I was invited by Speakers Den Toastmasters, Bangalore to speak on humor and the theme was Bollywood. I recollected my growing-up years and recounted my favourites. It may be pre-historic for Gen Y and zoomers but what to do, this is my story😎🤪
All images have been sourced through google search
Inder Sen Johar or I S Johar. A cerebral comedian. Much before watching his movies I’d become a fan of his ‘Question Box’ column in Filmfare. His witty answers to whacky questions from readers were a refreshing read in those conservative days. His triple role in Johny Mera Naam won him an award. He relied on barbs and witticisms instead of slapstick.
Keshto Mukherjee. I don’t think anyone has perfected the role of a drunk like Keshto. And the irony was he was a teetotaller in real life. His popping eyes, muffled dialogue delivery and the angular walk made him an endearing alcoholic😎
Mehmood. His comedy was universal. His role as a Tamil nattuvanar or dance master in Padosan was a massive hit even in the then Madras state or Tamilnadu. While there were pockets of protest, Tamils largely enjoyed his act. The song ek chatur naar went on to become a super chart buster. Apart from comedy he emoted well and proved his versatility in movies like Kunwara Baap and Sabse Bada Rupaya. An entertainer par excellence!
Asrani. While his ‘angrezo ke zamane ka jailor’ role in Sholay remains an iconic character, my favourite is Choti si Baat, a cute urban love story about a middle class hero Amol Palekar trying to win the affection of Vidya Sinha. Asrani plays kabab me haddi or spoilsport in an irritatingly funny way.
Johnny Lever. His forte was facial contortions. Without uttering a word he would leave you howling with laughter. As an absent-minded family retainer in Baazigar, he shot into prominence but it is ‘Kaho Na Pyar Hai’ that is my top of the chart hit. As a constable in a police station, he struggles to control his bladder even as the only toilet in the premises is always occupied. I watch this episode even today to tide over my morose moments.
Manorama. While comediennes were rare except Tun Tun who was body shamed most of the time, I remember the plump Manorama in Seeta aur Geeta whose ‘neeche aao beti’ made memorable copy.
I didn’t find any of them nauseatingly vulgar or cheap. I raise a toast to these remarkable celluloid icons who bring cheer to countless fans all over. Watch their movies, you have nothing to lose except your drudgery and sorrow!