Guest post: Bhudo Advani

I first met reader Arunkumar Deshmukh over at Atul’s Song A Day blog, where he continually bowls us all over with his crystal-clear memory of pretty much every Hindi film ever made, it seems. No matter how obscure the movie, Arunkumarji can give you the plot and many other details of its making. He has also been instrumental in helping me identify character actors, so you can imagine how glad I was when he emailed to say that he had written a piece on comedian and character actor Bhudo Advani after interviewing Mr. Advani’s son, a neighbor and friend. There is so much “misinformation” about people and events in cinema history out there that it is nice to get the inside scoop from a family member.

Mr. Advani worked in cinema from 1933 until 1977—a whopping 44 years—and I thank Arunkumarji for bringing him some much deserved attention!

Enjoy this look into his life and career.

Bhudo Advani (17 August 1905 – 25 July 1985)

One Mr. Ramesh Advani came to live in our building in 1992. He was a good looking, jovial person who soon became friendly with all members. Recently when I was talking to him casually, he told me that he was the son of Bhudo Advani, the Hindi film actor. I was shocked that despite spending so many years with him he was telling me NOW about it. Anyway, as a writer on old films I was keen to know from him about the yesteryear comedian Bhudo Advani. He graciously agreed to an interview and this is what he told me.

Bhudo Advani’s real name was Doulatram Advani. Born in Hyderabad (Sindh) in 1905, he was doing all sorts of dramas, stage shows etc. from his teens. He specialised in doing female roles. After matriculation, he came to Bombay to seek roles in films. Here he met Mohan Bhavnani, a producer also from Hyderabad, who gave him a break. His first movie with a minor role was Afzal (1933). Finding that he was good at comedy, he henceforth mostly stuck to comic roles.

From 1933 to 1940 he did 35 films. Notable among them were Jeevan Lata, Ladies Only, The Mill (Gareeb Pariwar), Navjeevan, Postman (Abhilasha), Vasavdatta etc. He got married in 1939. He had 7 children, 2 sons (one of whom died early) and 5 daughters. In Mumbai, he acquired a big flat on nominal rent at Tardeo in a building on the premises of Central Studios, the biggest studio in Bombay at the time with 6 stages in all. His flat was so big that the reception of one daughter’s wedding for 100 people was thrown in its drawing room!

Director Mehboob used Central Studios for shootings (his studio came up only in 1942). Mehboob was allotted one makeup room for his artists on the same floor where Advani lived. Thus, he became acquainted with many leading actors and actresses.

Advani was a very simple man. There are two reasons for his nickname “Bhudo”. One is that he was called “Buddu”, which means one who is too simple; and the other that he was called “Buddho”, meaning old (due to his lack of teeth). Whatever the case, he became Bhudo consequently in film credits and accepted this name stoically. From 1940 to 1950 he acted in another 35 films, including Anmol Ghadi, Anokhi Ada, Meri Kahani, Amaanat, Bisvi Sadi, Dukhiyaari, Ismat, Pooja, Shauhar etc. From 1950 to 1960 he did 20 films including Meena Bazar, Aadmi, Aakhri Dao, Boot Polish, Shri 420, Jagte Raho, Ab Dilli Door Nahin, Madhumati, Madhur Milan, Miss Coca Cola, Qaidi No.911, Aankhen, Bewafa Saudagar etc.

He was a strict family man and kept his children away, warning them never to enter films. From 1960 onwards his films became fewer as new comedians entered the industry, and his financial condition became delicate. However his only son Ramesh Advani got into Dena Bank and after bank nationalisation things improved considerably. All his daughters married well and settled happily. In the 60s he did only 5 films like Anuradha and Khamoshi. His last film was Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977).

He left the Tardeo flat and came to Versova in 1978. Now that there were no films, he used to sit in his brother’s Coronation Footwear chain of shops at Grant Road for 6 years.

Bhudo Advani died in 1985 peacefully. He had few friends, but fellow comedian Mirza Musharraf was among them. In his heyday, Bhudo Advani was in great demand. He averaged 3 films a month during the 1930s and 40s, a very high number; and was very friendly with Motilal, Devendra Goel, Shekhar, and Mukesh, who stayed with him in his early days. Nobody from the film industry attended his funeral. Surprisingly, the news of his death first appeared in Pakistan in the Karachi newspapers and only later in the Times of India.

