Feb 26 2016

Why these sidekicks kicked ass

by   Shriram Iyengar

They are not the heroes we deserve. They are the heroes we need. From Circuit to Pappi, sidekicks have added a touch of pizzaz, drama, and sacrifice to Bollywood's grand films. Here's a list of the best sidekicks in Indian cinema.

1 Arshad Warsi (Circuit)

He was man Friday to the big baby, Munnabhai. Arshad Warsi's Circuit could do everything. From getting Munnabhai admission into a medical college to acquiring a body (imported, that too) for his class, taking care of him during the 'chemical locha' to going on a satyagraha with him, Circuit went the whole nine yards and then, a couple more. 

2 Kishore Kumar (Guru)

As the name, so the fame. Kishore Kumar was the scene stealer in this brilliant 1968 Sunil Dutt comedy. As the paan chewing theatre company director who sings playback for the hero, Kishore was in fine form. He had to be, particularly when facing off with the marvellous Mehmood. 

3 Johnny Walker

He was the whisky to every good Hindi film. Filled with the sparkling wit and humour to infuse dry scenes with magic. As the champi maalishwala friend to a disintegrating poet, or as the ruffian friend of an honest taxi driver in Bombay, Johnny Walker was all charm and loyalty. No wonder, his best works were with his closest friends, Guru Dutt, Dev Anand and Vijay Anand. 

4 Amitabh Bachchan

The superstar of tomorrow began his life as a sidekick. His breakthrough film was as the stiff Bengali 'babumoshai' friend of the hyper Punjabi 'Anand'. He went on to play the nerdy friend of another Punjabi, Dharmendra, in the hilarious 'Chupke Chupke'. This chemistry exploded on screen in Sholay, with bits and parts of Amitabh too, sadly. It was the final turn of Amitabh as Robin. After Sholay, he transformed into Batman, the Angry Young Man of Bollywood. 

5 Mukri

To him was bestowed the most sarcastic tribute in a Hindi film 'Moochein ho to Nathulal jaisi, warna na ho.' The veteran actor Mukri had always played second fiddle through his career, but alongside the elongated profile of Amitabh Bachchan, it acquired a unique charm. With films like Bombay to Goa, Lawaaris, Amar Akbar Anthony, and Sharaabi, the pair were all but declared the best 'BFF's of the 70s. 

6 Mehmood

It is unfair to tag Mehmood as a sidekick. Lead heroes would often hesitate to appear alongside him onscreen for the fear that they would not be noticed. Yet, Bollywood's favourite comedian is also their favourite sidekick. The guru who could solve your love problems, the friend you could trust to commit a kidnapping, or the bus  driver who helps keep the goons away from the heroine, Mehmood could do everything while dancing. 

7 Asrani

Jaya Bachchan's former teacher could only find himself a scrap role in her debut film, Guddi. But it was the beginning of a stellar career. Asrani, often stereotyped as a comedian, was much more than that. His dry wit and deadpan humour was pitch perfect with the role of the hero's friend. From Dharmendra's planner in chief in Chupke Chupke to Amitabh's trusted secretary in Abhimaan, Asrani excelled in the genre. Then, Sholay happened, and he was imprisoned as the 'Angrezon ke zamaane ke jailor'. 

8 Satish Kaushik

The adorable 'Calendar' of Mr. India was also the screenwriter of the film. A stellar actor, Kaushik has had some memorable performances in serious roles. But his performance as Calendar, the adorably sweet cook who manages the kids, and the kitchen, on a barely existing money flow, remains an iconic performance. It just makes you want to bang the table and say 'Calendar khana lao'. 

9 Deepak Tijori

For someone who dreamed of being the hero, Deepak Tijori's career went down a tangent. Breaking through in Mahesh Bhatt's Aashiqui, he was shuttled down to the 'friendzone' in films like Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahin, Khiladi and Sadak. Sadly, he never escaped it.

10 Rishi Kapoor 

The 'tingu' to Amitabh Bachchan's 'lambu', Rishi Kapoor reminded us of the innocent kid who hung around the big boys in school. He was the romantic cad who'd prop up the angry young man with tips on how to win the girl. It did not last long, but it made for some spectacularly funny movies like Naseeb, Amar Akbar Anthony, and the infamous Ajooba. 

11 Ravi Baswani

The friend you hate, but always have around. In two of his biggest hits, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron and Chashme Buddoor, Ravi Baswani cemented his position as the annoying,  klutz of a friend that makes every group colourful. The error of his ways often ends up in hilarious conclusions that make for great stories on drunken nights. 

12 Paresh Rawal

Paresh Rawal became a viral meme with his performance of Baburao on the superhit, Hera Pheri. Baburao Ganpatrao Apte is not a friend. He is the random colleague in your office or the annoying landlord you have to put up with. He is brash, a tough nut; but a complete softie at heart. But don't sit down with him for a drink, or you will end up missing the rent payment. Again. Also, if you hang out with him, you got to do things 'Baburao ishtyle'. 

13 Anupam Kher

He might be fighting Twitter wars on his own, but Anupam Kher is one of the most supportive supporting actors in recent years. His bond is especially strong with Khiladi Kumar, having worked in Desi Boyz, Shaukeens, Heyy Baby, Special 26 and Baby. Whether you pick the honest Kamal Kishore Khosla in Khosla Ka Ghosla, the nervous Sharmaji in Special 26 or the sassy Shuklaji in Baby, Anupam Kher holds up films with his typical Delhi nous. 

14 Piyush Mishra

As the scheming consigliere of the Bihari don in Gangs of Wasseypur, Piyush Mishra added a steely edge to the saga of revenge. The actor has always delivered impactful performances in films like Gulaal and Tere Bin Laden. Not exactly the future he had imagined, when a certain Sooraj Barjatya had called up to cast him as the lead in Maine Pyar Kiya way back in 1986. 

15 Deepak Dobriyal

If Kangana Ranaut was the meat of Tanu Weds Manu, it was Deepak Dobriyal who added the sauce and sizzle. His euphemisms and typical Delhi idioms made for some hilarious moments in the film. The actor who has been around for almost a decade now was first noticed as the oily slick Rajjo in Omkara. Why wasn't he popular before? In Pappiji's words, 'You are a good question. But your question hurt me.'

16 Vijay Raaz

He burned the screen as the lean, marigold munching Dubeyji in Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding. Soon, the NSD graduate was the toast of Tinseltown. It took him a while, but his roles in Company, Raghu Romeo, Dhamaal, Delhi-6, and Dedh Ishqiya have given him the credo to take over the supporting actor status.