The Times of India reports that the New York-based actor had travelled to India at the beginning of this year to receive dental treatment. He had planned to return to the US on 8 April but was unable to do so due to the coronavirus lockdowns.
Indian theatre actor Dolly Thakore said Chowdhry suffered a ruptured ulcer in his intestine on 14 April and underwent emergency surgery in Mumbai. He died at 4am the following day.
Thakore said a funeral was held on this week with close family members in attendance. A celebration of Chowdhry’s life is planned for 5 May.
Chowdhry’s half-sister, Raell Padamsee, confirmed the news from her Instagram page.
Chowdhry began his career performing in Bollywood films during the late Seventies. After writing and starring in the 1991 Canadian film Sam & Me, about a young Indian immigrant who forms an unlikely friendship with an eldery Jewish man, Chowdhry landed a number of acting roles in the US.
Among these was a part as telemarketer Vikram in seasons four and five of NBC’s The Office, and in US dramas including Prison Break and Law & Order: SVU.
He also had a part in the 2006 romantic comedy Last Holiday, starring Queen Latifah.
Bollywood actor Rahul Khanna led tributes to Chowdrhy after hearing reports of his death.
“Gutted to learn of #RanjitChowdhry’s passing,” he wrote. ”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!”
US actor Andy Buckley, who starred in The Office as David Wallace, tweeted: “This lovely actor passed away in India. Ranjit Chowdhry. He played a Vikram on The Office. He was terrific on the show and a lovely fella. Rest In Peace Ranjit [sic].”
Actor Poorna Jagannathan said: This guy made magic out of nothing, filling paper thin roles with so much depth. I always saw my father when I was with him- the same humor, stubbornness and brilliance. Heartbroken, dear friend. RIP.”