Multi-talented Comedian - Mehmood
Mehmood was a popular actor, director and producer of bollywood, who mostly performed in comic roles. He has worked in more than 300 films in a career spanning over three decades. His fans remember him as one of the most hilarious comedian of all the time. The inimitable Mehmood was Bollywood’s best known comedian. He made the comedian’s role an integral part of the story line. Often the comedian’s plight proved more interesting than even the hero’s romance and this made Mehmood, the uncrowned king of comedy.
Mehmood Ali was born on 29th September 1932 in Mumbai to actress and dancer Mumtaz Ali. Mehmood was one of eight children born to Mumtaz Ali. He had an elder sister and the remaining six siblings were younger to him. His elder sister Minoo mumtaz was a dancer. Mehmood was a born comic. His mother once caught him at the railway station, attempting to run away from home, when he was a child. When she angrily reminded him that even his clothes had been bought by his father, Mehmood quickly began to drop his clothes at the station itself.
He began acting as a child actor in Bombay Talkies film Kismet. After he grew up, he began earning money by doing odd jobs, selling poultry products. For a short while, he was a chauffer for director P.L Santoshi. Years later, when P.L Santoshi’s son, Rajkumar Santoshi made his own comedy Andaz Apna Apna, he wrote in a special part for Mehmood. He played a sleazy film producer of Wah Wah Productions. In those days, Mehmood was also hired to teach table tennis to Meena Kumari. The life history of Mehmood Ali’s career blossomed after his marriage to Madhu, who was Meena Kumari’s sister. It was after marriage and becoming a father of his son Masood, he felt a pressing need to take proper care of his family. In Mehmood’s first real roles in films, he played a murder victim in Guru Dutt’ suspense thriller CID. After that, Guru Dutt gave him a small part in Pyassa. But Mehmood went unnoticed in these small roles. His self respect did not allow him to let Meena Kumari to help him. He walked out of a Meena Kumari starrer Ek Hi Rasta because he was offered the role due to his being her brother-in-law.
He got his first major break in the film Parvarish, starring Raj Kapoor and Mala Sinha in 1958, in which he landed a role as the brother of the hero Raj Kapoor. After Parvarish, Mehmood’s comic talent was recognized in the industry. He was then offered meatier roles in films like Gumnam, Pyar Kiye Ja, Pyar Hi Pyar. In Sasural, he was the lead comedian opposite Shobha Khote. Their pair was so successful that it was repeated in hits like Love In Tokyo and Ziddi. Later Aruna Irani replaced her in the comedy team. The film Dil Tera Deewana, starring Shammi Kapoor and Mala Sinha firmly made him a top star. Every well known films of the 60’s had a parallel comic track with Mehmood. He is known for his work in films like Zindagi (1964), Gumnaam (1965), Pyar Kiye Ja (1966), Love in Tokyo (1966), Patthar Ke Sanam (1967), Padosan (1968), Ankhen (1968), Do Phool (1968) and many others. He received the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award for Dil Tera Deewana and Filmfare Best Supporting Actor award for films Pyar Kiye Ja and Waris.
Mehmood teamed up with another comedian I.S Johar, in India’s first featured length comedy, Namestiji. The comic duo made few more such films by incorporating their names in film’s titles like Johar Mehmood in Goa and Johar Mehmood in Hong Kong. As the 60’s progressed, Mehmood kept expanding the roles in Hindi movie and a time came when the producers approached him, offering him full length comedy films. By this period, Mehmood’s place in Hindi cinema became more important than that of the leading man. At the peak of his career in the early 70’s, leading heroes in Bollywood began refusing to work with him as they were afraid of being overshadowed. In the early 60’s, Mehmood started his own company, which produced Chote Nawab in 1961. This was followed by Bhoot Bangla, a suspense comedy thriller. One of the most successful movies of his company was Padosan. The songs picturised on Mehmood were mostly funny songs with weird vocabulary like Wua Wua or Kudu Kudu to supplement his antics. Most of his songs were sung by Manna Dey. Some of his famous songs include, ‘Ek chatur naar’ (Padosan), ‘Aao Twist Karen’ (Bhoot Bangla), ‘Ye do deewane dil ke’ (Johar Mehmood in Goa), ‘Hum kale hain to kya hua’ (Gumnaam), ‘Thenge se’ (Patthar ke sanam), ‘Aiyayo Aiyayo’ (Pyar kiye Ja).
