Noor Mohammed Charlie

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Noor Mohammed Charlie
CharlieMusafir (1940).jpg
Charlie in Musafir (1940)
Born Noor Mohammed Memon
1 July 1911
Ranavav village, Porbandar, Saurashtra, India
Died 30 June 1983(1983-06-30) (aged 71)
Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
Occupation Actor, singer, director
Years active 1925–1969
Children 3

Noor Mohammed Charlie (1911–1983), popularly known as Charlie was an actor born on 1 July 1911 in Ranavav village, Porbandar, Saurashtra, India.[1][2] Best known for his comedy roles, he was the first 'star' comedian and has been referred to as India's first comedy king.[3] He acted with several top actresses of those days as a comic hero. Being a great fan of Charlie Chaplin, he took the name "Charlie" as his screen name following the release of his popular film The Indian Charlie (1933).[4] He had a successful career in pre-partition India from 1925–1946. His shift to Pakistan following partition saw his career going down with less than 12 films.[3] He shifted to the US to live with his son and returned later to Pakistan where he died in 1983.[1]

Early years[edit]

Noor Mohammed was born into a Memon family.[5] Hating school as a young boy, Noor Mohammed often played truant to visit cinema theatres. At an early age he started working at repairing broken umbrellas.[3] In 1925 he was employed by the Imperial Film Company at Rs. 40 a month when he walked boldly in announcing that he could sing.[3]


Charlie made his debut in Krishna Film Company's Akalna Bardan (1928) directed by Prafulla Ghosh. At this time he was billed as Noor Mohammed and did other films like Lekh Par Mekh and Vasant Leela. In 1929 he was signed up by Elfin Film Company for The Indian Charlie which was however not released till 1933.[6] His Ezra Mir directed film Zarina in 1932 with the advent of Talkies made him a popular actor. He acted under Ezra Mir in one more film Premi Pagal (1933) and with Sarvottam Badami in Chandrahasa (1933). These films made him very popular with the audience.[3] Finally, in 1933 The Indian Charlie was released which "became such a huge sensation", catapulting him to stardom.[4] The success of the film was the reason for the change of name to Noor Mohammed "Charlie", and in later films as just "Charlie".

In 1934, Charlie joined Ranjit Film Company acting in successful films like Toofani Taruni (1934), Toofan Mail (1934) and Barrister's Wife (1935). He often co-starred with other famous comedians like Dixit and Ghory.[7] The 1940s saw him acting in several hit films. Musafir (1940), directed by Chaturbhuj Doshi, in which Charlie played a foreign-returned prince who on his return finds his kingdom in a mess, became very popular. Other films of this time include Dhandora (1941), which he directed, A. R. Kardar's Pagal (1941), Jayant Desai's Bansari (1943), Mehboob Khan's Taqdeer (1943), Jayant Desai's Manorama (1944), Mahesh Chandra's Chand Tara (1945), Zia Sarhadi's Yateem (1945) and Phani Majumdar's Insaaf (1946).[4] He starred with top actresses like Swarnalata, Mehtab and Leela Chitnis. He sang with artists like Suraiya and Amirbai Karnataki. At the height of his success he charged more than Prithviraj Kapoor and other top stars of that time.[3]

Career in Pakistan[edit]

Following the Partition of India in 1947, Charlie opted to live in Pakistan. His first film in Pakistan was the Daud Chand directed Mundri (1949) in Punjabi. He then did Nazeer Ajmeri's Beqarar (1950), both films were well appreciated.[5] Though he went on to act in about a dozen Urdu, Sindhi and Punjabi films in Pakistan, not all were successful.[1][4] He came back to India in 1960 and acted in three films; Zameen Ke Taare (1960), Zamana Badal Gaya (1961) and Akeli Mat Jaiyo (1963). According to Sanjit Narwekar in his book Eena Meena Deeka: The Story of Hindi Film Comedy, the Indian Government at that time refused Charlie citizenship and he had to return to Pakistan. After acting in a few more Lollywood films, Charlie went to US to join his son.[8]

Family and death[edit]

Noor Mohammed Charlie had two sons and a daughter. He returned to Pakistan from US and died on 30 June 1983 in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan.[1] His one son was a renowned film and TV actor, Latif Charlie, who died on 19 July 2011 at the age of 75.[9] Noor Mohammed's grandson (Latif Charlie's Son) is Yawar Charlie, who was a former actor having acted in TV episodes of JAG and General Hospital and now specialises in West Hollywood CA Homes and Property Listings.[10][11]


Chandulal Shah, the owner of Ranjit Film Company stated in one of his interviews that Charlie "ruled the roost" among comedians.[12] According to film historian Harish Raghuvanshi as quoted in Times of India, "Noor Mohammed developed a style of comedy of his own, which influenced great comedians like Johnny Walker and Mehmood."[3] Abrar Alvi mentions that Johnny Walker was a "great admirer" of Charlie and copied his body style and "mannerisms".[13]

