On the 83rd birth anniversary of comic genius Mehmood, we offer a tribute
He danced, he sang and he acted... but no matter what he did, this great comedian ended up making his audience double up in laughter each time, and on some occasions, soon after he had made his appearance in a scene.
In spite of rarely playing the lead role, he was a superstar alright. His name helped producers sell more tickets and his picture on the poster ensured that scores turned up at the theatres. Such was the effect of this young, funny man and his self-effacing easy humour that it is said that some male stars of his time were insecure about sharing screen space with him.
Helen and Mehmood in 'Gumnaam' (1965)
The sixties belonged to this mad, mad man who was so effortless that sometimes it'd seem like he had forgotten that he was in front of the camera. There was a time when his presence in films was imperative for the film to do well at the box office.
Shammi Kapoor and Mehmood in 'Dil Tera Diwana' (1962)
He must be one of the few comedians who managed to deliver box-office hits with some films riding solely on his shoulders. A case in point is Do Phool where he played the double role of Chuttan and Phuttan with much aplomb.
Dhumal with the actor in 'Ziddi' (1964)
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Mehmood was not just a laugh-a-minute comedian. This intelligent man went on to make some sensitive films like Ginni Aur Johnny and Kunwara Baap. We speak to some new-age comedians to tell us about their impression of this one-time phenomenon...
Quote unquote: "How can anyone forget the scenes from 'Padosan'? This great actor represented the prototype of the comedy genre. I have watched this film at least 30 times and that guy was insane. You could see that there is this really funny man who seemed to be totally enjoying himself. He clearly was having a blast on screen and that was infectious. He had this wicked twinkle in his eyes. He starred in two of the funniest films made in Hindi: Padosan and Andaz Apna Apna. I remember about nine years ago when I was writing the script for The Great Indian Show on television, most of our references would come from Mehmood's scenes. To think that even after so many years the man brings a smile to our faces is an amazing achievement. My favourite scene, of course, is the jugalbandi (duet) between him and Kishore Kumar in Padosan. But I also loved one of the other scenes where he is arguing with Kishore Kumar. It was pure comedy gold."
Quote unquote: "One can learn from Mehmood how to be easy, effortless, natural and impactful. He had an amazing connect with the audiences. He believed in what he did. And he did it on his own terms. He will always live on in our hearts. I loved his comic timing, especially the scene where he narrates a ghost story to Om Prakash in the film, Pyar Kiye Jaa."
Quote unquote: "He was called the king of comedy by the media and that was so well-deserved. He had this one-to-one connection with the audiences. He would give them the feeling that he was one of them; people would watch films just to catch his comedy track. So many of his movies have classic comedy scenes that will remain funny forever. My favourite scene is the one from Pyar Kiye Jaa, where he is narrating a ghost story to Om Prakash. While Mehmood was obviously brilliant, the reaction from another comic genius, Om Prakash, just made that scene magical. My first film, Hey Baby, was hugely inspired from his film, Kunwara Baap. It was a classic film that married comedy with pathos. One minute you are smiling and the next minute, you have tears in your eyes. His specialty was that he cracked a lot of impromptu jokes and that brought the audiences closer to him. He was truly a genius."