It was 1977 as well as Pakistan Tv was tape-recording an episode of the once a week program Farozan, hosted by Mehtab Channa (currently Rashdi). The manufacturer, Arfeen, presented a lad in his very early 20s to the program that brought fresh talent ahead.
Typically anxious, novices reacted just briefly to Mehtab’s inquiries, who was young, dynamic and really eye-catching. The host asked the lad, “Aap drama author hain, star hain, director hain, producer hain, poet bhi hain, aakhir aap cheez kya hain [You’re a dramatization author, star, supervisor, manufacturer as well as even a poet, what are you]” Pat came the reply, “Main tau nacheez hoon, cheez tu aap hain [I’m absolutely nothing contrasted to you]” As giggling and also clapping loaded the amphitheater, the host was left fairly without words.
The then unknown young person went on to end up being Umer Sharif, the ‘King of Funny’. Born Muhammad Umer in Karachi 8 years after Dividing, he spent his developmental years in Liaquatabad also known as Lalukhet, the extremely locality that produced a variety of nationwide tales, consisting of worldwide hockey gamers, literatteurs and qawwals. A comedy artist of Umer’s calibre was a rarity up until after that.
Coming from a lower-middle class household, Umer shed his papa at the age of 4. Being the youngest of his brother or sisters, there were no limitations on the young Umer, which aided grow his great feeling of humour as well as sharp wit. By the time he remained in his teenagers, Umer was going to theatres to see stage shows as well as had actually begun to imitate every person in his area– from passing beggars to area thugs as well as harasses, he spared definitely no one.
For Umer Sharif, who died on October 2, spontaneity and all set wit were his ideal properties and also he utilized them to change not just Urdu theater and films, yet also exactly how comedy was consumed in the Subcontinent
His skill landed him at the Adamjee Hall for a phase play where he was provided the function of a Gujarati fortune-teller at the eleventh hour, after the original actor had to leave because of a family emergency situation. Umer excelled in the function of the fortune-teller as well as, regardless of being only 14 at the time, he handled to win a motorbike, a year’s supply of fuel as well as 5,000 rupees in cash in recognition of his performance.
He initially made his stage name Umer Zarif, a homage to his “spiritual advisor” and also epic Pakistani star Munawwar Zarif, yet after being stunned by the Egyptian lead actor’s efficiency in Lawrence of Arabia, he changed it once more to Umer Sharif.
In 1976, Umer wrote the stage program Bionic Slave, inspired by the renowned TV collection 6 Million Dollar Male starring Lee Majors, as well as hence his life time association with the already established comic Moin Akhtar, that likewise starred in it, began.
Although Umer remained a part of the renowned television show Fifty-Fifty for a long time, he ended up being persona non grata at PTV throughout the ’80s after his lack of ability to adhere to a script and also his partiality wherefore was taken into consideration ‘rude’ street humour at the state broadcaster. Those were the days of Gen Ziaul Haq’s martial law. Video clip shops were rather usual in those days and VHS cassette services of movies, mushairas and geet malas at a meagre expense of 10 rupees a day sounded considerably far better than transporting one’s entire family off to a movie theater or a theatre.
Therefore, VHS and also audio cassettes of Bollywood movies quickly recorded the Pakistani market. Be it buses, personal vehicles or inter-city trains, Indian tracks could be listened to easily almost everywhere. Sharif capitalised on this circulation, initially with audio cassettes of his talks and, later on, with video recordings of his stage dramas.
Each time when both PTV as well as Pakistani movies were having a hard time for target markets after the influx of pirated Indian films, Sharif acted as a saviour by attracting target market back to Pakistani web content, with his hit plays available on rental VHS tapes. Umer Sharif decided of having his stage show Bakra Qiston Pe taped in 1987. Bakra Qiston Pe not only saw numerous copies in video clip stores because of a rising demand in its rental yet it came to be a substantial hit in India as well, in much the same means Bollywood movies were a fad in Pakistan.
VHS cassettes of Umer’s funny phase play were smuggled to India and then flowed throughout the country. Besides this, audio tapes of the program sold like pancakes both in and out of Pakistan. Four more parts of Baqra Qiston Pe were written as well as created by Umer Sharif as well as its success made the legend-in-the-making search for other opportunities, specifically movies.
Umer’s other stage plays such as Buddha Ghar Pe Hai, Hum Sab Aik Hain, Hum Sa Ho To Saamnay Aaye as well as Yes Sir Eid, No Sir Eid became equally as renowned and successful as Bakra Qiston Pe, therefore aiding him establish a link in between the audience and also the entertainer in the true spirit of theater. Umer Sharif likewise presented fresh new talent on stage, such as Ruby Niazi, Sikandar Sanam, Shakeel Teeli and Rauf Lala in his plays; the latter 2 went on to produce a great deal of buzz in India too.
Umer Sharif’s spontaneity was his finest property as well as his capacity to utter anything with a straight face was an included advantage. Even his contemporaries in India, such as the late Bollywood star and comedian Kadir Khan, could not assist but commend his ability to provide what the target market wished to hear.
