Thursday, October 18, 2007


After writing about Iqbal Theba's appearance in this week's episode of 'Chuck', I decided to take another look at his credits in the IMDb. I knew years ago that I would write him up eventually for his work as a NYC cabbie in several sitcoms from the 1990s. And to that list, I could add a few other shows where his character remained nameless, known only by his occupation, which could theoretically be the same guy as the Cabbie.

But he's also well represented in the medical profession in New York City, having played doctors in three different sitcoms. His doctor is named in only one of those shows, so we could make the assumption that he is Dr. Sundram for all three sitcoms.

- The One Hundredth (1998) TV Episode .... Joey's Doctor

"Everybody Loves Raymond"
- Golf (1997) TV Episode .... Doctor Sundram

"Ned and Stacey"
- Gut Feeling (1996) TV Episode .... Doctor

So it could be that Dr. Sundram is the identical cousin - a TV staple - of the cabbie whom Iqbal Theba played in five different sitcoms.

"Mad About You"
- The City (1994) TV Episode .... Cabbie #1

"The George Carlin Show"
- George Expresses Himself (1994) TV Episode .... Cabbie
- George Really Does It This Time (1994) TV Episode .... Inzamamulhaq Siddiqui
- George Gets Hoist by His Own Petard (1994) TV Episode .... Inzamamulhaq Siddiqui
- George Speaks His Mind (1994) TV Episode .... Inzamamulhaq Siddiqui
- George Tells the Truth (1995) TV Episode .... Inzamamulhaq Siddiqui

During his first appearance on the show, Siddiqui mentioned that back in his country he was a doctor. So both cousins went into the same occupation back home, but only Sundram was able to make that transition once they emigrated to America. Who knows? Perhaps Siddiqui was able to later overcome whatever hurdles were keeping him from getting back into the medical field.

(I refrained from suggesting that Siddiqui and Sundram were one and the same character because not only were the names different, - for which a splainin could always be fabricated - but also because the timelines overlap.)

"Too Something"
- Eric's Book (1996) TV Episode .... The Cabbie

"Can't Hurry Love"
- The Elizabeth Taylor Episode (1996) TV Episode .... Cabbie

"Caroline in the City"
- Caroline and the Critics (1997) TV Episode .... Koothrappally, the Cabbie

Now, 'Can't Hurry Love' doesn't have Theba listed in their contribution to the "Elizabeth Taylor Night" on CBS, but I remember him being in it. During the episode, the show's characters realized they didn't have enough money for the cab fare so they rooted about in the back of the taxi to find spare change. And that's when they found the string of black pearls belonging to La Liz, which Fran Fine had lost earlier in the evening.

Fran had a character played by Rosie O'Donnell as her cab driver, and Annie O'Donnell had a character played by Iqbal Theba for hers. (Same cab, different shifts.)

You may have noticed while glancing over that list that 'The George Carlin Show' gave his recurring role of a fellow cabbie a name - Inzamamulhaq Siddiqui. And yet when he appeared on 'Caroline In The City' as a cabbie, his name was Koothrappally. This is an easy one to splain away.


Koothrappally was his nickname! Yeah, that's the ticket!

Iqbal Theba also appeared as a driver in another sitcom:

"Fired Up"
- Fire and Nice (1998) TV Episode .... Driver

I'm thinking that as a sideline to make more money, Inzamuh-# er, Insamulq-# um.... Dr. Sundram's lookalike cousin also took on side jobs as a limo driver. That's why he was Gwen's driver for a big "spontaneous" date.

In the same year we saw him first appear as a cabbie, we also saw him delivering pizza to four girls living together in Brooklyn:

"Living Single"
- U.N.I.T.Y. (1994) TV Episode .... Pizza Man

Again, it's a simple splainin. He was making a little extra on the side (and probably under the table) by delivering pizzas.

It's not going to happen anytime soon, but the combination of both characters, Dr. Sundram and his identical cousin Inzamamulhaq "Koothrappally" Siddiqui, will make for an excellent addition to the TV Crossover Hall of Fame for June, the perfect month for twins!

Toby OB

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