Mumbai: Veteran actor-comedian Jagdeep, best known for his role as ‘Soorma Bhopali’ in Sholay, was laid to rest at a cemetery here. Comedian Jagdeep’s family and close friends were present at the funeral. Jagdeep, 81, died Wednesday night at his residence in suburban Mumbai.
There was around 10-12 people in attendance, including sons, actor Jaaved, producer Naved, grandson Meezaan. Also present was industry colleague Johnny Lever.
Close to 400 films in kitty
From a child artiste to lead actor and then comic icon, Jagdeep appeared in around 400 films. But it was his role as ‘Soorma Bhopali’ that is etched in audience’s minds even today. Jagdeep also directed a movie Soorma Bhopali with his character as the protagonist.
Initially chosen for lead role in Mother India
Before Sunil Dutt played Birju, the rebellious young man-turned-bandit in Mother India, it was Jagdeep who was supposed play the role. This information was provided by writer-filmmaker Rumi Jaffery.
Jaffery, directed Jagdeep in two films Life Partner and Gali Gali Chor Hai. He recounted the anecdote which he heard from director Mehboob Khan’s recordist ‘Pandu Dada’.
“Mehboob Khan’s recordist Pandu dada had once told me that when Mother India was being made the role ‘of Birju’ was earlier played by Jagdeep bhai. I was stunned when I heard this,” Jaffery said.
Jagdeep even shot for the Nargis-starrer for a few days. However, director Mehboob Khan felt his intensity wasn’t convincing enough. So Sunil Dutt eventually landed the part in the 1957 film.
Confirmation of story
“Later when I asked Jagdeep bhai about it he said he was offered the role and he even shot for it for few days. But Mehboob Khan felt the anger wasn’t coming on his face. Then Sunil Dutt was cast,” the writer said.
“No one would ever believe that Jagdeep bhai was earlier cast as Birju. I wanted to record this anecdote. Sadly, he isn’t with us anymore,” he added.
Close family ties
Jaffery, first met Jagdeep when he was shooting for his 1988 directorial Soorma Bhopali. He said his relationship with the actor was beyond work.
“He (Jagdeep) was like family to me. Before coming to Mumbai from Bhopal, I had stayed at his house for a few days. He was warm and loving. He had the image of a comedian onscreen but in real life he was a serious, thoughtful man,” said Jaffrey.
Jaffery said Jagdeep would often improvise his dialogues lending a rhyme to the writing. “Earlier when actors were busy doing multiple films there would be other people dubbing for them. However, Jagdeep bhai’s dialogue delivery was such that no one could dub for him. Only he could do it,” Jaffery pointed out.
He also cited the example of a scene from the 1981 film Kaalia. In the film Jagdeep played a car dealer to the titular con man (played by Amitabh Bachchan). Jaffery said it was a masterclass in acting.
“In the scene, he (Jagdeep) and Amitabh Bachchan on a test drive. He is driving on full speed, the door of the car and everything else gets damaged. In the scene, Jagdeep bhai had to give his reaction to what is happening. He later told me how in dubbing he recreated the scene in his distinctive way that it became one of the highlights of the movie,” informed Jaffery.