By the mid 70’s, Mehmood had hit the danger zone. With his inimitable scene stealing act, he became an anathema to mainstream cinema. After two decades of success, Mehmood’s comedy began to come undone. He was accused of downgrading the quality of comedy in Hindi films. As a result of the criticism, Mehmood decided to concentrate on his own production house. He began to play the lead roles in his films like Bhoot Bangla, Kunwara Baap, Ginny or Johny. Most of these films were success. Mehmood’s inability to adjust to changing fashions and his loud scene screaming tactics finally put an end to his career in the middle of 80’s. He had made one last attempt at a comeback with a film Dushman Duniya Ke (1996). He has also choreographed for this movie.
Mehmood created his own style in the world of Hindi cinema by blending humour with sensitivity. He was a master at playing the hero’s friend, who would help him out of sticky situations with his street smart ways. His other memorable characters were The Master Pillai in Padosan, the bus conductor in Bombay To Goa or the rickshawallah in Kunwara Baap etc. He lifted comedy to a sublime level. Mehmood happened to the hemisphere of hilarity. Most of his comic virtuosity depended on split second timing. He invented a completely original lexicon of laughter. Mehmood was immensely popular with his friends. Dev Anand, who directed him in Lootmaar and Des Pardes, called him colorful man and a good human being.
Besides acting, Mehmood also introduced some extraordinary talent to Hindi cinema. It was Mehmood, who gave R.D Burman his first break with Chote Nawab and worked with him regularly down the years. After a misunderstanding with Panchamda, Mehmood introduced another composing virtuoso, Rajesh Roshan, in Kunwara Baap. He is also responsible in a way for Amitabh Bacchan’s rise to fame. At the time when Mehmood’s career was at the peak, Amitabh Bacchan was a struggling newcomer and had no place to stay in Mumbai. Mehmood offered him a room in his house, where he was staying with his brother Mansoor Ali. He was producing a new comedy called Bombay To Goa and he gave Amitabh Bacchan the lead role in his film. After seeing Amitabh Bacchan in Bombay To Goa, Salim Javed found in him the perfect angry young man.
Some of the memorable films of Mehmood:
Padosan was released in 1968. The film was Mehmood’s home production. It was directed by Jyoti Swaroop and written by Rajendra Krishnan. The music for the film was composed by R.D Burman. The film was a remake of the Telgu film, Pakinnti Ammayi.
While Mehmood was struggling in Bombay talkies, he had a friendly relation with the versatile actor, Kishore Kumar. Mehmood approached him for a role in any of his films. Kishore kumar, knowing Mehmood’s excellent sense of comedy, remarked that, “How can I cast someone who will compete with me”. To this Mehmood replied, “I will also cast you in my film one day”. He kept his words and cast Kishore Kumar in Padosan, which became Bollywood’s most enduring comedy film.
The movie is a light hearted comedy and tells the story of a simpleton named Bhola (Sunil Dutt). Bhola falls in love with his neighbor Bindu (Saira Banu) and woos her with a little help from his friend Guru (Kishore Kumar) and his team. Guru agrees to help his friend. To impress Bindu, Guru sings in the background and Bhola mouths the words. Bindu gets charmed by Bhola’s singing. She has a South Indian music teacher, Master Pillai (Mehmood), who is also in love with her. Bindu finally falls in love with Bhola and hence refuses Masterji. The rivalary between Mehmood and Sunil Dutt is among the highlights of the film. The song from the movie, ‘Ek chatur naar’ became a major hit. Besides this the film has beautiful melodies like, ‘Sharm ati hai’, ‘Bhai batur’etc.
