Hamaara Naam Bhi Soorma Bhopali Ese Hi Nahin Hai!
… samajh rahe ho na miya? Kisse sunaayein aapko Soorma Bhopali ke? Ese wese nahin the, the most beloved soorma ki life ke kisse! Ladies and gentlemen, presenting some pages from the life and times of the soorma we all love – Jagdeep!
Comedy has always been an essential part of our cinema… there was a time when comedy roles where written for actors (read comedians) and there was a comedy track that ran parallel to the main story. Comedy was catharsis; it was a break from the otherwise monotonous narration. It brought smiles, laughter and told the audience that there was more to life than the everyday humdrum. Comedy also gave birth to a crop of actors who could do the most difficult part. They could make others laugh while laughing at themselves! These actors ‘graduated’ to being character actors, heroes and villains too but they never forgot to touch people’s hearts effortlessly.
Jagdeep was one such actor. The roles he played, the characters he essayed, they were played with such sincerity, it was almost like they were an extension of him. I have loved him in Do Bigha Zameen, Andaz Apna Apna and of course, Sholay and have always thought… no wait! I am jumping the gun. Let us start from where it all started.
Post partition India had unsettled the otherwise normal childhood of 9-year-old Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed Jaffery, a.k.a Jagdeep, forcing him to leave his ancestral home and come to Mumbai (then Bombay) with his mother. Once in Mumbai, Jagdeep started taking up odd jobs to help his mother who worked as a cook in an orphanage. But then, they don’t call Mumbai, the ‘City of Dreams’ for no reason! Once during a job, on the street, he met a man (Yash Chopra, a casting director then) who offered him a role in a film. Jagdeep who had no idea what a film is asked the man, ‘vo kya hota hai?’ ‘Kitne paise milenge?’ to which the man replied, ‘Poore teen rupaye’! Three rupees, a big sum back then, was a lucrative offer!
The next day both the son and mother were present at the shoot of B. R.Chopra’s Afsana. At the time of shoot Jagdeep was graduated from just being an audience in a play to that of the ‘durbaan’ because of his command over ‘Urdu’, his mother tongue. In a day, he had earned six rupees instead of the three that he was promised. That was Jagdeep’s debut in Bollywood. Something that began as another odd job was the beginning of a career!
What do I love about this movie? Apart from the fact that this movie gave Bollywood Jagdeep, it had ‘Baby’ Tabassum playing the young heroine and with what conviction!
One role lead to another and it was Phani Majumdar’s Dhobi Doctor that got Jagdeep noticed as a child actor. He played the young Kishore Kumar in the film. What got him noticed was the conviction with which he played a poor boy who loses his elder sister to poverty (poverty being one of the prevalent themes of those times). Jagdeep had to shed tears in almost every scene and he managed to do this without the use of glycerin!
What do I love about this movie? This movie got Jagdeep in the ‘big’ league. He played a young Kishore Kumar and years later in Khilona Kishore da gave the playback for him!
Do Bigha Zameen
Bimal Roy noticed Jagdeep in Dhobi Doctor and offered him the role of Laalu Ustaad in Do Bigha Zameen. Laalu Ustaad, was the street smart, happy-go-lucky, shoe shine boy. Jagdeep who had done serious roles till date was an unusual choice for the role of the ‘comedian’ Laalu Ustaad. Bimal da thought, ‘jo rula sakta hai, vo hasaa bhi sakta hai’!
My personal favorite is the introduction scene between Laalu Ustaad and Kanhaiyya (child actor Rattan Kumar). It is simple, funny and deep. All at the same time. Jagdeep’s character is the personification of the song, ‘Que sara sara, whatever will be, will be… the future’s not ours to see…’
In Guru Dutt’s Aar Paar as Elaichi Sandow, Jagdeep was a part of another hit film and a hit song – the title song of the movie. In this ‘romantic’ number, he is one of the three urchins who are troubling Shyama, the heroine of the movie by insisting to dance around and on her car!
As Elaichi Sandow in the film, Jagdeep yet again portrays the carefree soul, without a care in the world and a sort of guardian angel to Guru Dutt, the hero of the film. He could have very well been what ‘Gerenimo the cricket’ was to ‘Pinochhio’ but for the ‘innocent rougish’ side to him!
What I love about this song? Apart from the fact that it made it to number 12 in the Binaca Geetmala final of 1954 is Jagdeep’s trousers! They have the right patch at the right place! Bum-chik-chik-bum!
