Do you remember the golden era of comedy and comedians who by their blistering performances took away the senses of the audience? Those were indeed the most cherished moments which we still remember. But do we still have that passion for comedy and comedians or have we forgotten the essence of the comic role in movies? Recall for instance, the song “Ek Chatur Naar” where a bald man sings the song on the opposite the lead actor, and where the comedian is given the same importance as the lead actor.
Ever since the advent of movies, comedy has been an integral part of Bollywood films. In the past, comedians played a special role in films. The industry has been really lucky to have discovered some of the most talented and gracious comedians of all times. Movies of the past had a special flavour which along with the lead actors and story also gave importance to comedians who played a pivotal role. Comedians like Johnny Walker, Mehmood Ali, Jagdeep, Keshto Mukherjee etc, were the stalwarts amongst film comedians. The roles played by these brilliant comedians are worth being cherished. The comedy in the movies of the past was mostly very natural and circumstantial in nature instead of appearing artificial and deliberately designed, and this appealed to the audience.
In the late 70’s, Bollywood films saw a turn-around. The lead actors began being given the additional responsibility of playing the role of comedians as well. The stalwarts of Hindi cinema including Amitabh Bacchan, Dharmendra, Jitendra etc., played roles which included both the roles of an actor and a comedian.
But in the late 70’s, Bollywood films saw a turn-around. The lead actors began being given the additional responsibility of playing the role of comedians as well. The stalwarts of Hindi cinema including Amitabh Bacchan, Dharmendra, Jitendra etc., played roles which included both the roles of an actor and a comedian. The role of specialist comedians in Bollywood movies saw a decline as the lead actors took on the responsibility of playing dual roles. Naturally, films of this period saw a marked reduction in films where specialist comedians took centre stage.
The present scenario in Bollywood films has changed drastically. The number of comedians who have really made their presence felt are currently few in number. Johnny Lever, Paresh Rawal, Vijay Raaz, Arshad Warsi and Rajpal Yadav are a few names that can be counted as those who have been successful in leaving their imprints on certain films. The number of films featuring comedy has reduced noticeably in comparison to the past. Present generation movies are more focused on aspects such as glamour, lifestyle, stylish looks, etc., instead of comedy and thereby this has seen a ‘fade-away’ of comedy. Comedy is now being used primarily as a ‘filler’ instead of the major role they played in the past. Moreover, even the skimpy comedies are being scripted these days in a majority of Bollywood films are more for namesake than any serious attempt at high quality comedy.
This bring us to the big question : what is the future of comedy and comedians in Bollywood films ? Will we be lucky enough to see a repeat performance of the golden era of comedy with brilliant performances from comedians who could make even the most frustrated or disillusioned person smile and laugh or will we see a permanence of scripts which place very little premium on comedy as a means of attracting the audience? Only time will tell.