Pyar Kiye Ja:
This film proved as a turning point in Mehmood’s career. It was released in 1966 and was directed by C.V Sridhar. It was also a remake of Tamil comedy Kaadalikka Neramillai. The film stars Kishore Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Mehmood, Om Prakash and Mumtaaz. The music was composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal. Although the film was a semi hit, but it gave Mehmood Filmfare Best Comedian Award.
The story of the film goes as, Ramlal (Om Prakash), leaves a wealthy lifestyle along with his daughters Malti (Kalpana) and Nirmala (Rajashri) and a son Atma (Mehmood). Atma wants his father to finance for his movie which he was producing under the banner of Wah Wah Production. He has also signed Ramlal’s estate manager’s daughter Meena Priyadarshini (Mumataz) as the lead actress. Ramlal hires an Assistant Manager, Ashok Verma (Shashi Kapoor) to look after his estate, but fires him when he misbehaves with his daughter. After some days an elderly person, Raj Bahadur Ganga Prasad comes to meet Ramlal. He introduces himself as Ashok’s father. Ramlal convince Raj Bahadur to get Ashok to marry to one of his daughter. Ashok decides to marry Nirmala. Another visitor, Devraj, Ramlal’s schoolmate comes to visit him and they end up fixing Malti’s marriage to Devraj’s son little knowing that Devraj’s son has gone missing and Raj Bahadur is not what he claims to be and Ashok is the son of a school teacher.
Mehmood’s scene with Om Prakash is the highlight of this film. The song ‘ o meri maina’ is a funny song picturised on Mehmood and Mumtaz.
Dil Tera Deewana:
This 1962 released film starred Shammi Kapoor, Mala Sinha, Mehmood, Pran and Om Prakash. It was this film which firmly established Mehmood as an actor. The film was directed by B.R Panthulu. The music was composed by Shankar Jaikishan. Mehmood received the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award for this film.
The story of the film goes as such. Disobedient Mohan (Shammi Kapoor) has sent by his dad Diwan Badriprasad to a retired army captain Dayaram (Om Prakash) to learn some discipline and respect. But Mohan keeps on switching to places with Anokhe (Mehmood) Mohan meets Meena (Mala Sinha) and falls in love with her while Anokhe is welcomed as Mohan by Captain and eventually Mohan falls in love with Dayaram’s daughter Malti (Shobha Khote). Things become more complicated when captain finds out that Anokhe is married to another woman and drives a rickshaw. Dayaram notifies police to arrest Mohan and they arrest three Mohan and then begin the real comedy.
The story moves as such, Bharti, wife of a playboy (Vinod Mehra), has a child. She was not able to raise the baby boy and leaves him outside of the temple. The baby boy was taken in by a rickshawallah (Mehmood). The boy develops polio and the rickshawallah feels bad when the doctor (Sanjeev Kumar) admonishes him. He takes care of the boy and loves him as his own. The boy’s real parents reconcile and turn to a police officer (Vinod Khanna) to help them finding their child. Finally the parents find their missing child, when the child grows 12 years old. The rickshawallah refuses to give the boy to his parents but policeman and the parent’s urges him to do so and he does it sorrowfully. But the boy comes and finds the rickshawallah dead. After his death, Mehmood, the actor gets up and explains the audience his death was for the camera but polio is real and deadly and people should get their children vaccinated.
The film was produced by Mehmood’s company and the story was of Mehmood. The film was released in 1965. It stars Mehmood, Tanuja, and R.D Burman. The music was composed by R.D Burman. This was the first film which saw the duo of Kishore Kumar and R.D Burman working together.
The story is a murder mystery. Bade Sarkar, Shyamlal and Ramlal were three sons of Kundanlal, a rich businessman. Bare Sarkar’s daughter Rekha (Tanuja) is the sole heir to the estate. When Rekha returns from England, she finds her father killed in motor accident and her uncle Ramlal (Nana Palsikar) commits suicide. To recover from this shock, Shyamlal (Nassir Hussain), Rekha’s only surviving uncle takes her to the city. But there Rekha is threatened by telephone that she will be the next one to die. The police too didn’t find any solution to this trouble. There enters Mohan Kumar (Mehmood), the leader of the youth club and tries to solve the mystery.
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