The Makodi Pehelwan of Chamatkar

Bollywood fans of the late 1990s, early 2000s would remember Razak Khan, with his skeletal frame and wrestler’s gait, playing comedy roles in numerous films


Be it Ninja Chacha from Hello Brother or Fayaz Takkar from Govinda-starrer Ankhiyo Se Goli Maare, Razak Khan made for great so-bad-it’s-good cinema.
Be it Ninja Chacha from Hello Brother or Fayaz Takkar from Govinda-starrer Ankhiyo Se Goli Maare, Razak Khan made for great so-bad-it’s-good cinema.

Mumbai: The death of Razak Khan on Thursday brings an end to Chamatkar (a comedy television series featured on Sony TV) in my mind. He was the last link to the show, for me, after Farooq Sheikh passed away in late 2013. While Khan may be known for a number of comic roles, I remember him as Makodi Pehelwan on Chamatkar that was aired almost two decades ago.

There was no Snapchat, no Whatsapp and no Star World at that time. Outdoor games were mandatory on holidays, coupled with two to three hours of television, as approved by my grandparents. Kids fought for the right spot which was ten steps away from the screen, right in the centre. No getting up, not matter what.

Even as the Internet as a whole seems to have forgotten the show and specially Khan’s work on Chamatkar, I cannot stop but reminisce the summer mornings where I would sit with my siblings and watch it over a glass of unfinished mango shake. I distinctly remember that time between 9 am and 11 am, when we were allowed to watch three shows on TV. I Dream of Jeanie, Bewitched and Chamtakar, all three about characters with supernatural powers. Released in 1998, Chamatkar was the Indian attempt to display an ordinary man having powers to hear people’s mind.

Farooq Sheik played the lead. His character would put his thumbs in his ears with the index fingers pointing towards the sky, like an antenna. With this, he could hear what the other person was thinking. He helped the police and general public investigate problems, with the help of his efficient assistant Makodi Pehelwan (Khan). With his skeletal frame, he had the gait of a wrestler. Makodi, almost always dressed in an olive green vest, was probably the funniest thing on the show. But when it mattered, he got serious and came to his boss’s rescue.

In one particularly hilarious episode, Sheikh’s character on the show lost his powers and Makodi took it upon himself to do everything under the sun to bring them back, not because he was concerned about his boss, but because he hated being jobless.

If you are a fan of Bollywood between the late 1990s and early 2000s, you would remember Khan playing similar roles in a number of films. Let it be Ninja Chacha from Salman Khan’s equally hammy Hello Brother (1999) or his role as Fayaz Takkar from the corny Govinda-starrer Ankhiyo Se Goli Maare (2002), Khan made for great so-bad-it’s-good cinema.

Here’s hoping I find a secret stash of Chamatkar on the internet, just to watch Makodi’s antics one more time.

There is enough mango shake at home.

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