In total, he acted in 102 Hindi, 4 Sindhi and 2 Gujarathi films. He had a major role in Abana, India’s first Sindhi film. In two of his Sindhi films, his own real-life wife portrayed his movie wife.

Memsaab adds:
In his wonderful book “Eena Meena Deeka: The Story of Hindi Film Comedy” author Sanjit Narwekar has this to say about Bhudo Advani:

Apart from Ranjit, Sagar was the other company in the early talkie era which specialised in comedies. One of the Sagar staples was Bhudo Advani, who endeared himself with the audience because of his toothless smile [...] Actually he was more of a character actor who found himself saddled with comic dialogues. He made his debut in films in 1933 with Mohan Bhavnani’s Ajanta Cinetone, playing the main comedian in the fantasy Maya Jaal [...] None of [his early films] were notable, but he did get noticed by the Sagar bosses who invited him to join the company which was slowly gearing up for comedies.

The fact that he was an important addition to the repertoire is borne out by the fact that he starred in almost all their important films from the very start: Badami’s Dr. Madhurika (1935), Mehboob’s Deccan Queen (1936), Luhar’s Do Diwane (1936). He soon became a Mehboob favorite and starred in all his Sagar films: Manmohan (1936), Jagirdar (1937), Hum Tum Aur Woh (1938). So much so that he followed Mehboob to National Studios, which was formed after Sagar had collapsed [...] He is credited with having staged the first full length Sindhi play Under Secretary (with S.P. Menghani) in Bombay in the immediate post-Partition period.

(Photo at left and quote reproduced courtesy of Sanjit Narwekar)

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81 Comments to “Guest post: Bhudo Advani”

  1. I am very thankful to your site that you bring news about our young age actor Bhudo advent. They may be forgotten for them who lost interest in old films but fan like us will never forget. Memsaab please bring more story like this. Thanks.

  2. Great job, Greta, and thanks to Mr Deshmukh for the post. These are the people who are the salt of the industry, the ones who quietly keep it working. How nice to read about people who we are familiar with, because we have seen them in so many movies – in passing.

    • Isn’t it true? I love these people who worked for 4 or 5 DECADES (and longer!) and are in so so many films. I think it’s pretty unique to Hindi cinema (I have no facts to back this up though) that the same people played the same kind of roles for anywhere from thirty to sixty years.

  3. Great information about a forgotten actor ! And that too from a first hand source like the son of the artist himself.

    Mr Arunkumar Deshmukh is adding lots and lots of original and authentic information about little known moviees, actors and little known facts. I in my blog call him our inhouse encyclopedia, where he has given us information about as many as 100 obscure movies.

    One can sometimes come across people who are connected with well known/ not so well known film personalities. For instance, I am told that O P Nayyar’s brother was a doctor who did his practice in Etarsi (Madhya Pradesh) in 1960s. My brother in law, then a kid, got himself injured while playing in school and he was treated by O P Nayyar’s brother in 1960s.

    B S Kalla is a lesser known music director of 1950s. His nephew was a doctor and he was living in Baroda a few years ago.

  4. OMG, I’m a big fan of Bhudo. One of the most unique actors of the past.

  5. I have to echo Memsaab’s remark – Arunkumar Zindabad! It is amazing to see what a storehouse of information he is, no matter how obscure the movie or how old, he knows the story and can come up with a couple of paragraphs of information. He is a true old movie aficionado, and I suppose soon Memsaab will also be one, considering all the information (and knick-knacks) she is gathering! Thank you, Memsaab, for taking the initiative and gathering all this info and presenting it to us.

  6. This is an awesome post. Have shared it on facebook.

  7. how is this name pronounced in hindi?

  8. By God, I never recall seeing this actor in any of the movies, nor did I know he existed. Thanks, Greta for introducing us to so many “new” people all the time. You’ve really made a huge difference to the way we watch films.

    I’ve been dying to know lesser known details of my fave actor – Dharmendra.

