Pankaj Kapur: The man behind Mussaddi Lal and the iconic roles he has nailed!

Pankaj Kapur is a master of playing endearing characters that allure you with their unique wits and charms. His peculiar style of making each character feel fresh yet familiar to the audience is what makes them memorable and relevant. On the occasion of his birthday, let’s take a look at some of his most iconic performances through the years.

1. Detective Karamchand

Pankaj Kapur’s first big break as an eccentric detective who munched on raw carrots and solved cases with his secretary Kitty is one of the most iconic characters from the DD National era. 
Detective Karamchand’s improvised comedy format was an instant hit with the audience and they fell head over heels for his antics. The day the show went off air, DD received hundreds of letters demanding the show be brought back and they sure did!
“Sir, you're a genius sir” and “Shut up Kitty” are few of the most iconic pop culture references of that time and still make people nostalgic.

Detective Karamchand
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2. Tarneja in Jaane bhi do Yaaron

Jaane bhi do Yaaron’s crazy crew of characters is one of the biggest reasons why the film remains such a cult classic even today.
With a tone of utter seriousness and a straight face, Pankaj Kapur’s character of the corrupt builder Tarneja stood out in the otherwise exaggerated and dumb wit of the film.
The film is a complete package of all things crazy while still remaining relevant and Pankaj Kapur does a great job in bringing the best out of his character.

Tarneja in Jaane bhi do Yaaron
Image Courtesy:
Zee News
3. Abba ji in Maqbool

Vishal Bharadwaj’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a cinematic masterpiece to say the least. Among the great performances of actors like Irffan Khan, Tabu and Masumeh Makhija etc. Pankaj Kapur’s portrayal of the underworld don Abba ji will definitely remain memorable for years to come.
At the time, the seriousness and complexity delivered by Pankaj Kapur as Abba ji proved his versatility and established him as an actor who could give his audience the best of both worlds.

Abba ji in Maqbool
Image Courtesy:
The Indian Express
4. Mussaddi Lal in Office Office

It’s impossible to be a 90s kid and never have seen an episode of the Office Office. With its endearing characters and its not-so subtle commentary on the frustrating bureaucracy of public offices, it sure did stand out from the clutter. 
Mussaddi Lal’s character as the quintessential common man struck a chord with the Indian audiences and made people root for him like they had never done before!
The audiences’ familiarity with Mussaddi Lal still remains so strong that it’s difficult to separate the real Pankaj Kapur from the fictional Mussaddi Lal.

Mussaddi Lal in Office Office
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5. Don Pedro in Finding Fanny

With his vintage suits and his unhinged obsession to paint Rosie, the character of Don Pedro added a layer of dark humor that the film clearly needed.
The character fit Pankaj Kapur like a glove and he showed us that he can play a borderline lunatic equally as good as he can play a naïve common man. 
Don Pedro’s character was fresh, funny and novel and his chemistry with the others forged the film into a complete entertainer!

Don Pedro in Finding Fanny
Image Courtesy:
Sufiyana soul
6. Harry Mandola in Matru ki Bijli ka Mandola

At the age of 58, Pankaj Kapur not only went all out for his role as the crazy rich Haryanvi, Harry Mandola but also danced to a Bollywood number!
Even though the film didn’t do as well as expected, Harry Mandola’s antics sure did make the audience roll over with laughter!
In an interview with DNA India about his decision to do this eccentric role, he said “I am open to scripts. I am hoping that interesting subjects come my way. There is a perception that I do certain kind of films. That's not true. I am open to any good scripts with a good role”

Harry Mandola in Matru ki Bijlee ka Mandola
Image Courtesy:
India Today
Special mentions:

Pankaj Kapur’s filmography is wide and ever-growing and it will be a disservice to not recommend some more of his lesser known works as well. So, don’t forget to check out The Blue Umbrella, Rui ka Bojh and Ek doctor ki maut to entertain yourself with even more of his great performances!

Pankaj Kapoor in The Blue Umbrella
Image Courtesy:
Bollywood Bubble