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Reader's Choice: Bollywood's greatest comic actor

Last updated on: September 12, 2011 14:47 IST

Reader's Choice: Bollywood's greatest comic actor

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Raja Sen in Mumbai

Once again, dear readers, very well done.

We asked you to name Bollywood's greatest comic actor, and, with characteristic thoughtfulness, you picked names from both present-day and classic Bollywood to form a list of ten comedians who would enliven any film lucky enough to have them in it.

Here, then, is your list:

10. Vijay Raaz

There's a quite fantastic dryness about Vijay Raaz, an actor who manages to make the bizarrest of characters immensely enjoyable.

World-weary and laconic, he breezes through every role as if exhausted and cold. Most recently making us split our sides in Delhi Belly, Raaz is certainly a comic actor to treasure.


Image: Vijay Raaz

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9. Paresh Rawal

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Beginning his Bollywood innings as a solid character actor, somewhere down the line Paresh -- like many other top character artistes -- realised that a lot of fun could be had on the comic side of the fence.

These days we mostly see him in harebrained comedies but even in the weakest films, Paresh always makes us laugh out loud.

Image: Paresh Rawal

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8. Uma Devi Khatri (Tuntun)

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The only woman on this list, the fabulous Uma Devi -- better known as Tuntun -- was as iconic as they got.

Initially a very good playback singer, she was sidelined by the rising Mangeshkar sisters and playback's loss was comedy's gain as she -- named Tun Tun by Dilip Kumar -- became a true comedic great, acting in almost 200 films while her nickname became a ubiquitous term for a fat woman.

Image: Uma Devi Khatri (Tuntun)

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7. Deven Verma

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A significant part of comedies by master directors Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterji and Gulzar, Deven Verma's unassuming screen-presence backed with his everyman comic spontaneity made him an actor to love.

Verma mostly played supporting foil to leading men, but his moment came in Gulzar's Comedy Of Errors remake Angoor, where he shone alongside the late Sanjeev Kumar.

Image: Deven Verma

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6. Govinda

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Govinda started out in the Mithun Chakravarthy mould, an earthy street-dancer with the right moves, but somewhere as his weight ballooned, he discovered a strikingly original comic presence and spectacular timing, allowing him to become a true comedic superstar.

He's so good at being loony that a lot of his comedy seems impossible to script.

Image: Govinda

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5. Rajendra Nath

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Buffoonery is a simple enough concept but few can actually consistently work it into a charming art form, and such was Rajendra Nath's floundering cluelessness that he'd place right on top of the Hindi film heap.

Magnificently clueless and also anachronistically English in his slapstick, Nath was an awesome entertainer who could wear only one hat -- that of the well-meaning, affluent nutjob given to much eccentricity -- but wore it with immense, hilarious flair.

Image: Rajendra Nath

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4. Amitabh Bachchan

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Leading men, at least the biggest of the biggest, were supposed to stand by and play heroes while comedians took on the task of tickling.

Bachchan, however, a prolific man adept at every kind of performance, sparkled deliciously in comedies, with some of his finest ever performances coming in funny films.

Unafraid and awesome, from Chupke Chupke to Namak Halaal, he's done it all many, many times over.

Image: Amitabh Bachchan

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3. Mehmood

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If comedy was cricket, Mehmood would have been Virender Sehwag. On speed.

With hyperactive energy levels and completely off-the-wall lunacy, Mehmood was an unpredictable comic explosion just waiting to be unwrapped.

You never knew what to expect from the inimitable Mehmood, save that he'd make you split your sides laughing.

Image: Mehmood

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2. Utpal Dutt

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Some people have screen presence, some grow into it and develop some of their own, and some are born into it.

Utpal Dutt *owned* it. Whenever he strolled onto the screen it was all his, and everyone else became instantly immaterial.

That booming voice, that iconic "eeeeeshh" exclamation, and that moustache all combined to turn this immaculate theatre actor into one of Hindi cinema's funniest, and most endearing, people.

Image: Utpal Dutt

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1. Kishore Kumar

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And who else? There was only one Kishore Kumar and -- from drag to tomfoolery, from dancing to idiocy, from high-energy to hysteria, from random Bengali gibberish to silly soliloquies -- he did it all with the grace of a ballerina, skipping effortlessly through every kind of comedy and ruling over it, like the clown prince he was.

All hail KishoreDa, for there will never be another.

Image: Kishore Kumar

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