    For ex: he came to Bombay in 1958, but his debut movie was released a good 2 years later. What was he doing during this time? In an interview earlier, he had mentioned that J. P. Dutta reminds him of Mehboob Khan, Guru Dutt and Raj Kapoor. I know he worked with Rajji only in “Mera Naam Joker” (1970). How did he get in touch with the other two?

    I know it will take time, but is there any way you can put up a post on him? I am sure Arunkumar ji will be more than willing to help.

    • He met Abrar Alvi and Guru Dutt at talent contest organised by Filmfare. Guru Dutt was a member of the jury. Guru Dutt couldn’t attend the final round because of a court case. All the other contestants, according to Alvi, tried to look like Dev. Dharmendra was the only original, because of his crew cut, whcih was forced upon him by his father. He won the contest. Guru Dutt showed interest in his careeer and recommended him to some other directors. Dharmendra was very grateful and when Guru Dutt films was in doldrums after Guru Dutt’s death he bailed out Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi, by giving them dates and accepting a nominal fee for his role.

  9. Thank you Arunji,Greta ji for sharing information about my favourite actor.

  10. Arunkumarji is absolutely awesome!!! There’s hardly an old song on Atul’s blog that he does not know the background of. :-) I thoroughly enjoy reading his comments there – they are very insightful. He is a veritable treasure-house of old Bollywood trivia, indeed THE encyclopaedia on the subject.

    My immediate association of Bhudo Advani is with the beautiful “lapak jhapak” from Bootpolish. I did not know his name then but the face was so striking that it remained etched in my mind long after I’d seen the movie. I did not know he had had such a long career though.

    Thanks, Greta, for sharing info about him on your blog. LOVE reading about yesteryear artistes, especially those who are rarely talked about in the news and magazines but have done their bit to give us so much entertainment through their performances.

    And a big thank you to Arunkumarji of course! Here’s the Bootpolish song – you’ve got to love it! :-)

    • Raja, thanks for this song! First of all it was a treat to see Bhulo Advani andmore than that watch him dance. It looks as if he was enjoying himself. The camaraderie between the companions is palpable! Just wonderful!

      More than that I am once again overwhelmed by Manna Dey’s rendition of the song. Just when I think I can’t love him more, up comes a song which makes my love for him grow and my respect for him. I won’t be surprised if it really started raining outside.

      But all the same not only the antics of Advaniji and his companions made me laugh, but also the lyrics, with which I can identify!

      Thank you for posting this song!

    • Hilarious!!!!!! David is very funny (so is Bhudo of course). I don’t think I’ve ever watched Boot Polish, need to remedy that.

    • Raja ji,
      Thank you for your all kind words.This gives me new desire and strength to continue.
      boot polish VDO is very funny indeed.Thanks.
      -AD

  11. Thank you, Arunkumar, for the interview. And Memsaab for hosting it. It’s fascinating to read about the character artistes who made up the texture of our films, particularly the old ones, where character artistes had significant roles, and were not just props in the scene. I didn’t know anything at all about Bhudo Advani, so I really appreciated this.

  12. Bizarre bit of trivia–he lost his teeth because he voluntarily removed them for a role. no confirmation, perhaps Arun can tell us

    • Sidharth ji,
      I asked his son,Ramesh ji and he told me that the teeth were not removed.

      According to him it is due to the genes in their family that there will be less hair and the front teeth will be lost early.Bhudo Advani had all his side teeth intact till last,so he had no problem in eating food.

      Surprisingly his son Ramesh ji,who looks handsome even in his 60s,has hair and all the teeth,including front ones.However his some next generation children do have this problem.
      -AD

      • A friend of mine’s father had all his teeth removed so that he wouldn’t have to deal with them later when he was old and probably without dental insurance (or so he said)—crazy!

        Arunkumar, maybe you could supply us with a photograph of Rameshji? :) I am relieved to know that Bhudo could eat, I was a little worried about that. He is absolutely hilarious though.

