The concept of comedians has come into Indian cinema long ago and it has become well implied in commercial films. However, nowadays offbeat films also have implicit comedy in it. Indian film industry possesses many talented and unforgettable comedians, working in different regional films.
Bollywood, since its inception, has produced sizable number of talented comedians who have essayed memorable characters in the Hindi films. While humour was only used as a relief in the Hindi films but later with time it developed as a separate genre. In the contemporary film industry the movies of comic genre are attracting audience in large numbers.
One of the greatest Bollywood comedians of all times would be Johnny Walker who has acted in around 300 movies. He was introduced to the silver screen by Guru Dutt (Indian film director, producer and actor). Johnny Walker was born as Badruddin Jamaluddin Kazi. Most of the films of Guru Dutt featured him. But two of his most memorable films were CID (1956) and Pyaasa (1957).
Johnny Walker's facial gimmicks and antics won him applause from the audience as well as from his directors. His first film was Guru Dutt's Baazi. Some of his others films are Aar Paar (1954), Mr and Mrs 55 (1955), Naya Daur (1957), Madhumati (1958), Amar Deep (1958), Kaagaz ke Phool (1959), Satta Bazaar (1959), Basant (1960), Chaudhvin ka Chand (1960), Mere Mehboob (1963), Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi (1966), Shaan (1980), Bindiya Chamkegi (1984) and others.
Mehmood was in every way the king of comedy in the 1960s. Mehmood Ali was the comedy czar in Indian film industry. He started his career as a comedian when comedy was still in a nascent stage in Bollywood. Humour came spontaneously to Mehmood. That was the reason why he went onto become one of the greatest comedians of the silver screen.
His films were rather remembered for his comic timings rather than the leading men and women. Mehmood was so popular that it was reported that even heroes would decline to work with him because of the fear of being overshadowed by his hilarious performance. His first major break came with the film Parvarish in 1958. His comic timing, inimitable style and the flair to bring versatility made him popular with the audience. He has also starred in movies like Gumnam, Pyar Kiye Jaa, Saanjh aur Savera, Pyar Hi Pyar, Love in Tokyo, Dil Tera Diwana, Bhoot Bangla, Sangharsh, Ziddi, Bombay to Goa, Humjoli, and others. But one film for which Mehmood will always be remembered is Padosan. The film also starred Kishore Kumar, Sunil Dutt and Saira Banu. This rib tickling comic film was a hit. By 1970s Mehmood was ruling the comic arena of Bollywood.
Inderjeet Singh Johar
Inderjeet Singh Johar better known as I. S. Johar was another Bollywood comedian, who was also the contemporary of Mehmmod. Together they starred in films, such as Namasteji, Johar-Mehmood in Goa and Johar-Mehmood in Hong Kong.
He also starred in films with his own surname in the title such as Mera Naam Johar, Johar in Kashmir and Johar in Bombay. He was popular among the masses for guaranteeing easy laughs, as well as subtle ironic or frankly sarcastic jibes at Indian customs, mores, superstitions and institutions.
Johar's other films include Teesri Aankh (1982), Gopichand Jasoos (1982), Raaz (1981), Trimurti (1980), Death on the Nile (1978), Mazdoor Zindabaad (1976), Banarasi Babu, Ganga Ki Saugandh, Johny Mera Naam (1970), Pavitra Paapi, Chhoti Bahu, Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya (1966), Harry Black (1958) and others.
Rajendra Nath was also famous for his comic roles. He was a regular in the films of Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor. His funny gimmicks always made the audience break into peels of laughter. He was seen in films such as, Dil Deke Dekho, Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai, Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon, Teesri Manzil, Baharon Ke Sapne, Pyar Ka Mausam, An Evening in Paris and others.
The 1980s saw a number of comic stars on the horizon and one of them were Govardhan Asrani, more popular as Asrani. He is still active today and has starred in comic flicks, such as, Malamaal Weekly, Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Garam Masala, Dhamaal and others.
Asrani was a popular comedian but he has also been seen in supporting roles as well in films like Abhimaan, Chupke Chupke, Khushboo, Musafir and others. His small role in Sholay as the jailor is still fresh in people's minds. He has also been felicitated with Filmfare Award for best comedian for the films Aaj Ki Taaza Khabar (1973) and Balika Badhu (1976).
Utpal Dutt was primarily a theatre personality and undoubtedly one of the most versatile actors that the sub continent had produced. He did many villainous roles with his characteristic comic tinge. He made a striking film debut as the hero in Michael Madhusudan in 1950, and attracted national attention as the eponymous rail officer in Mrinal Sen's Bhuvan Shome in 1969. This was followed by the pornographer in Ritwik Ghatak's Jukti takko ar gappo, the businessman in Satyajit Ray's Jana Aranya i.e. 'Middleman' and many others. His spellbinding comic role was in the film Golmaal. His movies, till date, are termed as timeless classics and include Naram Garam, Guddi, Kisi Se Na Kehna and others.
