“Sholay” director Ramesh Sippy says veteran actor-comedian Jagdeep's pitch-perfect performance made the character of Soorma Bhopali iconic. Jagdeep, who passed away at the age of 81, did more than 400 films but Soorma Bhopali’s popularity stayed with him throughout his life. Remembering Jagdeep’s contribution to the role in his 1975 classic, Sippy said the actor was his only choice for the part. "It takes a superb artiste to get all the nuances of a local character like that. Comedy is not easy. The timing has to be perfect and the reaction has to be right. It is not possible without talent. As a director, I cannot make an actor do comedy. I can only ask for improvisation,” Sippy told PTI.
The director said he had seen Jagdeep in “Brahmchari” and when he read Salim-Javed’s script, the actor’s name came to his mind. “There are times when you think of an actor when you have a character. Only he could play it and he played it so well. It was a perfect casting and a perfect performance," he added. Recalling the scene where Amitabh Bachchan’s Jai and Dharmendra’s Veeru had to retrieve money from Bhopali, Sippy said they shot the segment in two days with hardly any retakes.
"Javed saab had been to Bhopal and Salim saab is from Indore. When you go (there), you come across a character (like that). There is a way of speaking and Jagdeep was aware of it. Javed saab had written some wonderful lines that go well with the scene about how he is boasting about throwing Jai and Veeru in jail,” Sippy recalled. The popularity of the character, pushed Jagdeep to eventually direct and play the lead in a film titled “Soorma Bhopali” in 1988.
"He felt like doing it and I didn't mind. In those days, we were not fussy about it. He played the original character so why not make a film? That was a different world we lived in then. It must have been on his mind as people did not forget this character,” the director said. The filmmaker said Jagdeep, whose real name was Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed Jafri, will be missed.
"We will miss him a lot. His legacy will live on through his sons Jaaved and Naved and his grandson Meezaan, who will continue the good work," Sippy concluded.