India’s answer to ‘Laurel and Hardy’ were the duo Gope and Yakub. Gope (Gope Vishandas Kamlani) was an iconic comedian-actor in Indian Cinema. Beginning almost immediately after the release for the first talkie film in 1933 with a small role in ‘Insaan Ya Shaitaan’ (1933) directed by Moti Gidwani, Gope made himself noticed.
He went on to act in over 140 films in a career spanning 24 years from 1933 to 1957. His films continued to release even after his death. Gope was almost as popular as the lead actor himself and was often mentioned among the first credits always as he was a great crowd puller.
His most popular song on screen was ‘Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon kiya hai wahan se telefoon…’ (My beloved has gone to Rangoon) from the film ‘Patanga’, performed by C. Ramchandra for Gope and by Shamshad Begum for Nigar Sultana. The song remains iconic to date.
Yakub Mehboob Khan popularly known as Yakub of Gope-Yakub duo was so popular that often the Film Credits would mention his name as 'And Your Favourite 'Yakub'. His comic pairing with Gope and Agha was enormously popular and the film-makers used their combination in several films.
Prominent among the list were Sagai (1951), Patanga (1949) and Beqasoor (1950) with Yakub and Gope pairing. It is said that Yakub, Prithviraj Kapoor and Chandra Mohan were in the highest pay bracket of their times.
Besides being a comedian, Yakub directed three films, Sagar Ka Sher (The Lion of Sagar), Uski Tamanna in the 1930s, and Aiye in 1949. Sagar Ka Sher was his debut feature in 1937 under the banner of Sagar Movietone. His co-stars in this film were Bibbo, Pesi Patel, Sankatha Prasad, Raja Mehdi, and David. Yakub acted in over 100 films in a career covering 34 years.