As fans, friends and relatives express their sadness and shock at the sudden death of actress, TV personality and writer Priya Tendulkar, 42, all of them recall her as a woman of indomitable courage and strength.

Apart from the personal loss for many who knew her, her death would mean a big dent in the field of Marathi literature and Indian showbiz, where her kind of talent and skill is hard to come by.

Says Pradeep Dalvi, producer of the controversial Marathi play, Mee Nathuram Boltoy: "She was a far better writer than an artiste, in fact, a better writer than her father Vijay Tendulkar, a noted playwright."

Though he had met her a few times, he found her to be quite outspoken. Her presence had a dominating effect on a gathering, he says.

"She was an absolutely brave person who told her father on the morning she passed away that he need not worry about her," her grieving uncle Mangesh Tendulkar, younger brother of her father, told Gulf News from his Pune residence.

He rushed to Mumbai on hearing of her death on Thursday so that he could be by the family's side. "There seems to be a terrible turmoil in my brother's life. A year ago, Priya's brother, Rajendra, died of liver complications that was not diagnosed due to negligence. And now, Priya passes away due to a massive heart attack, which must have been a secondary effect of the cancer she was suffering from for two years."

For Vijay Tendulkar, now left with two daughters Sushma and Tanuja, "he has a habit of convincing himself that whatever happens in life he can take a proper grip of it. Outwardly, he has remained composed but I think only time will tell the effect of losing two children."

Priya shot to fame and became popular with TV viewers in the TV serial Rajani which showed a woman tackling social evils. Her uncle recalls that even in real life Priya was always in a jubilant mood and that must have helped in extending her life.

"She never indulged in self-pity but only gave courageous words to everyone," he says.

In her Priya Tendulkar Talk Show on TV, she was not just a host interested in keeping the show afloat, but the social activist in her came to the fore and made the show a lively one.

Compared to the present-day TV artistes who don the role of self-effacing, humble Indian women, Priya has stood apart as a bold, straightforward and honest woman in both reel and real life.

Her screen-husband in Rajani, Karan Razdan, became the real life one as the two fell in love on the sets.

Unfortunately, the marriage did not last and in one of her recent interviews to a newspaper, she had remarked, "Marriage as an institution is on the verge of crumbling. I have no regrets. Every experience, good or bad, is a great teacher, especially if you are in a creative field."

She had said she would never want to marry again as "you don't want to make the same mistakes twice."

Her friend, Bharti Achrekar, also an actress, of more than two decades describes her as a very private person despite always being cheerful and friendly.

"For a long time we did not know she had cancer as she never told anyone. I had not talked to her for some months and the tragic news came as a shock to me and what was worse was that I could not attend the funeral as I was in Delhi."

Years ago, when both the actresses were acting in a Marathi serial, Naura Kone, "we would get up early to cook our food and bring it in dabbas to the sets. Priya was very fond of cooking and always preferred home food."

For Pune-based news and features agency Unique Features which provided all the research for her Priya Tendulkar Talk Show for the past three years, her death has come as a terrible blow, of losing a talented and good-hearted person.

"When she had her mind set on something, she would move heaven and earth to achieve it. Her high morals and self-esteem is something everyone can learn and benefit from," says one of her colleagues.