From a junior artist to a child actor, Jagdeep had taken the big leap, that of a hero in the film Bhabhi, where he was paired against Nanda. The film went on to become the highest grosser of the year 1957. The songs were a big hit too. Especially, the song ‘Chali Chali re patang’ featuring Jagdeep and Nanda, which happens to be a personal ‘Rafi-Lata duet’ favorite!
What is it that you must watch it for? Kite flying skills! I bet you can’t sing and fly a kite the way Jagdeep and Nanda fly one, in the song!
This Sanjeev Kumar-Mumtaaz film had Jagdeep in a prominent role. Jagdeep provided the much needed comic relief in the film and every time Jagdeep was on screen he tickled the audience’s funny bone. Though Jagdeep was shown as a comedian in the feature, he has perhaps one of the most important lines that is progressive even from today’s standards.
In the movie, when Sanjeev Kumar’s mother (Durga Khote) talks about Mumtaaz who is a nautch girl, unfit to be her daughter-in-law, despite the fact that she agrees to marry an insane Sanjeev Kumar, Jagdeep reasons, ‘Jab bhagwaan ne ek mochi ke ghar janm liya tha, to tab kya vo mochi ban gaye the?’ Full marks to Aghajani Kashmeri for penning the dialogues and to Jagdeep for the conviction with which he delivers it!
It came as no surprise when Jagdeep was nominated in the category of Best Comic Actor for this film in the 18th Filmfare Awards. It was a tough one between Jagdeep for Khilona, I.S.Johar for Johnny Mera Naam’and Mehmood for Humjoli. I.S. Johar won it for ‘JMN’! Had I been born then, I would have surely crossed my fingers behind my back for Jagdeep!
Here, I am sharing the link to a fun song from the film… cheesy if you actually ask me… but definitely fun! Don’t miss Jagdeep grooving at 0:58!
This scene with Jagdeep had the ‘oomphomatic’ Zeenat Aman and the heartbreakingly handsome Vinod Khanna and yet it is Jagdeep who steals the show. Jagdeep plays an aspiring boxer who is stuck in a bad job (like most of us…). It is a short comic scene with Jagdeep rolling his eyes, climbing atop fans, panting and gasping and mumbling his one-liners, the way only he can! Please note, the scene also has Mohd Ali playing himself… no matter even if it is just a poster!
Why do I love this scene? Simply because it says, go out there and do what you want. Dream, love, live!
Andaaz Apna Apna
In one of the cult films of all times, Jagdeep played the role of Salman Khan’s father. Taking his name from the character of ‘Soorma Bhopali’ that he played in Sholay, he was named Bankelal Bhopali in this film. This scene between Mehmood and Jagdeep is a must watch simply for its comic timing and to know what effortless comedy means.
What I love most about this scene? The dialogue when Jagdeep tells Mehmood, ‘bolti bandh hote suna hoga, main teri sunti bandh kar doonga’!!! I am still ROFL!
I was saving the big one for last. Let me write in all caps: SHOLAY! That’s how I see the film, that’s what Jagdeep’s character was in the movie – big and bold!
In a film where each character was cult and each dialogue was worth a quote, Jagdeep’s ‘Soorma Bhopali’ was no exception! The ease with which Jagdeep portrayed this character, made it synonymous to him. The way he dressed, the way he spoke in the Bhopali ‘lehja’, the way he rolled his eyes, nobody could have done it better!
And come to think of it, Jagdeep had almost rejected the role of ‘Soorma Bhopali’. The Sippy’s had not paid Jagdeep his balance amount for the film Brahmachaari and Jagdeep didn’t want to do another role in their film. It was only on Salim-Javed’s insistence that Jagdeep did the role that was to become the most iconic of all the roles he played!
Waise, the real Soorma Bhopali was based on Nahar Singh from Bhopal. Nahar Singh was Javed Akhtar’s classmate when he was a student at Bhopal’s Saifia College. Javed loved Nahar’s antics and mannerisms and made sure that Soorma Bhopali had them all. The only difference, albeit a big one, was that Nahar was nothing like Soorma. He was known to be ‘doston ka dost’ and would go to any extent for his friends. Once the movie was released, Nahar was hurt at the way his character was portrayed even though Soorma Bhopali was one of the cult characters of all times!
What I love about Soorma Bhopali? His dialogue, ‘ese kese pese?!’ This has always been my line when my sister would come asking for the money that she had lent me in my ‘oh-I-am-so-broke days’!
That was the Soorma all of us love! The most loved Soorma of all times!
– Shilpa Varma
(Shilpa is a wife, mother, (closet) writer, traveler, juggler, reader, movie buff all at the same time… and yes, she has a point of view… no matter if its only on days that end with a ‘Y’)
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