This man taught kids Quran in madarsa, fought family to enter Bollywood, has more hits than Shah Rukh, Salman, Aamir

Mohammed Umer Mukri went from being a cleric in a madarsa to the top comedian in Bollywood

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This man taught kids Quran in madarsa, fought family to enter Bollywood, has more hits than Shah Rukh, Salman, Aamir


Over the years, religion and cinema have often been at loggerheads, largely because the latter is considered more frivolous by most. So, it is quite uncommon to see those devoutly religious and working as religious teachers to suddenly uproot their lives and become film stars. This one man did so though. He went from being a cleric teaching in a madarsa to one of the most in-demand actors in Bollywood.

The story of the qazi turned movie star

Mohammed Umer Mukri was born in Uran, erstwhile Bombay Presidency in 1922 in a religious household. His father was a qazi (a Muslim cleric) and wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. And indeed, after his schooling, young Umer did join a madarsa where he would teach children Quran. But his heart was set in the performing arts. Having worked in theatre in school, Umer had developed a taste for the theatrical. He left the madarsa and worked a white collar job for a while. By chance, he met his school mate Yusuf Khan, who was, by now a movie star having been rechristened Dilip Kumar. The superstar helped Umer become an assistant director and eventually an actor. Once in Bollywood, the actor adopted his screen name – Mukri.

Mukri with Amitabh Bachchan

Mukri’s stellar career


Mukri made his acting debut in 1945 with the film Pratima. Of diminutive stature, Mukri came to be known for his comic timing. From the 50s to 70s, he appeared in a number of blockbusters including Mirza Ghalib, Kala Pani, Milan, Padosan, Amar Akbar Anthony, Umrao Jaan, Sharaabi, and Laawaaris among others. Mukri developed a strong bond with Amitabh Bachchan later in his career and appeared in a number of films featuring the superstar. As per reports, Mukri appeared in over 600 films in his 50-year-career, of which over 150 were hits. This number is more than the total hit counts of the three Khans put together. Salman has 40 hits, Shah Rukh 38, and Aamir 22. This gives the three a combined hit count of 110, way below Mukri. Granted Mukri was never the lead in any of his films, but his 600 films and 150 hits is still a stellar record.

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