Just think of Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed Jaffrey aka Jagdeep, the pan chewing Soorma Bhopali from Sholay flashes with that tongue and cheek one liner especially ‘Aise Kaise Piase and of course ‘Hamara Naam Soorma Bhopali Aise Hi Nahi Hai” ya toh “Ke Jaane Kaha Kaha Se Aa Jate Hai (my personal favourite). Incredible!! One scene and one liner one after the another all memorable.
During the retro era when the world of comedians was ruled by Mehmood, yes Asrani, Deven Verma Keshto Mukherjee, Shobha Khote, Dhumal, I.S. Johar etc etc where there but Mehmood stood taller then anyone. Not counting powerhouse like Kishore Kumar and later superstars like Amitabh Bachchan who turned good comedians as well.
Jagdeep had that rare quality to turn hilarious at a snap. His dialogue delivery became a good weapon for mimicry and stand up artiste in India. Astonishingly, Jagdeep hardly needed a cracking script every time to explode laughter on screen.
Camera was enough for this funny man of Bollywood a victim of partition who came to Mumbai and was forced to work at an age of 8. Selling petty stuffs on street, working as a waiter and even pulling a handcart (Haath Gaadi). Spotted by B.R. Chopra, Jagdeep started working as an extra. When asked whether he will do, he said he needs work that’s it.
Jagdeep featured in many of memorable movies of those era – Zia Sarhad’s Footpath (1953), Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zameen (1953), Guru Dutt’s Aar-Paar (1954), K A Abbas’ Munna (1954), Raj Kapoor produced Ab Dilli Door Nahin (1957) and Hum Panchhi Ek Daal Ke (1957). Though Hum Panchhi Ek Daal Ke (1957) won the Best Children’s Film trophy at the National Awards and it became a favourite of the then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Such was the impact that Panditji presented Jagdeep his personal staff.
However, for this author it’s the elaichi of Guru Dutt’s classic musical Aar Paar that stamped the presence of Jagdeep in mind and heart. Jagdeep’s personal experiences as a street child came handy in his portrayal of elaichi and other roles such roles.
Jagdeep had a short stint as a leading man and tasted success with Bhabhi (1957) co-starring Nanda. Veterans remember the song ‘Chali chai re patang meri’, and ‘Chal ud ja re pancchi. Many may not know but one of Rafi’s most soothing romantic number “Pass baitho tabiyat behel jayegi’ from Punar Milan is filmed on him and Ameeta.
Jagdeep later shifted to comedian and gained limelight as Murli Manohar in Brahmachari (1968) starring Shammi Kapoor and Mumtaz.
Apart from Soorma Bhopali, Jagdeep will be remembered for that hilarious Muhammed Ali in Qurbani. Masterji in Phool Aur Kaante (1992) the debut of Ajay Devgn and Salman Khan’s father in Andaz Apna Apna (1994).
Jagdeep is followed by sons Javed and Naved. While Javed is a gifted dancer, actor and a super comedian, Naved is said to be the brain behind India’s first major dance show on Television Boogie Woogie.
Naved has been quoted earlier that his father Jagdeep had no plans of launching his sons in the industry. He wanted them to grow on merit.
A significant statement amidst all these nepotism row surrounding Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.
Jagdeep died at the age of 81. Due to age related issues and has a body of work of around 400 movies.
Will always be remembered for Soorma Bhoplai. The memorable character has now become immortal.
Jagdeep was a good dancer and singer as well. We could have had more of him as a comedian and more as an artiste. A good human who had a close eye on what is happening in Bollywood comedies.
Filmmaker like Anees Bazmee in an interview said to me that the compliment received from Jagdeep from him is his best cherished memories. “ Mehmood, Jhonny Walker and Jagdeep. I am in touch with Jagdeep Bhai and he keeps on saying that he looks forward for my movies. They are genuine entertainers. It’s a huge huge compliment for me.”.
What an irony, Bollywood greatest comedians/entertainers Mehmood, Jhonny Walker and Jagdeep all have left us in the month of July.
The year 2020 has been cursed especially for the Bollywood film industry, we have legends like Rishi Kapoor, an actor par excellence like Irrfan Khan, a heartthrob like Sushant Singh Rajput, dance master like Saroj Khan to name a few.
Perhaps, the heaven is also sad and need some cheering up so Jagdeep aka Soorma Bhopali is being called. May be Mehmood and Jhonny Walker are missing him or running out of gags. Naam Soorma Bhopali Aise Hi Nahi Hai Samjhe”..
I conclude with this song from his movie that is humming in my mind since I have heard the sad news
Pass baitho tabiyat behel jayegi. maut bhi aa gayi ho tal jayegi. Par maut kaise tal sakti hai, Zindagi kaha rukti hai.. Ud Gaya Re Pancchi..Hasa hasa kar..
RIP Jagdeep may your soul rest in peace.