He was the first comedian to have songs picturised on him. His "Palat Tera Dhyan Kidhar Hai", under the music direction of Naushad and with lyrics by Arshad Gujarati remains popular with copies in later films. His other popular song was "Zindagi Hai Fareb Fareb Se Nibhaaye Jaa" from Chand Tara (1945).[14] This trend of a singing comedian was later picked up by Johnny Walker and Mehmood. His film Barrister's Wife (1935) had the first filmi qawwali picturised on him to appear in Indian Cinema, "Nazariya Taane Hai Teer Kaman", composed by Rewashankar, and "Banne Khan", with lyrics by Pandit Narayan Prasad Betaab.[15]



Year Film Director
1932 Sharafi Loot D. N. Madhok
1932 Zarina Ezra Mir
1932 Premi Pagal Ezra Mir
1933 The Indian Charlie
1933 Chandrahasa Sarvottam Badami
1934 Mohabbat Ki Kasauti P. C. Barua
1934 Toofan Mail Jayant Desai
1934 Toofani Taruni Chandulal Shah
1934 Sitamgarh Jayant Desai
1934 Farzand-e-Hind aka Leatherface Vijay Bhatt
1934 Nadira Jayant Desai
1935 Noor-e-Watan Jayant Desai
1935 Keemti Aansu Chandulal Shah
1935 Raat Ki Rani
College Kanya
1935 Barrister's Wife Chandulal Shah
1935 Desh Dasi Chandulal Shah
1936 Sipahi Ki Sajni Chandulal Shah
1936 Laheri Laila Jayant Desai
1936 Rangila Raja Jayant Desai
1936 Raj Ramani Jayant Desai
1936 Jwalamukhi D. N. Madhok
1936 Chalak Chor Raja Sandow
1936 Matlabi Duniya Jayant Desai
1936 Dil Ka Daku D. N. Madhok
1937 Dil Farosh D. N. Madhok
1937 Pardesi Pankhi Chandulal Shah
1937 Shama Parwana D. N. Madhok
1937 Zambo M. D. Bhavnani
Zameen Ka Chand Jayant Desai
1938 Secretary Chaturbhuj Doshi
1938 Ghunghatwali Kanjibhai Rathod
1938 Rikshawala Ezra Mir
1938 Bazigar Manibhai Vyas
1939 Ban Ki Chidiya Jayant Desai
1939 Nadi Kinare Manibhai Vyas
1939 Thokar A. R. Kardar
1940 Aaj Ka Hindustan Jayant Desai
1940 Achhut Chandulal Shah
1940 Musafir Chandulal Shah
1941 Dhandora Charlie
1941 Pagal A. R. Kardar
1943 Taqdeer Mehboob Khan
1943 Sanjog A. R. Kardar
1943 Bansari Jayant Desai
1943 Pagli Shankar Mehta
1944 Raunaq Dwarka Khosla
1944 Manorama Jayant Desai
1944 Us Paar Chimanlal M. Luhar
1945 Ghazal Zahur Raja
1945 Chand Tara Mahesh Chandra
1945 Yateem Zia Sarhadi
1946 Aayi Bahar Shankar Mehta
1946 Dulha Manibhai Vyas
1946 Insaf Phani Majumdar
1960 Zameen Ke Taare Chandulal Shah
1961 Zamana Badal Gaya Jayant Desai
1963 Akeli Mat Jaiyo Nandlal Jaswantlal


Year Film Language Director
1950 Beqarar Urdu Nazir Ajmeri
1951 Akeli Urdu M. M. Mehra
1956 Umar Marvi Sindhi Sheikh Hassan
1958 Pardesi Sindhi S. A. Ghaffar
1958 Sitaron Ki Dunya Urdu M. H. Mohib
1958 Prai Zamin Urdu Sheikh Hassan
1965 Pilpili Sahib Urdu Aslam Irani
1967 Kafir Urdu M. Saleem
1969 Pyar Ki Jeet Urdu Jameel Mirza


  1. ^ a b c d "Noor Mohammed Charlie". Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  2. ^ Babu, Sathish. "Noor Mohammed Charlie". Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Khan, Saeed (1 July 2012). "India's 1st comedy king". Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. TOI. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d Roychoudhury, Amborish (18 May 2013). "Laughing Out Loud". Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. The Times of India Crest Edition. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  5. ^ a b Shahid, Zulqarnain. "Charlie". cineplot. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  6. ^ Narwekar, Sanjit (2005). The Story of Hindi Film Comedy –The Indian Charlie. India: Rupa Publications. p. 21. ISBN 9788129108593. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  7. ^ Narwekar, p. 23
  8. ^ Narwekar, p. 29
  9. ^ "Latif Charlie will be missed" (Inpaper Magazine). Dawn Media Group. 30 July 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  10. ^ Yalamanchili, Pavani. "Hot News Mix". The Aerogram. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  11. ^ Charlie, Yawar. "Yawar Charlie". PropertyMinder. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  12. ^ Narwekar, p. 27
  13. ^ Saran, Alvi., Sathya, Abrar. (2008). Ten Years with Guru Dutt: Abrar Alvi's Journey. India: Penguin Books India. p. 94. ISBN 9780670082216.
  14. ^ Narwekar, p. 26
  15. ^ Singh, Surjit. "1935 Article". Surjit Singh. Retrieved 23 August 2014.

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