It is Paresh Rawal’s birthday!
A versatile actor. Like none other Mr. Rawal has been everything: a near-blind bumbling old man, a formidable mafia don, a corrupt police constable, a historical figure, a hysterical father, in a double role…the list is endless. He has appeared in over a whopping 200 films, making his every appearance as enjoyable as the other. While it is difficult to cherry-pick from such a dazzling line up of the best Paresh Rawal performances, we have made an attempt here to list what we think are his ten best roles. If you have a different list, share this post with your recommendations. Spread the Rawal love!
Paresh Rawal stole our hearts as the disgruntled Kanji Lalji Mehta, an atheist who runs a shop that sells religious idols. When misfortune strikes his business in the form of what the insurance companies call an ‘Act of God’, he decides to sue the divine powers that be. What ensues is a hilarious but also a thought-provoking journey that makes us question the nature of faith, religion, and morality.
In India’s answer to Romancing the Stone, Paresh played the villainous role of a hot-headed, eccentric bank robbing gang leader. The twist? Despite his Gujarati origins, he delivered the dialogues in this Telugu film himself. A job he did so well that in Andhra Pradesh he is still known by his moniker from the film, ‘Nayyar Gurdu’.
He made an impactful appearance as Omprakash Verma, the father of the bride hell-bent on marrying a man six years older than him. As the Gandhian with a passion for Test cricket and disgust for his daughter’s romantic decisions, he painted the perfect portrait of a concerned yet clueless father many of us know in our own lives and love.
As the Bengali fishing boat owner Gundya, Paresh formed a riotous duo with his on-screen partner Rajpal Yadav (Bandya). The verbal mazes he creates to dodge money lenders and bullies and all sorts of crazy situations are veritable life lessons.
‘Jamoora ghoom gaya’! Paresh was memorable as the blind, ‘Mumbaiya’-speaking, colourful character Ilyas who is a part of the trio being trained by Amitabh Bachchan to rob a bank.
Mr. Rawal sent chills down our spines as the deceptively charming yet quite inhuman Abdul Razaq Khan, a resort owner with a vulgar taste for playing people against each other in increasingly sickening games.
Paresh Rawal played the role of an imposing relative as Lambodar Chacha, the guest who just refuses to leave, to perfection. One couldn’t help but feel pity for his hosts given the lengths he goes to make their lives miserable as heck!
Who can forget Paresh Rawal as the extremely near-sighted, alcoholic landlord of Akshay Kumar and Suniel Shetty? Baburao Ganpatrao Apte’s dreams of becoming wealthy or at the very least managing to get his monthly dues from his roguish tenants made for the perfect backdrop to this rollercoaster of a movie.
Paresh brought to life one of our most compelling freedom fighters and founding fathers of India. As ‘Sardar’ Vallabhbhai Patel he moved the audiences to feel a sense of nostalgia for the birthing phase of our country regardless of their age and generation.
“Main Teja hoon, mark idhar hai!” This cult classic would not have reached its gut-bursting proportions of hilarity if Paresh Rawal had not joined the cast in a double role as the card-playing petty street gang leader, Teja, on the one hand, and the discipline-loving millionaire Ram Gopal Bajaj on the other.
This list would not be complete without a mention of the films that won Paresh Rawal National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Paresh played the role of a “desh premi” politician who ruthlessly abandons his wife to pursue his political ambitions.
As the mafia don Veljibhai, Paresh once again conjured terribly real images of what heartlessness can look like with utter conviction.