        • Memsaab ji,
          By the time I returned to Mumbai,I learnt that Ramesh has already left for Singapore again.He shuttles between Singapore and Rumania (with Son and Daughter respectively),after he lost his wife.I had asked him his Photo,but,shy as he is,he had declined.However,I will try again in his next visit to Mumbai.
          -AD

  13. Memsaab ji,

    Thank you for making this article available to many many lovers of old films.
    As I will be away from Mumbai till 16th Dec,I shall read and reply all the comments only after that.
    Thanks,once again.
    -AD

  14. Arunkumarji, THANK YOU, for giving a name to the face one encountered often on screen.
    It is thanks to people like you that this knowledge and information gets passed on to future generation.
    A heartfelt thanks!

    Thanks also to Greta for the info from the book Eena Meena Dika and for providing the blog to this post and many more informative posts in the past. Will have to acquire the book on my next trip to Bombay.

  15. I thought you would be interested in knowing this – on the other hand, a veteran like you probably knows it already – Eros Entertainment is having a huge sale of DVDs and I spotted titles like Mahal, Pyaasa, Kaagaz ke Phool, CID, Nau Do Gyaarah, Baazi, among others, and the prices seem like a steal – they range between $0.99 to $3.99. It is a one day sale so you will have to order today. I plan to go through it slowly and then place my order.

    • I have never placed an order directly with them—are they reliable?

      • Greta, the DVDs come on time; they are packed well. The quality *is* pretty decent – much better than usual. However, *if* you have a problem, be warned that getting anyone to talk to from customer service is almost impossible. For what it is worth, if you spend a few days (really!) trying, and finally manage to get somebody, then they are pretty good about replacing stuff. They sent a whole bunch of DVDs to my old address once; even though I’d given my new one on the order form. I’d the devil’s own time trying to find out what to do about it; finally, I got hold of one chap who actually replaced the whole order free of cost.

  16. Thank you Arunkumar and memsaab. I remember the face of Bhudo Advani in Madhumati which I saw some time in 1974 or 75. It is depressing to see all the actors who acted in hundreds of movies and entertained millions disappearing without due respect.

    • He was absolutely HYSTERICAL in Madhumati. I so enjoyed watching that scene again yesterday while getting screencaps. In Anuradha too, I was helpless with laughter—he and Asit Sen were just perfect together.

      • ooh, Memsaab — you need to see Jagte Raho! Bhudo has a short but hilarious part in that too. I can’t stop laughing when he comes on screen. :D

        Also, to draw attention to another forgotten actor the caretaker person in Madhumati in that scene is Baij Sharma.

    • kaviraj ji,
      Thanks for your kind words.
      There is a story about his role in Madhumati,which I learnt from other source-NOT from Ramesh ji.
      Bhudo was called by Bimal Roy for the Opening Premier of Madhumati.When he went and watched the movie,he was shocked,because the entire scene depicting him with Johnny Walker was deleted from the film.
      He came home fuming and wrote a letter to Bimal Roy.Though there was no reply,his scene was restored soon,to his joy and relief.
      It is difficult to confirm the authenticity of such stories,but they add to the life of one’s bio.
      -AD

  17. Great post, thank you both :)

  18. Love this post. I often heard the late cinematographer Kamal Bose ( he was a regular in Bimal Roy productions and also photographed director Asit Sen’s films and later Feroz Khan’s films) mentioned Bhudo Advani and my interest was piqued. Back in the eighties Doordarshan which was the only channel in the country telecast some wonderful black and white films and it did not take me long to identify him. The screen caps from that memorable scene from Madhumati feautring Johny Walker reminded me how hilarious that scene was. It was excellently directed by Bimal Roy and of course Advani and Johny Walker were at their best.

  19. You know Greta, your blog is fast becoming the first (and sadly in some cases, only) site that comes up when one does a Google search on anyone connected with Hindi films. Your blog is a treasure chest.
    Many thanks to Arunkumarji for the adding this latest gem to the treasure. I loved reading about Bhudo Advani and I hope Arunkumarji continues to share his memories and knowledge with us.

    • OUR blog, Shalini! So many people contribute to it, it would be nothing without all of you. I’m lucky to have you for instance as a go-to person for obscure Hindi films :D

    • Shalini ji,
      Thank you for liking the article.
      As you said,I am trying to write about another prolific but less known actor shortly.I hope it works out,because it is difficult to make the sons or daughters to talk about their father,as they feel they were neglected so far and what is the use of talking now.
      -AD

  20. Now I have to go and find the scene where Bhudo Advani comes in Madhumati.

    I have ordered DVDs from Eros once in the past, they were okay, but didn’t have subtitles. I noticed today that some seem to have subtitles, so I guess one would have to check before ordering. Since I don’t need them, I usually don’t bother with them.