Kader Khan has played myriad characters ranging from negative roles to comedy on screen in his career spanning almost four decades. He has been nominated several times as Best Comedian for films such as Himmatwala, Sikka, Main Khiladi Tu Anari, Coolie No. 1, Dulhe Raja etc. Besides comedian, he has also enacted the character of father, uncle, brother, main villain or the side villain and guest actor. Kader Khan is regarded as a legend in Hindi cinema.
Shakti Kapoor is one of the most able actors to grace the Bollywood screen as a villain as well as comedian. He was born on 3rd September 1958. He has done around 413 films in his whole film career. Kapoor is one of the few Bollywood actors who played the role of villain with a comic touch with equal ‚lan. He had been often nominated for the Filmfare Award in the most comic performance category. Some of the movies where he enacted the role of a comedian include Insaaf, Baap Numbri Beta Dus Numbri, Andaz Apna Apna, Chaalbaaz, Bol Radha Bol etc. But his notable performances include Nandu of the David Dhawan masterpiece Raja Babu.
Johny Lever is one of the most popular comedians of the Indian film industry. He was born on 14th August 1956 as John Rao in the village of Amkam in the Prakasam district, in Andhra Pradesh. The journey to stardom is like a fairy tale to the extremely talented actor Johnny Lever. With his short stature and dark complexion he went on to create history in the genre of comedy. His sense of comic timing was inborn. He has acted in more than 300 Bollywood films and received 13 Filmfare Awards nominations in Best Comedian Category.
Govinda was one of the renowned mainstream heroes who portrayed comic characters with ease. Teaming up with Dhawan he delivered some of the biggest comic flicks in the 1990s and 2000. Some of these films have also been termed as slapstick. However the masses loved them. Films, such as, Dulhe Raja, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, Haseena Maan Jayeegi, Jodi No.1, Partner and others were runaway hits. Such movies also featured Kadar Khan and Johnny Lever. For Haseena Maan Jayegi he grabbed the Filmfare Best Comedian Award.
Another popular actor who is mind-blowing in comic roles is Paresh Rawal. The actor who hails from the state of Gujarat has an amazing sense of comic timing. Making his film debut in 1984, Rawal mainly played the supporting and villainous roles throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Since 2000, he has mostly played comic roles. Apart from being a part of the crew in David Dhawan's films, he has become a regular face in Priyadarshan's Hindi comedy films. Hera Pheri, Awara Paagal Deewana, Phir Hera Pheri, Malamaal Weekly, Garam Masala, Fool n Final, Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Mere Baap Pehle Aap, Welcome and several other films. Although he has starred in various films but it was his role as the crazy Baburao in Hera Pheri that earned him all the applause as a comic actor.
Rajpal Yadav is another prolific comedian in Hindi films. He hails from the Shahjahanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. He has an excellent fan base in India. In 2005 he played the leading role and wrote the screenplay for the film; Main Mere Patni Aur Woh that got him positive reviews. Yadav earned great applaud for his comic roles in movies like Hungama, Waqt: The Race against Time, Malamaal Weekly and Chup Chup Ke.
Arshad Warshi, another Bollywood actor, is famous for his comic roles. He started his acting career with the film Tere Mere Sapne in 1996 and later appeared in various other films but none was that successful in box office. It was his character as a comedian in Rajkumar Hirani's Munnabhai MBBS and Lage Raho Munnabhai that earned him success in the film industry. Here in these movies, he enacted the famous part "circuit". Even in films like Hulchul and Golmal he did a fantastic role.
Boman Irani also deserves special mention for his contribution in the comic genre of Indian cinema. He has appeared in various films as comedian including Main Hoon Na, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Dostana, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Waqt: The Race Against Time, No Entry, 3 Idiots, Housefull, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, Housefull 2 etc. His role as J. Asthana in the movie Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. earned him a Filmfare Award nomination for Best Comedian.
Offbeat actors in Comic Roles
Offbeat actors such as, Vinay Pathak, Ranvirr Shorey and Rajat Kapoor have also explored this genre. One of film that needs to be mentioned here is Bheja Fry.
Lead Actors in Comic Roles
Gauging the trend of the contemporary film industry the lead actors have also made their foray into the comic genre. Sanjay Dutt, Akshay Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Suniel Shetty, Bobby Deol, Akshaye Khanna, Rahul Bose, Ajay Devgan, Riteish Deshmukh and others from time to time tried their hands in the comedy films.
Lead Actresses in Comic Roles
The female actors are in no way lagging behind the male actors as far as comedy is concerned. Shobha Khote teamed up with Mehmood to entertain the audience. She was also part of some of the Hrishikesh Mukherjee films like Golmaal with Utpal Dutt, Amol Palekar and Bindiya Goswami. The later cinema witnessed leading actresses like Juhi Chawla, Kajol, Karisma Kapoor, Raveena Tandon, Rani Mukherji, Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor, Tabu and other actresses in comic roles.