It rarely happens that a directorial debut turns out to be a universally acknowledged classic. Laced with innovative comic sequences and a very familiar identifiable setting, writer-director Sai Paranjpe’s Chashme Buddoor is a veritable treat that remains mint fresh even after almost three decades. Released in 1981, the film won Filmfare Nominations for ‘Best Film’ and ‘Best Director’ and is currently being remade by talented Onir. Bollywood Hungama looks back at reasons why this film has achieved the status of being a cult classic. Reasons, why we always feel like saying…Dil Chahta Hai.
There’s simplicity about the plot and an unhurried pace that endears you from the first frame itself. The story idea about close bonding between perennially broke friends Siddharth (Farooq Sheikh), Omi (Rakesh Bedi) and Jai (Ravi Baswani) living in a small pad in Delhi was handled with a studied ease belying the fact that it was written-directed by a first timer. And, that too a lady! It seems out of the ordinary for she dealt with the habitual skirt chasing rogues (Jai and Omi) who along with bookworm Siddharth survived more on Lallan Miyan’s (Saeed Jaffri) cigarettes than food. Somehow the director seems more of a man than the men in the film themselves.
Some of the scenes are laugh-riot-funny. Let’s try and recreate their flavor:
a)Â Omi after a failed attempt at impressing Neha (Deepti Naval) narrates a poetry-imbued-imaginary tale in a shayrana song mode to his friends. Even though the song (more of a Ghazal) flows smoothly, Rakesh Bedi’s gesticulations as a traditional lover boy with flying kites and chirping birds keeps you in splits.
b)Â After being beaten black-n-purple by Neha’s brother, Jai cooks up a story for the eager consumption of Omi and Siddharth of his big directorial exploits romancing Neha. The parody of Hindi film songs spanning various time zones ranging from ‘Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya’, ‘Aap Jaisa Koi’, ‘Tumne Pukaara Aur Hum Chale Aaye’, ‘Chod Do Aanchal‘ etc. is hilariously executed.
c)Â Miss ‘Chamko’ Neha floors Siddharth with her unpretentious charm as she gives a demo of the washing powder that she marketed. The radio jingles in Bobby melody ‘Hum Tum Ek Kamre Mein Band Hon Aur Chaabi Kho Jaaye‘ and both the simpletons blush. Omi and Jai’s Playboy walls created funny chuckles too.
d)Â Sitting in a park Neha and Siddharth wonder how do, hero-heroines in films find empty parks to sing romantic songs. Also, how do they come up with rhyming poetic words to express their undying love for each other! In an attempt to become ‘filmi’ the duo experiment with creating a sweet song of their own but end up getting laughed-at by an assortment of people in the park.
e)Â Jai recounts a scene to Omi from a film as to how the hero ‘Pataos’ the girl. The scene is actually done by Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha. You just can’t miss the real-life chemistry between the two even in a small scene. Of course Jai makes a fool of himself when he tries doing it himself emphasizing on the fact that the real life doesn’t mirror a film’s shelf life.
f)Â The reference to Hindi films has often been employed in the film. There’s one instance when Siddharth and Neha have just ordered another round of Coffee and Tutti Fruti at their favourite restaurant and request the waiter to take his time in furnishing the order allowing them leisure time with each other. The know-all waiter replies tongue-in-cheek, “Main interval ke baad aata hoon” right at the stroke of actual interval of the film.
Chashme Buddoor was a wonderful collusion of parallel and mainstream cinema showcasing that both can co-exist. It has been a reference point for innumerable films made on male bonding or life-after-college bonhomie. Raj Kamal’s music was the talking point of the film too, especially Yesudas’ Kahan Se Aaye Badra. So, who deserves the credit for this timeless classic?
Farooq Sheikh in an interview with Bollywood Hungama stated, “All the credit goes to Sai’s script. When she completed the script, 80% of the merit of the film was already there, she just had to transfer it to celluloid. Sai also does a close watch on what the actor is doing or not doing. She understood the characters, the time period and the space because she has lived in that area for a long time.” What about the unique brand of sophisticated humour that she used so dexterously in the film? “She has a sense of humour which is very accurate about middle class day to day problems. The moment you see, you feel I know about it, oh I’ve seen it, I identify with that, that’s the special strength that Sai has,” Farooq said.
Somehow, cinema of today needs to lay more emphasis on refined writing while tackling humour. Something which is sorely missing! A film like Chashme Buddoor lasts because of the care-n-attention given to crafting each scene. You don’t get to experience jerky, over smart camera movements. The secret lies in simple straight forward story telling. Here’s hoping Sai Paranjpe takes up the directorial baton once again and entertain audience yet again. As for Chashme Buddoor, well, thanks for making it Ma’m!