  21. Enlightening post. Had seen him often without really knowing who he is. I often find ‘Character’ actors interesting, especially in older films where ensemble acting was given more respect. They put so much of themselves in the little screen time they have and they are often so ‘in character’. Their performances are like little stars in the film.

    Love the snowflakes :)

  22. But for your blog, would have died without knowing the name of the character I had seen in many old movies, including Madhumati and Boot Polish, and remained in my memory. Amar Rahe, Budho Advani, through your blog

  23. Thank you Arunkumarji for the lovely write-up. I am his only niece (youngest sister’s daughter) He would always say to me, tu aai to mujhe mama bana diya:))

    Thanks for the wonderful trip down memory lane. He was an awesome man. A great soul.

  24. Memsaab ji,
    Thank you very much for an excellent article on Bhudo,who needed an exposure to the present generation.
    Thanks also to Arunkumar Deshmukh ji for this effort.
    I know his expertise in old films and music.I have followed up his regular comments with Atul ji’s blog and also his comments and articles in Cineplot,Songs of yore,Harveypam,Dusted off and few others.
    He is undoubtedly an unique personality,who gives us lot of info on vintage films.As Atul ji says,he is an encyclopaedia of information.
    I look forward to such more articles in future.
    Thanks once again.
    -Boodhemiyan,Saudi Arabia

  25. Great post. I’ve always wondered what happened to some of these character artists. Hopefully there will be more stories like this in the future. Someone should really put together an almanac of these actors/actresses.

  26. Memsaab ji,
    I have discovered one more fact about BHUDO ADVANI,which even his son was not aware of !
    Bhudo Advani has sung a song in film Darshan-1941 “Koi kab tak rahe akela,Mausam aaya albela”.
    The Music Director was no less than NAUSHAD,and lyrics were by Pt.Indra.
    This was a duet with Miss Jyoti-the film’s Heroine,along with Prem Adeeb-Film’s hero.
    The Gramophone record No. is GP-1048.
    -AD

  27. Deshmukhji,

    I have sent you some more photographs of my grandfather Shree Bhudo Advani on your email as well a couple of my fathers Photo Mr Ramesh Advani also.

    Regards,

    Vinod Advani.

  28. memsaabji,

    As per your request I have sent you the photograps of my father Bhudo Advani. and some of mine as well.

    Regards

    Ramesh Advani

  29. now i have a name for the face i have seen in old films..its so nice of Arun kumarji to write an article on Buddo Advani.. and ur blog is avery good platform which showcases the facts about the Hindi FilmIndustry..

  30. My father used to tell me that he had had his teeth removed at a young age so that he could do the “old man comedian” act more realistically. My father always highlighted this as the ultimate dedication to one’s profession.

  31. IT WAS A PLEASANT SURPRISE TO KNOW ABOUT LOVELY N INTERESTING INFORMATION ABOUT RAMESH ADVANI’S FATHER SHRI BHUDDO ADVANI, AFTER SUCH A LONG TIME.
    AS RAMESH ADVANI IS OUR FAMILY FRIEND SINCE 30 YEARS, AND I WAS UNAWARE OF THIS NEWS THANKS A MILLION TO MEMSAAB AND SHRI ARUNKUMAR .

    PRAKASH TALREJA MUMBAI

  32. The films Shree 420 and Jagte Raho had the unforgettable actors Nemo and Bhudo Adwani. For the last so many years, I had been searching in vain for some details about these two veterans. But our indifference for the glorious artists and apathy and letharginess for preservance of old prints of the silent and early talkie era has been the cause of loss of such golden treasure. How I wished all the Bhudo Adwani’s films would have been preserved.
    My sincere thousandfold thanks to the persons who have brought this to the internet.

    Soorya Kant M Ojha

  33. Excellent article with superb information, thanks Arunkumar Deshmukh Ji & Memsaab.

  34. Thank you,kusum ji,for your kind words.

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