Kanodia, often termed a Gujarati film superstar, had worked in over 200 films in a career spanning four decades. With his elder brother Mahesh, he also shared film music credit as ‘Mahesh-Naresh’ in several of his films. His demise came two days after death of Mahesh Kanodia, 82, on Sunday in Gandhinagar.
Dr RK Patel, director of UNMICRC, confirmed the demise to TOI, adding that the actor was battling with Covid-19 infection and other complications. He was on ventilator for past four days. Rumours of his death had circulated on social media after which his son Hitu – a Gujarati film actor and MLA from Idar – had appealed to refrain from rumours and pray for the thespian.
“With his acting, he had gained a special place in the heart of moviegoers in Gujarat for decades. His contribution in Gujarati film industry would be remembered forever,” mentioned Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani in an obituary on Tuesday. Several fans took to social media to pay homage to the star.
With brother Mahesh, Naresh performed in orchestra, taking care of mimicry, dance and music. His stage name before he became popular was ‘Johnny Junior.’ Even after he found success with films, the orchestra remained active and performed in India and overseas.
Kanodia started his acting career with ‘Veni ne Aavya Phool’ in 1969 and went on to star in a string of hits in ‘80s and ‘90s such as Jog Sanjog, Meru Malan, Vanzari Vav, Dhola Maru, Jode Rehjo Raj, Mehendi Rang Lagyo, Unchi Medi na Uncha Mol, and Narmada na Kanthe to name a few. Several of his films went on to celebrate Silver Jubilee, said Ahmedabad-based film historian Kartikeya Bhatt.
“If we see his contribution to the Gujarati film industry, it’s manifold – he introduced the ‘dancing star’ to the Gujarati films. Earlier heroes couldn’t shake a leg. With brother Mahesh, he also produced many films and contributed to the music,” said Bhatt. “Few might know, but he had also acted in Hindi film Chhota Aadmi. He and Mahesh Kanodia struggled in Mumbai in 1960s after their very successful orchestra performances but found their calling in Gujarati films.”
Riding on his popularity, Kanodia forayed into politics and became MLA on BJP ticket from Karjan in 2002. He lost the constituency in 2007. Kanodia was in news in 2015 for his reported selection in the Indian jury to select official India entry to be sent to Academy Awards.