Arre o Sambha … Happy birthday!

sambha“Poore pachaas hazaar”.

Did you know, these were the only words he uttered in Sholay? All the rest of his lines were brutally deleted by the director. For those three words, he made twenty seven trips from Bombay to Bangalore during the shooting of Sholay.

But that tiny bit of dialog made him immortal. So famous was Sambha, that even an immigration officer in New York recognised him as Gabbar Singh’s sidekick.

On screen, he was always suave, soft-spoken, and non-violent, and generally behaved better than the movie’s hero, and yet he appeared almost exclusively in villainous roles. That’s the irony of Bollywood.

He was very good at cricket and came to Bombay to make his career as a cricketer, but the Bollywood bug bit him. Mohan Makhijani from Karachi put himself through an acting course and became Mac Mohan, the nicest villain in Bollywood.

Starting with a bit-role in Haqeeqat in 1964, Mac Mohan quietly worked his way deep into Bollywood. Over a fifty year acting career that ended only with his death in 2010, Mac Mohan was seen in 200 Hindi films, and in several other Indian movies, and in Russian, and English, and Spanish movies. It is said that he is the only actor to have delivered dialogs in every official Indian language, except Oriya.

I remember his TV interview with Tabassum, back in 1982. In his typical soft-spoken manner, Mac Mohan said that as a villain he got beaten up in every movie, but himself never raised his hand on anyone!

Mac Mohan was a voracious reader and was exceptionally good at English. His favorite publication was the Reader’s Digest, a fact not generally known to his fans.

Mac Mohan passed away in March 2010 due to lung cancer, but till this day, if anyone talks about Sholay, the first words that come to mind are, “Arre o Sambha!”

Today is Mac’s birthday, hence this little tribute to his name. Take a look at this nice video on Bollywood’s nice villain.

Cheers … Srini. 

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