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Utpal Dutt Versus Boman Irani Versus Paresh Rawal

Strange comparison? I feel these three are the greatest character actors that ever hit the hindi film industry. So who was the best of them all? Well, we need to take a closer look at their careers and work to decide this.

Utpal Dutt was a massive talent. People mostly remember him for the delightful Hrishikesh Mukharji and Basu Chatterji comedies such as Naram Garam, Shaukeen, Golmal, Rang Birangi and Guddi. The characters he portrayed in these films remain more influential than the lead players of the films. However there was a lot more to Utpal Dutt’s acting than just comedy. I still cannot forget the chilling villain in the Vinod Khanna and Shabana Aazami starrer Shaque. Apart from having acted in more than 200 films in various languages, he could speak 8 languages; in the beginning of his career he directed more than hundred different plays. He played many serious roles in Bengali films directed by noted directors such as Mrinal Sen and Satyajit Ray. The most notable out of them being Bhuvan Shome, that got him a national award. He also worked in a couple of English movies from Merchant Ivory productions. This article has limitations in describing the brilliance of Utpal Dutt. Just the sheer range of characters he played was mesmerizing. He even played some villains with a comical tinge like in Barsat Ki Ek Raat and The Great Gambler.

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Utpal Dutt

Boman Irani is relatively new and is much younger than Utpal Dutt. He is a talented actor from a different generation altogether. But one thing common in them was that they both started their careers in theatre. Boman gained fame in the 2003 comedy classic Munnabhai MBBS. His funny villain was a memorable performance. He also appeared in the sequel to the film called Lage Raho Munnabhai. He earned his first Filmfare award for the best supporting actor in 3 Idiots in a role similar to Munnabhai. He was nominated for the award thrice before. He also recently got conferred a citation from Canadian government.

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Paresh Rawal

The third actor and really the only competition to the great Utpal Dutt as the greatest character actor of all time is Paresh Rawal. Paresh Rawal made his acting in Hindi films in 1984 with Holi. He basically played villains and supporting roles throughout 80s and 90s. The first time I saw him him was in a cameo villainous role in the brilliantly made Rahul Rawail film Arjun starring Sunny Deol. It was a small but effective role and made him popular with audiences. He has won five fimfare awards in addition to the national award he won for Sir and Woh Chokari; to date in different categories such as villain, supporting actor and comedian. The roles that achieved greatest accolades for him include Ketan Mehta’s Sardar, Tamanna, Hera Pheri and Hangama.

All brilliant actors these three but for me the best one remains Utpal Dutt and I will rate Paresh Rawal as number two. This is not to say that there were no other great character actors over the years in hindi film industry; there were many in fact including Amrish Puri, Anupam Kher, Pran, Motilal, Rehman and Om Prakash just to name a few. But the best? It was undoubtedly Utpal Dutt!

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Boman Irani