He introduced juggat in Urdu theatre which, up until then, was generally linked just with the society of Punjab. Punjabi stars were well-known for catcalling, yet there was no such principle among their Urdu-speaking counterparts. Umer never ever shied away from an opportunity to body shame his fellow actors, performers as well as even tales either, with Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and also Adnan Sami Khan being his routine targets. As a master of cultural funny, he separated Karachi right into two parts: (Clifton) Pul ke uss paar and also pul ke iss paar [One side of the bridge versus the various other]
Be it the introduction of the words ‘hamburger’ or ‘mommy daddy’ to specify young adults coming from the wealthy locations of Protection and also Clifton, or his use of the word ‘maila’ for the rough as well as goons from the other, less-privileged locations of Karachi, Umer handled to delight and amuse the audience anywhere he carried out.
His jokes made individuals laugh anywhere Urdu was recognized and also spoken, not only in Pakistan yet also in India and the South Asian areas in the UK and the United States. He would easily as well as good-naturedly taunt excessively ‘fabricated’ girls, ended up being the voice of helpless other halves, while his mimicry of a bridegroom was a course act. Corruption was his bete noire as well as he exposed it in divisions such as law enforcement, customizeds as well as health centers with his between-the-lines sarcastic wit as well as humour. The way in which he parodied airline company teams and replicated the design of the guardians as well as stewardesses was something just he could take care of to do.
Umer arrived in Lahore in 1989, and with his extremely friendly nature and fascinating style, was approved with open arms by Lahore’s movie sector also known as Lollywood. Sultan Rahi was still possessing his gandaasa as well as veteran actors such as Nadeem as well as Yusuf Khan were forced to work in dual version (Punjabi as well as Urdu) movies. Although Umer Sharif had actually made his launching in Hisaab (1986 ), he intended to be in the front seat and guided, generated as well as acted in Mr 420 (1992 ), where he played three different roles. The success of the film got him Pakistan’s National Award for best director and actor, as well as four Nigar Awards in a single year, a record in itself.
Mr 420 became a hit and was instrumental in initiating a mini revival of Pakistan films that lasted till 1998. His dramas and movies brought about a much-needed change in Bollywood as well. A comedian hero was a rarity in the 1990s, and the upcoming star Govinda’s career got a boost after he starred in David Dhawan’s Aankhain (1993 ). Govinda’s future roles had shades of Umer Sharif. Bollywood’s Khiladi Akshay Kumar credits his success as a comedy star to Umer Sharif while Javed Jaffery, son of legendary Bollywood comedian Jagdeep, was also always full of praise for the legend.
When Salman Khan’s character Chulbul Pandey blurted “Main maarta kum aur ghaseet-ta zyada hoon” [I thrash less and drag more] in Dabangg (2010 ), people in Pakistan could not help but recall Umer Sharif rendering the exact same line decades back. The song ‘Munni Badnaam Hui’ in Dabangg was originally ‘Larrka Badnaam Hua’, a qawwali rendered by Umer Sharif for a movie.
With the arrival of Pakistan’s first private TV channel STN in the early ’90s, Umer finally got the opportunity he was deprived of at the state broadcaster: to host a TV show in his unique style. He regularly did Eid shows, co-hosted Nigar Awards ceremonies and even hosted entertainment shows such as Hip Hurray.
His first TV serial, Parda Na Uthao which he wrote and acted in as well, was produced by Rashid Khawaja in 2002. Exposing the lack of faith in the divine in our society, it featured an unusual painter: whichever person he painted died within hours and people flocked to him to seek revenge on their enemies. His TV shows Umer Sharif Hazir Ho, Umer Sharif vs Umer Sharif and The Sharif Show were hilarious as well as marvellous. In Umer Sharif vs Umer Sharif, he donned over 400 get-ups. The currently on-air Kapil Sharma Show bears a striking resemblance to The Sharif Show aired more than a decade ago.
Umer Sharif’s one-liners are still remembered to this day. In a show in India, he referred to Amitabh Bachchan as a ‘towering personality’, whose height people used to commit suicide. And as for Pakistani star Javed Sheikh, Umer’s “Lambay moonh ka fashion bhi aayega [the fashion of oblong faces will be ‘in’ some day] jab still brings a smile to our faces.
When Pashto film star Musarrat Shaheen told him she still played the role of a 16-year-old girl, Umer’s response, “Are there no calendars there?” left the audience in stitches. Seasoned villain Shafqat Cheema expressed his desire to be part of every Pakistani film and Umer’s simple reply was, “Do you work for free?”
Only Umer Sharif had the guts to ask President Pervez Musharraf about the point of the atom bomb, when he inquired, “Yeh aap ne kya Shab-i-Bara’at ke liye rakha hai [Are you holding on to it so you can light it up on Shab-i-Bara’at]” Gen Musharraf could not stifle his laugh.
A recipient of the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz, Umer Sharif remained active till 2019. The untimely death of his daughter Hira, in February 2020, left him utterly shattered. His health deteriorated and he became bedridden. By the time the Sindh Government intervened and Umer was flown out of Pakistan in an air ambulance on September 28 for treatment in the US, it was already too late for the ailing comedian. He died on October 2 in a hospital in Germany.
For someone who spent his life spreading joy and laughter, he left everybody heartbroken and grief-stricken in death.