100 years of Bollywood: Character actors we miss
We look at some unheralded actors who played their part in making movies memorable
David Abraham Cheulkar
David Abraham Cheulkar (1909 - December 28, 1981), popularly known as David, was a Jewish-Indian actor.
In a career spanning four decades, he played mostly character roles, in over 110 films, including memorable ones like Gol Maal (1979) and Baton Baton Mein (1979). Thanks to his short stature and cherubic face, he was seen portraying paternal roles.
Iftekhar (February 22, 1920 - March 4, 1995) was a character actor in Bollywood films, especially known for his roles as police officers.
He made his acting debut in 1937 with the film Qazzak Ki Ladki and went on to act in over 400 films in a career. Most films in the past were notorious for showing the police force arriving at the crime scene after the hero had annihilated the villain. And more often than not, it would be Iftekhar in uniform!
Tun Tun (1 January 1923 – 24 November 2003) was the screen name of Indian playback singer and actress-comedienne, Uma Devi Khatri, who is often called the first woman comedienne of Hindi cinema.
Tun Tun was born in a conservative South Indian family. After the premature death of her parents when she was 13, she moved to Mumbai and knocked on musician Naushad’s door. The rest is history.
Mukri (5 January 1922 – 4 September 2000) was an actor who worked as a comedian in Hindi films.
Born as Muhammad Umar Mukri in Alibagh, he started his film career with Pratima along with noted film actor Dilip Kumar in 1945. Mukri, with his toothless smile, diminutive stature and perfect humor timing, amused the audiences in more than 600 films over six decades in Bollywood.
Ajit (27 January 1922 - 22 October 1998) was known as a popular villain of Bollywood movies.
Liked for his stylish and peculiar delivery of dialogue, his famous catch phrases--"Mona darling, smart boy", "Lili don't be silly", "Mona loot lo sona" became a rage. He also played a second lead in Mughal-e-Azam and Naya Daur.
Nirupa Roy (4 January 1931 – 13 October 2004) was an Indian actress who was mostly known for portraying character roles of the Indian mother.
She played leading roles in her early films and started playing mother roles during the ’70s and ’80s. Her acting career spanned more than 50 years and she acted in more than 475 films. She was referred to as the "Queen of Misery" in Hindi film circles.
Johnny Walker (11 November 1926 – 29 July 2003) acted in over 300 movies. After moving to Mumbai, he worked as a conductor in BEST buses.
His first screen test consisted of acting as a drunk which he did it so well that Guru Dutt gave him the screen name Johnny Walker after the famous Scotch whisky brand. Even though he’s remembered for playing “drunk” characters, he was a thorough teetotaler.
Manorama (died in 2008) was best known for her role as the comical tyrant mother in Seeta Aur Geeta (1972). She had a long career extending over 60 years from her debut in 1941 to her final role in Water (2005).
Through her career she acted in over 160 films. After playing heroine roles in the early ‘40s, she settled into playing villainous and/or comic roles.
Mehmood (29 September 1932 – 23 July 2004) was not only popular for his comic roles, but was also a director and a producer. During his career of more than four decades, he worked in over 300 Hindi films.
He started off by doing insignificant roles in films like Do Bigha Zameen and Pyaasa. He later went on to act in lead roles, but he was appreciated for his comedy some of which was delivered in the Hyderabadi Urdu accent.
K N Singh
KN Singh (1 September 1908 – 31 January 2000) was a prominent villain of Hindi films.
After giving up his career as a lawyer in 1937 to get into films, he found himself portraying a gentlemanly type of villain, usually of a mafia don, costumed in a fine suit and hat and smoking a pipe. His career spanned six decades and included over 200 films.