Mumbai: Veteran actor Jagdeep’s had the ability to instantly connect with people from every strata of society through his comedy. It is this trait of Jagdeep that is son Jaaved Jaaferi loves the most. Jagdeep passed away at the age of 81 earlier this month. However, he did not have a formal education, but was fond of poetry and history.
Jaaved Jaaferi remembers his father’s early struggle. He said Jagdeep entered the world of cinema to earn a living at a young age but gave it his ‘full attention and focus’.
Jagdeep’s real name was Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed Jaffrey. He transitioned to comedy in Hindi cinema after working as a child actor and lead hero.
Jaaved recalled an incident when a film critic called Jagdeep’s comedy ‘loud and garish’. It upset Jaaved but his father dismissed the criticism. “He told me ‘my audience is that 80 per cent of India which lives through poverty. These people are simple and just want to laugh. They don’t want complex things. I work for that simple man’. My dad was a people person and his objective was to bring laughter to his audience,” Jaaved said.
Calling his father’s outlook towards life ‘spiritual’, Jaaved said Jagdeep never spoke ill about anyone. The actor said his father loved the cinema of Bimal Roy and Guru Dutt as their films were entertaining while retaining their depth. However, that character started to erode in the 1970s with actors taking up 10 to 15 films simultaneously.
“The producer or the director would tell my father, ‘the scene is not written but you are Jagdeep and you can do anything!’. What could he do? He was brilliant at improvising. He would keep the context same, but make it funnier with the lines he came up with,” Jaaved informed.
The Boogie Woogie star also recalled his father’s fondness for poetry and the stories he told his children. Jagdeep used to frequently meet literary greats like Saadat Hasan Manto, Sahir Ludhianvi and Javed Akhtar’s poet father Jan Nisar Akhtar.
“My father loved poets and poetry like (Mirza Ghalib’s) Deewan-e-Ghalib’, Faiz (Faiz Ahmed Faiz) sahab and others. He was fond of reading history but not the one that is taught in schools… Even though he wasn’t educated, he attempted and always wanted to gain knowledge in whatever way he could,” informed Jaaved
“He would observe people from the streets and the way they spoke while he lived on the streets as a child. That gave him a lot for his performances,” added Jaaved.
However Jaaved pointed out that lack of proper scripts troubled Jagdeep. “As a comedian, you are limited if the scenes are not written. When he did Sholay, he was very happy as he saw a well-written script and character. Jagdeep played the role of ‘Soorma Bhopali’ in Sholay.
Jaaved said he was moved by the outpouring of love from the industry and his fans for his father, who left behind a memorable legacy of 70 years in Hindi cinema.