Actor and director Satish Kaushik died on Wednesday at the age of 66, his friend and colleague Anupam Kher said.

Kaushik suffered a heart attack during his stay in Gurugram, reported The Indian Express. According to Kaushik’s Instagram page, he was in Gurugram for a wedding.

“I know ‘death is the ultimate truth of this world!’”, Kher tweeted. “But I never thought in my dreams that I would write this thing about my best friend Satish Kaushik while alive. Life will never be the same without you Satish.”

Kaushik, an alumnus of National School of Drama and Film and Television Institute of India, started his career in theatre. He was among the dialogue writers for FTII alumnus Kundan Shah’s cult comedy Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (he also appeared in the 1983 film as a buffoonish assistant). Kaushik was also a part of the ensemble cast of Shyam Benegal’s Mandi (1983) and Girish Karnad’s Utsav (1984).

Kaushaik’s skill for comedy led to a string of roles in mainstream Hindi cinema, including as the cook Calendar in Mr India (1987), Jalwa (1987), Ram Lakhan (1989), Bade Miya Chote Miyan (1997), Deewana Mastana (1997) and Saajan Chale Sasural (1997).

His most recent roles include the films Thar (2022), Sharmaji Namkeen (2022) and Chhatriwali (2023) and the web series Guilty Minds and Bloody Brothers. He was cast as former Defence Minister Jagjivan Ram in Kangana Ranaut’s upcoming political drama Emergency.

Kaushik turned director in 1993 with the mega-budget crime comedy Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (1993). Kaushik took over from Shekhar Kapur, who had walked out of the project.

Although the Anil Kapoor-Sridevi starrer was a flop, Kaushik went on to direct more films, including Prem (1995) – the acting debut of Tabu and Sanjay Kapoor – Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain (1999), Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai and the Salman Khan-led Tere Naam (2003). His final film as director was Kaagaz, starring Pankaj Tripathi as a man who is mistakenly declared dead.

In her autobiography Sach Kahun Toh, actor Neena Gupta fondly recalls her long-standing friendship with Kaushik. Gupta credits Kaushik, whom she met at Kirori Mal College in Delhi, with encouraging her to enrol in the National School of Drama.

In 1989, Kaushik offered to marry Gupta when she became pregnant with Masaba Gupta so that the child would have a father’s name in her birth certificate.

“The fact that he was ready to sacrifice his own chance at true love and happiness for me was very touching,” Gupta writes.