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Mac Mohan, the ‘poore pachaas hazaar’ actor who moved to Mumbai to be a cricketer

On his 9th death anniversary, ThePrint takes a look at the career of one of Bollywood’s most popular character artistes.

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New Delhi: For yesteryear actor Mac Mohan, “poore pachaas hazaar“, three iconic words he delivered in Sholay (1975) came to define his entire career. But he was much more than just those three words.

Having appeared in over 200 films through 46 years, Mac Mohan played a long innings in Bollywood. On his 9th death anniversary, ThePrint takes a look at the career of one of Bollywood’s most popular character artiste.

From cricket to films

Mac Mohan was born Mohan Makijany in Karachi in undivided India in 1938 to a British Indian Army officer. After the family relocated to Lucknow, Mac Mohan’s dream was to play cricket for India.

He moved to Mumbai when he was still a student, and intended to pursue his dreams of playing for the country. His daughters, Manjari and Vinati Makijany, who work in the film industry now, remembered in an interview how “cricket was part of his life”. But then he stumbled into the world of films.

The story goes that while he was studying in Jai Hind College, he took up theatre as an extracurricular. While doing a play with actor Shaukat Kaifi, he was encouraged by her to pursue drama and join the Indian People’s Theatre Association.

His love for acting pulled him into studying the art and he went on to assist director Chetan Anand on his film Haqeeqat in 1964, which also ended up being his debut.

Mac Mohan mostly played secondary and negative roles — save for a few comedic ones — and managed to make a mark every time he was on screen.

Also read: Pran, the most popular Bollywood villain who often carried more weight than the hero

Big break & legacy

The most iconic role Mac Mohan played, however, was Sambha, a dacoit, in Sholay. He had just three words to deliver but made them his own. After the film’s release, the makers and the actors marveled at Sambha’s popularity. Later, the film’s director, Ramesh Sippy, remarked that nobody else could have pulled off the line or the look. Javed Akhtar, part of the Salim-Javed duo who wrote the film, agreed: “The way he sat on the hillock, overlooking Gabbar’s den, was a sight to behold.”

Mac Mohan went on to do a string of negative roles in films like Don (1978), Karz (1980) and Satte Pe Satta (1982), among others. He became synonymous with the bad guy’s henchman. He was also the rare actor whose real name was used as his character’s name in most of his films.

The actor, who also happens to be Raveena Tandon’s uncle, was popular in the industry not just for his dialogue delivery, but also his professionalism.

When he died on 10 May 2010, actor and frequent co-star Amitabh Bachchan wrote in his blog: “I worked with him in several films, films that can be identified as being some of the most memorable in my repertoire. Some of the roles he did were evil in nature, quite the opposite of his own personal demeanour. His laughter was full throated and free; a symbol of the free spirit he always depicted.”

After a four-decade long career, one of his last film appearances came in Zoya Akhtar’s Luck By Chance (2009). It was a brief appearance where he played himself. And the line he had? “Poore pachaas hazaar“.

Also read: Lalita Pawar — Bollywood’s wicked mother-in-law who we all loved to hate


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