Renowned Hindi film actor Jagdeep died in Mumbai on Wednesday. He was 81. His survivors include his sons, the actor Jaaved Jaaferi and the television host and producer Naved Jafri.
Jagdeep was a crowd favourite for his comic timing, his ability to contort his face, and his skill at mimicking accents. He appeared in over 380 films between the 1950s and the early 2010s, such as Do Bigha Zamin (1953), Hum Panchhi Ek Daal Ke (1957), Brahmachari (1968), Khilona (1970), Agent Vinod (1977), Qurbani (1980), and Andaz Apna Apna (1994).
Among his best-loved parts was the tall-tale manufacturer Soorma Bhopali in Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay (1975).
Jagdeep was a screen name. He was born Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed Jafri on March 29, 1939. He first appeared in films as a child actor. He was the lead in a few productions, such as Bhabhi (1957), Barkha (1960) and Bindiya (1960), but later found his feet as a comic actor.
Jagdeep also appeared in the horror films of the Ramsay brothers, such as Purana Mandir (1984) and 3D Saamri (1985). His villainous roles include Ek Masoom (1969) and Mandir-Masjid (1977). He starred in the Rajasthani-language blockbuster Bai Chali Sasariye in 1988.
Among his children is the talented actor, dancer and comedian Jaaved Jaaferi, who like his father, is adept at impersonation and accents. Jagdeep’s Soorma Bhopali is one such character, formed out of exaggerating local behaviour.
In an interview to Mumbai Mirror in 2019, Jagdeep said, “I would encounter these colourful characters while travelling by train and bus, and at Irani hotels, and adapt them in my onscreen avatars.”
He was called upon to parody the character as Bankelal Bhopali, the father of Salman Khan’s protagonist, in Rajkumar Santoshi’s Andaz Apna Apna (1994), endearing himself to a new generation.
Several personalities from the film industry and fans offered tributes to Jagdeep.