Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chashme Buddoor (1981)

On friendship day, recalling an on-screen friendship that is closest to how friends are in real life....

Three students renting a flat in a big city- all of them single, lazy, carefree, and most of the times out of cash. Sounds familiar? It is the story that plays out in our cities, especially Delhi and Mumbai, at more places than one. Sai Paranjape’s ‘Chashme Buddoor’ is a delightful take on bachelorhood and friendship. The three guys Siddharth, Omi, and Jai are played by Farooq Sheikh, Rakesh Bedi, and Ravi Baswani repectively. While Omi and Jai are quite exuberant and overtly desperate to have girlfriends, Siddharth is a shy person more interested in books than girls (He is made to wear thick spectacles to drive this point home I guess).

A delightful intrusion in their daily routine comes in the form of a charming young girl (Deepti Naval) that they spot from the window of their flat. Omi and Jai decide to take turns at attempting to woo her. The urgency and the excitement that this mere sighting of a pretty girl in the neighborhood brings to these two is quite relatable to what actually happens even in this time and age. They offer Siddharth an attempt at wooing her, but he declines. Then one by one Omi and Jai visit the girl’s home in the neighborhood. While Jai gets thrown out by the girl’s hefty brother, Omi walks out of her place after being mistaken for a plumber. Subsequently both of them, instead of admitting their failures in front of Siddharth, hatch up false stories of how they managed to woo the girl successfully and how she went on a date with both of them. Then on the pretext of sacrificing the girl for each other, they end the matter and vow to never think about the girl again.

Unknown to both of them, the same girl visits their home on a sales assignment for the ‘Chamko’ brand of detergent powder. Siddharth, being the only one at home, interacts with her and watches the whole sales demonstration, completely dazed by her charm and affability. In a not entirely chance encounter, they meet again. Slowly Siddharth and Neha, or Miss Chamko as he calls her, fall for each other and start meeting quite frequently. Siddharth also manages to get a job and later on, to his utmost surprise, he discovers that his boss is none other than Neha’s father. Things couldn’t be more perfect of Siddharth, but then Omi and Jai get to know about his affair with Neha. Slightly jealous of the fact that their friend had managed to woo a girl they couldn’t- they false a false picture about Neha in the mind of Siddharth.

The story is really uncomplicated and light hearted. The director creates an engaging set of characters and gives complete focus to their interplay and interactions instead of introducing unnecessary twists and turns and sub-plots. The actors do a good job and pitch in with truly natural performances. All of them are highly commendable, even the interesting role played by Saeed Jaffery of that of a neighborhood ‘panwallah’ who continuously keeps reminding them of their rising debt on cigarettes, but despite that takes keen interest in their affairs and wishes the best for them.

The one thing I didn’t like about this movie was its climax, which was probably designed as a tongue in cheek take on the way most Bollywood movies were at that time. Another instance the director tried using this tool was when Siddharth and Neha ridicule how film couples singing songs in gardens etc. when a plethora of people can watch them, but subsequently break into a song themselves. This sequence however is quite cute and brings a smile to your face. As a parting note- that can be said for the whole movie too…

PS- As per reports David Dhawan is remaking this film pretty soon- In my opinion he will murder the film by introducing unnecessary gags and songs- and will kill the soul of the film- i.e. its simplicity.

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