Very seldom do we see a comedian in Indo-Pakistani films who doesn’t have you in stitches, but brings a hearting smile to your face. Late Nirala was one such actor.
Nirala sahib belonged to the generation of comedians that brought the house down with their pun-replete, double entendre dialogue, namely Zareef, Lehri and Munawwar Zareef. But Nirala made himself distinct by assuming the role of loyal sidekick, always sporting a sheepish smile on an innocuous personality – a complete oaf, devoid of any kind of insidious trait.
Nirala’s film career began with director A.S Siddiqui’s Aur Bhi Ghum Hain in early ‘60s, in a typical second-fiddle part, meant to rib-tickle the cine-goer. Immediately afterwards, the comedian was inundated with a series of offers. Amidst a galaxy of talented hansaney walley, he didn’t find it hard to carve a niche for himself. Nirala’s fame received a big shot in the arm when he began making films alongside the chocolate hero, Waheed Murad. As his wafadar saathi he appeared in huge blockbusters like Heera Aur Pathar and Arman. To date, these two flicks are remembered as master pieces that Pakistan Film Industry has ever come up with.
One important aspect of Nirala’s career graph is that the majority of films he was part of were made in Karachi – at the time, Karachi’s film activities were at their peak. These movies include the likes of Merey Bachey Meri Aankhein and Rootha Na Karo had Kamal as the protagonist. But some-how film aficionados find it relatively easy to recall the work that he’s done with Waheed.
As time whizzed by, like the chocolate hero, Nirala’s film progress began to halt. In late ‘70s and early ‘80s the film offers turned few and far between. In the ‘80s Nirala’s health also began to deteriorate. This didn’t extinguish his artistic flame. A couple of years before his death (in 1989), he acted in Omar Sharif’s famous stage play, Bakra Qiston Per. His role of a kinky old Nawab, who has this habit of uttering the world adaab at the drop of a hat, was widely appreciated. Nirala sahib is not with us anymore, but the body of work that he has produced will always remind us of dedicated acting and decent comedy.