Veteran actor Jagdeep’s ability to instantly connect with people from every strata of society through his comedy is what Jaaved Jaaferi loves the most about his father.
Jagdeep, who passed away at the age of 81 earlier this month, did not have a formal education, but he was fond of poetry and history.
Remembering his father’s early struggle, Jaaved told PTI that Jagdeep entered the world of cinema to earn a living at a young age but gave it his “full attention and focus”.
Jagdeep, whose real name was Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed Jaffrey, 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'. He was a people person and his objective was to bring laughter to his audience,” Jaaved said in the interview.
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, something that started to erode in the '70s 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 added.
The “Boogie Woogie” star also recalls his father’s fondness for poetry and the stories he told his children about meeting 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.
"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.
Sharing an anecdote of his father, Jaaved said Jagdeep, as a child actor, could cry without using glycerin and that impressed veteran actor Dilip Kumar a lot.
“There was the ‘mahurat’ shot of the film 'Footpath'. My dad was playing young Dilip Kumar sahab and he gave a shot and cried. Dilip Sahab gave him Rs 10 or something.
He later dropped my father in his car at Mahim where my father was staying in a chawl and Dilip Sahab asked for his autograph,” he said.
Jagdeep was signed for five years by AVM productions and worked as a leading man in films such as “Bhabhi” and “Barkha”, but Jaaved believes “something went wrong and he missed opportunities”, propelling his eventual shift to comedy.
“He did whatever respectable work came his way. The shift in comedy happened with 'Bramachari', before that he was a hero and had some good songs as a leading man.
(So) He did serious roles and then adapted to comedy.
"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.