Favorite Hindi Comedies.
If you think about it, Hindi films (the ‘commercial’ kind) are the ultimate get your money’s worth deal. You have the major cinematic genres – drama, comedy, action, musical – all rolled into one three hour plus product ! (Just for the record, this was not meant to be a compliment.)
However, from time to time, Hindi cinema does foray into genre-specific films – in particular, the comedy. Since that happens to be my favorite genre, and since my old post on Hindi film dialogues is still the daily best-seller, so why not a shameless attempt at another such traffic-hogging post: the Best of Hindi Comedies ! (The idea for this post came from an exchange on another post, many months ago – but I have recently been told to finish it).
Unfortunately, Hindi (or Indian) cinema as a whole has never really ventured into irreverent humor on the lines of Monty Python, relying more on either subtle romantic comedies or slapstick, but still there are quite a few great ones out there – enough to select ten of them. I have realized that lists like these are highly subjective – hence its simply my own favorite top 10. But if there are films that you think should be in the list, please do mention in the comments.
Each film in the really deserve a detailed analysis, but being a lazy-ass I am, I have written briefly only briefly (you can google for the reviews, but I suspect most of my readers will have seen everything on this list). So without further ado, here goes:
10. Andaaz Apna Apna: A rather goofy story of two no-gooders trying to outsmart each other in their attempt to marry the ‘London returned’ heir of a rich diamond merchant. Perhaps the only film in which Salman Khan’s buffoonery is tolerable (as it fits right in).Amir Khan and Paresh Rawal excels as expected but neither of the heroines are tolerable.
9. Chhoti si Baat: The story of an introverted and meek middle-class man (Amol Palekar) trying to win the attention and love of a girl (Vidya Sinha) he meets everyday during their commute. His attempts are thrawted by the smooth-talking slicker (Asrani). Enter Col. Julius Nagendranath Wilfred Singh (Ashok Kumar) as a problem-solver with his ‘love and self-confidence for dummies’ education, and the no longer naive Palekar swoops off the girl.
I love the beginning of this film, where the narrator (Gulzar I think) describes the romance in the life of each member of the Jackson-Tolaram Company where Palekar works. The songs, Na Jaane Kyun and Yeh Din, Kya Aaye are beautiful.
8. Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi: A classic comedy from the ‘Ganguly Brothers’. Some of the most memorable comic songs – Jaate the Japan, Babu Samjho Ishaare, Paanch Rupaiya Bara Aana etc. Kishore Kumar at his finest.
7. Chupke Chupke: I actually prefer the original Bengali movie (Chaddabeshi) on which this is based. But Amitabh’s ‘Aap log to kuchh samajh-tei nahin hai !!‘ as he is desperate trying to keep up appearances as a married man while desiring to woo Jaya Bhaduri is priceless.
6. Chasme Buddoor: The often overlooked gem from Sai Paranjape. Once again shy, simpleton eventually wins the heart of the girl. The ending was a bit lame though. Love the use of old Hindi songs montage.
5. Naram Garam: The Amol Plaekar-Utpal Dutt-Hrishikesh Mukherjee trio teams up for another laugh riot (Golmaal was made earlier). My best memory of this film is a bright-red pajama clad Shatrugan Sinha’s lover-lorn expressions as he clutches on to a transistor radio and wistfully says ‘Ab yehi achha lagta hai – ke kuch achha nahin lage…‘ and of course, ‘Chana-gur – chana gur to mujhe bahut achha lagta hai’. Look out for a subtle dig at the Indira Gandhi government’s decision to impose emergency.
4. Padosan: A comedy about love for the ‘girl-next-door’, Sairan Banu, who is being courted by an improbable duo – a rustic simpleton, Sunil Dutt and vying with him, a rather caricatured Tamilian Brahmin music and dance teacher, played by Mehmood. Stealing the show, however, is Kishore Kumar with his paan-chewing appearance as ‘Guru’ and his posse of various funny side characters, including Keshto Mukherjee (whose rendition of ‘Kaash, Kaash’ as ‘Gaas, gaas’ is one of the comedic highlights). Further hilarity comes from Kishore Kumar’s wildly improvised songs, Ek Chatur Naar and ‘Meri Pyari Bindu‘.
3. Rang Birangi: Yet another one featuring Palekar and Dutt, directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Plenty of Hindi film in-jokes. Deven Varma plans to inject some life into the happy and settled, but unexciting life of Amol Palekar and Parveen Babi. He weaves a plot based on another Hindi film, Pati Patni Aur Woh, whereupon Palekar woos his pretty secretary (Deepti Naval) and thereby reviving the love in his own marriage.
Also, some of the wittiest names in Hindi film: Dhudandar Bhatawdekar and Amritanshu Shekhar Satyawadi. The last few scenes in the police stations are brilliant examples of comic timing.
2. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron: Without doubt, the most brilliant political satire to be ever made in Indian films. Favorite line from the film: ‘Thoda Khaao – Thoda Phenko‘. I remember literally rolling on the floor while the climactic ‘Mahabharat’ sequence was going on.
1. Gol Maal: The zany comedy about multiple identities of made-up twins and of course, moustaches. As I have written about this film earlier: ‘This uproaringly hilarious, rolling-on-floor-laugh-out-loud comedy about one man juggling duplicate identities, a job under a stern, eccentric boss and a love-affair with the demanding daughter of the said boss, never gets stale. Amol Palekar and Utpal Dutt achieved perfect comedic timing with this. One of the favortie scenes: Utpal Dutt admonishing his daughter – ‘Tum use shaadi nahin karoge – jise tum pyar karti ho ! Tum use shaadi karoge jise main pyar karta hoon" ‘
It was a toss-up between Golmaal and Jane Bhi Do Yaaron – really hard to pick either as number one. Golmaal wins out because of my fond remembrances of watching the film for the first time on a lazy weekday afternoon – I believe DD was showing it during their election coverage. Nostalgia’s such a wonderful feeling. Others that barely missed the cut: Katha – Sai Paranjape’s modern parable of the tortoise-hare story (an excellent analysis here by Jai Arjun); Angoor – Gulzar’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, a comedy about two sets of identical twins and of course each being mistaken for the other twin; Shaukeen – a simple comedy about three old-aged friends vacationing in Goa and trying to recapture their youth by romancing a a buxom crooner, Rati Agnihotri; and Half-Ticket – love it mostly for the song, Cheel Cheel – Kishore belting the nonsensical number while dressed as a school-boy.
I admit that there is an conspicuous lack of recent (post-80s) made Hindi movies – and that is because I do not consider any comedies made in this time to be really up there in quality with the ones I have listed. MunnaBhai, Hera-Phiri etc are perhaps funny – but simply cannot match up with the films in made during the earlier golden years.