Good guy, bad guy or just plain funny, Paresh Rawal excelled in all the roles which came to him. In other words, he is one of the most versatile actors in Indian cinema.
His speaks many languages fluently including Hindi, English, Gujarati, Telugu and Marathi which helps him to act in regional cinema and showcase his considerable talentn there too.
Starting his career with the Hindi film Arjun he made his mark in the Sanjay Dutt-Kumar Gaurav starrer Naam. There was no looking back after that. He established himself as a superb character actor before gaining bigger and better roles after Hera Pheri.
Here are some of Rawal’s earlier works which are worth a watch:
Woh Chokri (1994)
Cast: Pallavi Joshi, Neena Gupta, Paresh Rawal, Om Puri
Director: Subhankar Ghosh
A poignant tale of a young girl Apsara (Joshi) who is left alone to face the world is the central theme of this award-winning film. Her mother, Geeta (Gupta), who is from a prominent family, is widowed early and falls for Ramji (Rawal) and then Apsara is born. But Ramji disappears one day leaving mother and daughter to fend for themselves.
They plunge into poverty and her mother takes to drink and dies. Apsara is left alone and is still under the illusion that her father loves her. But Ramji has now become a politician and fails to recognise his daughter. Pallavi works as a maid for a widower (Puri) and they begin to live together but he dies. Pallavi is forced into prostitution but she still lives in hope that her father will help her. But life is not so simple.
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Pooja Bhatt, Atul Agnihotri, Paresh Rawal, Avtar Gill, Soni Razdan, Gulshan Grover
Director: Mahesh Bhatt
A college professor, Amar Varma, (Naseeruddin) loses his six-year-old son during a gang war between Veljibhai (Rawal) and Tikli (Grover). His wife Shobha (Razdan) leaves him which devastates Amar and he decides to dedicate his life to students.
He comes across a student Pooja (Bhatt) whom he wants to help to get rid of her stammering. But she is Veljibhai’s daughter and in love with a classmate Karan (Agnihotri) but the father won’t bless the couple. Amar tries to broker peace between the two warring factions so that he can take the students on a field trip. But it won’t work.
Cast: Paresh Rawal, Annu Kapoor, Benjamin Gilani, Sri Vallabh Vyas, Tom Alter, Ashish Vidyarthi
Director: Ketan Mehta
One of India’s greatest heroes and freedom fighter, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, is the focus of this biopic by Ketan Mehta. Sardar Patel’s (Rawal) life story during India’s struggle for freedom from the British is in the spotlight.
Patel’s relationship with Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru and his conflicts with the latter are also highlighted, particularly during the Partition. Rawal is excellent in the title role with a good supporting cast.
Cast: Paresh Rawal, Pooja Bhatt, Sharad Kapoor, Manoj Bajpayee
Director: Mahesh Bhatt
A eunuch, Tikku (Rawal), is struck with grief after his mother, who is dependent on him, passes away. After the funeral, he spots a child abandoned in a bin and picks her up.
Bereft of company, he decides to keep the child Tamanna (Bhatt) and rears her up with a friend Saleem (Bajpayee). But Tamanna gets a shock when she realises that Tikku is a eunuch. Then it is revealed that Tamanna is the daughter of a rich upcoming politician. But will he accept her or will Tikku leave her?
Hera Pheri (2000)
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty, Paresh Rawal, Tabu, Namrata Shirodkar, Om Puri
An eccentric trio – garage owner Baburao (Rawat), a crafty loafer Raju (Akhshay) and a pauper Shyam (Shetty) are caught in a comic crime caper which involves jobs, wrong numbers, misunderstandings and kidnapping.
The wrong number means that the kidnapper dials up to garage instead of the abducted girl’s father which triggers confusion. This gets the trio involved in a mess from which getting out is difficult.