The audience always heaved a sigh of relief whenever he appeared on screen.
He provided the distraction during those heavy family dramas which dominated Indian cinema in the 1950s and 1960s.
Starting with bit roles, Mehmood climbed up to the top of the ladder through his ability to play pure comedy or tragicomic roles. He even did a villainous turn in the Dev Anand starrer CID where the comedy was left to his rival Johnny Walker.
Mehmood’s talent also extended to direction and singing.
He spent four decades in Hindi cinema. However, the advent of other comedians in the 70s and 80s broke his monopoly and he quietly disappeared from the screen after that.
Here is a selection of his works:
Bhoot Bangla (1965)
Cast: Mehmood, Tanuja, Nazir Hussain, R D Burman, Asit Sen, Nana Palshikar
A haunted house on the outskirts of Mumbai is the setting of a mysterious murder of the owner Kundanlal. His wife and child disappear and the house, occupied by his three nephews is finally abandoned by them.
But on the eve of the return of one of the nephew’s daughter Rekha (Tanuja), another nephew is found hanging. Rekha’s father is also killed in an accident and she befriends Mohan (Mehmood) to solve the mystery.
Pyar Kiye Jaa (1966)
Cast: Shashi Kapoor, Kishore Kumar, Mehmood, Om Prakash, Kalpana, Mumtaz, Rajasree
Director: C V Sridhar
This romantic comedy involves a businessman Ramlal (Om Prakash) who lives a wealthy lifestyle along with his two daughters Malti (Kalpana), Nirmala (Rajasree) and a to-be filmmaker son (Atma) near Pune. To get his two daughters to rich men, he hires an assistant manager Ashok (Shashi Kapoor) but fires him later for misbehaving with one of them.
Ashok protests by pitching up a tent in the estate and staying there in protest. Things change when the elderly Shyam/ Rai Bahadur (Kishore Kumar) lands up at the estate and muddles up everything. But who is this man? The scene where Mehmood scares Om Prakash has been rated among the best-ever in Hindi cinema.
Sadhu Aur Shaitan (1969)
Cast: Mehmood, Om Prakash, Bharathi, Pran, Nasir Hussain
Director: A Bhimsingh
An honest taxi driver Bajraing (Mehmood) befriends a humble bank employee Sadhuram (Om Prakash ). Bajranj loves Vidya (Bharathi) and the three live happily. But one day, a man called Sher Khan (Pran) enters Sadhuram’s life, claiming to be his childhood friend.
Sher Khan turns out to be a dacoit whose only aim to befriend Sadhuram is to gain access to the bank to rob it. He succeeds and the blame falls on Sadhuram. Then Sher Khan is killed and his body found in Bajrang’s taxi. So who murdered Sher Khan?
Main Sundar Hoon (1971)
Cast: Biswajeet, Mehmood, Leena Chandavarkar, Sulochana, Aruna Irani, David
This tragicomedy sees Mehmood in the role of Sundar, a waiter with a funny face and a heart of gold. Sunder is madly in love with Radha (Leena Chadravarkar) but cannot express it. He seeks the help of a friend Amar (Biswajeet) but the latter can’t help as he falls for Radha too.
However, Sundar is helped by Amar to become a successful star. Then one day, Sundar expresses his desire to propose to the woman he loves. Radha is worried and tells Amar to reveal all. He does and this breaks Sundar’s heart and he goes away to help orphans.
Sabse Bada Rupaiya (1976)
Cast: Mehmood, Vinod Mehra, Moushumi Chatterjee, Farida Jalal, Jeevan
Director: S Ramanathan
A wealthy and generous man Amit (Vinod Mehra) learns the reality of life despite being warned earlier about it by his friend Nekiram (Mehmood). Amit’s generosity is taken advantage of by his business associates, friends and even his fiancée Sunita (Moushumi Chatterjee).
Then he goes broke and all those who were with him abandon him, including Sunita. However, Nekiram is proven right and Amit relocates along with his mother and sister and restarts life as a fisherman. Then it is revealed that his bankruptcy was the result of a plot.