuded on screen in the middle-of-the-road films of the late 70s and early 80s.” The Indian Express’ Ektaa Malik said that “Chowdhry was perhaps the last of the actors of that generation who believed in keeping it real.”
Chowdhry Relocated From India to Canada in the 1990s
Chowdhry relocated from his homeland to North America in the 1990s, settling in Canada. The Indian Express said Chowdhry chose Canada because it was “the preferred choice of directors of the Indian diaspora.”
In addition to his appearances in The Office, Chowdhry also appeared in the Queen Latifah comedy Last Holiday and in two episodes of Prison Break. According to his IMDb page, Chowdhry had not appeared in anything since his 2013 role in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit.
One review of 2006’s Last Holiday said that Chowdhry “may have less than 10 minutes screen time in Last Holiday, but he gets some of the film’s best laughs.” The review added that the role was Chowdhry’s biggest in North America to date.
For his role as Rocky, a taxi driver who moonlighted as a drag queen, in the movie Bollywood/Hollywood, Chowdhry was nominated for the best supporting actor at the Genie Awards.
Vikram Gave ‘The Office’ Fans Perhaps the Show’s Most Quotable Proverb
In his most famous American role, in The Office, Chowdhry played Vikram, whom Steve Carrell’s Michael Scott regards as the “best salesman” he has ever met. The two characters meet while working at a telemarketing company in Season 4. Later, in Season 5, Scott recruits Vikram to work for his fledgling Michael Scott Paper Company. That episode marks Vikram’s last appearance in the show, as he leaves when the new company fails to garner investment from Scott’s grandmother.
Arguably Vikram’s most famous line is his proverb, “Confidence – It’s the food of the wise man but the liquor of the fool.” Jenna Fischer’s character replies, “I’m looking forward to getting to know you Vikram.”
A prominent thread on the official The Office Reddit page is titled, “Am I the only one who wishes Vikram had joined the main cast?”
One Tribute Said Chowdhry Was a ‘Towering Icon of Indian Diaspora Cinema’
Fellow Bollywood star Rahul Khanna said of Chowdhry’s sad death, “Gutted to learn of #RanjitChowdhry’s passing. Despite his diminutive frame, he was a towering icon of Indian diaspora cinema and a master of his craft. By far, one of the most endearingly quirky and acerbically witty people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. A true original!”
Director Rahul Dholakia tweeted about Chowdhry’s death, saying, “Very Sad to hear about #RanjitChowdhry – was a big fan of his films – Great comic timing & Good actor. khatta Metha, khubsoorat, lonely in America, Sam and me. He was also the first ever judge, in our Show Naya Andaz in New Jersey in 1993.#RIP.”