Umer Sharif was not just a comedian, actor or master of ceremonies; he was in fact all three (and more) together. He had set standards and broken his own records by just being there. His spirit to this day remains unmatched, undefeated and unmatched. Let’s find out the five times Umer Sharif managed to surprise even his ardent fans and came out brilliantly.
Ek Fankar – One Man Show
Before becoming the king of comedy on stage, Umer Sharif made a name for himself with his stand-up comedy number on PTV in the 1980s. In what is now considered one of the most watched music videos on social media, the late king of comedy was at his best in every way during the episode of Ek Fankar. It was the first of countless times he made fun of “Burgers” on national television, wowed audiences with his “comparison of new and old marriages”, and also featured the now famous Sami joke. Ullah – Kaleem Ullah in the process. His latest act which revolved around the Pakistan hockey team became so popular that it was cited three decades later in the National Assembly.
Mr 420 – Blockbuster movie
Umer Sharif made his film debut as a supporting actor in 1986 with Javed Fazil’s Hisaab and in the 1990s he started playing the role of lead actor – long before Bollywood action stars Govinda and Akshay Kumar do not switch to comedy.
The film also marked his entry as a writer, director and lyricist, and was at its best across the board. Not only that, he had as many as three heroines – Shakila Qureshi, Madiha Shah and Rubi Niazi – because he played not one or two but three separate roles in the film. He received four Nigar Awards for the film because no other film has managed to beat Mr 420 at the box office!
Bakra Qiston Pe
Umer Sharif’s most iconic drama, Bakra Qiston Pe, was considered Pakistan’s response to Amitabh Bachchan’s Shahenshah when they both came out in the late 1980s. The play was so popular it was instead of selling his rights to Pakistani companies, Shahenshah was traded with Bakra Qiston Pe, which had not been done before. Sharif not only wrote the screenplay, but also starred alongside veterans Ibrahim Nafees, Muzaffar Nirala, Moin Akhtar and Aftab Alam. That wasn’t all, he also introduced Salma Zafar, Salomi and Rauf Lala through this iconic piece that went on to make a name for itself. The success of this comedy on stage prompted Umer Sharif to revisit it five more times, and audiences loved every sequel, every release.
Buddha Ghar Pe Hai
This play succeeded his previous success Bakra Qiston Pe and further consolidated his position as king of comedy. Alongside his inspiration Moin Akhtar, he played a number of characters and excelled in all of them, making his presence felt both as a writer and a director. While he used old people like Muzaffar Nirala, Malik Anokha, and Tarana Begum for their experience, he also introduced newcomers like Shakeel Teeli and gave him the break he needed. Interestingly, the title of the piece was coined during rehearsals for the piece and was later used in an Indian song, sung by Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik in the 1990s.
After the success of his first roles, Umer Sharif proposed Mr. Charlie the following year where, in addition to being the lead actor, writer, director and poet, he was also one of the singers. Interestingly, in a movie that revolved around a police informant named “Charlie,” Umer Sharif performed for himself in one song and in another for several supporting characters. Larka Badnaam Hua was sung by him, which was later copied to Bollywood as Munni Badnaam Hui. While Umer Sharif’s number was more of a Qawwali, the latter was an object song. It is through this film that he resuscitates the long forgotten trend of parody songs.