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R.I.P. Ranjit Chowdhry, from Bollywood/Hollywood and The Office

Illustration for article titled R.I.P. Ranjit Chowdhry, from Bollywood/Hollywood and The Office
Photo: Leonard Adam/WireImage (Getty Images)

Ranjit Chowdhry has died. Best known to American audiences for his two-episode stint as telemarkter-turned-paper-salesman Vikram on the U.S. edition of The Office, Chowdhry was a prolific actor in both U.S. and Indian TV and cinema, in addition to his regular appearances on the stage. He died in Mumbai on Wednesday, at the age of 64. Per Variety, no formal cause of death has been announced, but he was reportedly suffering from the effects of a ruptured ulcer shortly before his death.


Born in Mumbai, Chowdhry came up in the Indian film system, co-starring in movies like Khatta Meetha, Baton Baton Mein, and Khubsoorat. Eventually transitioning to working on the other side of the Pacific, he carved out small parts for himself in American films like It Could Happen To You, Girl 6, and Last Holiday. He also established a long-running collaboration with director Deepa Mehta, who cast Chowdhry in several of her films, with his most prominent role coming in 2002's Bollywood/Hollywood.

Meanwhile, Chowdhry also became a regular face on American TV; he had a recurring role on Bill Cosby’s Cosby in the late ’90s, and made appearances on everything from Prison Break to Girls to Law & Order: SVU. His most memorable role for many people, though, will be as Vikram, one of several otherwise intelligent people who found themselves sucked into the orbit of The Office’s Michael Scott over the years. Originally debuting as a hyper-competent telemarketer in the fourth-season episode “Money,” he returned the following year as an increasingly horrified member of the “Dream Team” employed by the doomed Michael Scott Paper Company. In both outings, Chowdhry gave brief glimpses at the qualities that made for a great Office guest star role: A quiet dignity, and an increasing unwillingness to suffer the foolishness of the show’s central fool.