April 5, 2013
Ali Zafar, Siddharth, Divyendu Sharma, Taapsee Pannu, Anupam Kher, Bharati Achrekar, Rishi Kapoor, Lillette Dubey
There are two ways you can watch this film. You could either hark back to Sai Paranjpye’s Chashme Buddoor starring Farooque Shaikh and Deepti Naval, and feel traumatised that this remake is not a patch on the comparatively mellow drama of the original. Or you could forget that this is a remake, and take it for what it is: a flawed yet fun film and a vast improvement on the shrill, crude comedies we’re more used to getting from contemporary Bollywood.
Chashme Baddoor 2013 pretty much sticks to the plot of the original film. Jai and Omi are skirt-chasers who share a flat with their level-headed friend Sid. While pursuing a pretty girl called Seema, the two no-gooders are humiliated by her family. So when Sid and Seema fall in love, Jai and Omi plot to keep them apart. Hence the song: Har ek friend kamina hota hai.
Director David Dhawan won half his battle with this film when his casting director got Pakistani actor Ali Zafar, south Indian star Siddharth and the one-Bollywood-film-old Divyendu Sharma to play Sid, Jai and Omi respectively. The three have such a likeable screen presence that it becomes easier to forgive the film its many flaws. Besides, Zafar’s Hindi diction is so sexy that it makes you want to curse the asses who partitioned India in 1947. It helps that he’s cute as a button, as are his co-stars in a very relaxed, non-in-your-face, not-flashing-bulging-biceps-or-tiny-waistlines-at-us kind of way. Divyendu carries forward the smooth dialogue delivery that made him so noticeable in Pyaar ka Punchnama despite the misogyny that ruled that film. And Telugu-Tamil actress Taapsee Pannu is a pleasant presence as Seema who never once raises the decibel level of the film despite instances where a lesser actress might have done so.
Bringing up the rear are veteran Anupam Kher clearly having a lark in a double role as Seema’s Armyman dad and Army-hating uncle, with the ever-dependable Bharti Achrekar as their mother who’s prone to slapping annoying people. Rishi Kapoor plays local café owner Joseph, and Lillette Dubey is the boys’ landlady Miss Josephine. The two do their best despite the lackadaisical writing and direction of scenes in which they interact.
Which brings us to my big issue with Chashme Baddoor... Why do so many Bollywood comedy writers these days fill their pages with rhyming dialogues, puns and self-referential jokes? And by that I’m not referring to Omi’s shayari (which is enjoyably kitschy and tacky for the most part), but the manner in which Jai and Omi constantly rhyme their sentences even when Omi is not spouting poetry. They are not alone. Josephine, when told that Joseph is an alcoholic, says: Life mein hamara support mila toh woh alcohol ko deport kar dega. Noooooo!!!!! Talk about genre clichés … whether it’s Salman Khan in Ready or for that matter all the characters in most Dhawan, Anees Bazmee and Indra Kumar films these days, THEY’RE ALL RHYMING WORDS! Why?! Fortunately, these tedious patches are balanced out by many genuinely funny scenes, which makes Chashme Baddoor work overall for a tolerant person like me.
What’s not tolerable though are the ageist bits that can’t be excused simply because we’ve seen far worse from Bollywood. It’s not okay for a young man to refer to an old lady as a “khandahar”. It’s not okay either that Jai tells Seema’s grandmom: Marne ki umar chalee gayee lekin aap abhi bhi Queenfisher ki model lagti ho. There are also just too many songs unthinkingly inserted into the plot as though a pre-determined template demanded a song after every x minutes. Andha ghoda race mein dauda is decidedly dull, but compensation comes in the form of the light-hearted lyrics and melody of Dhichkyaoon dhum dhum, the peppy Har ek friend kamina hota hai and the retro mood of Uski aankhon mein toh saji hai madhusala.
The editor seems to have gone missing in certain scenes where awkward silences of a few seconds needed to be shaved off but weren’t, almost as though it wasn’t worth the effort. Arrey! Those not familiar with scenic Goa (where this film is set) may not be irked by this, but it annoyed me that characters seemingly living in Panaji were shown attending church services in Old Goa… a bit like showing residents of Mumbai’s Andheri buying daily groceries in Worli or CP residents in Delhi driving to Ghaziabad for a manicure. Were churches in Panaji unavailable for shooting? This spot of laziness and the lack of locational specificity in the film are exacerbated by memories of the charming referencing of Delhi in the 1981 Chashme Buddoor.
I guess since Dhawan wants us to ignore logic while watching his films, there’s no point asking why the boys in this Chashme Baddoor intermittently dish out imitations of legendary actors in passing or the reasoning behind the switch to a retro look in places. What the heck, since I enjoyed those parts (particularly Siddharth’s take on Amrish Puri’s voice) I won’t complain too much. So here’s the final word: Chashme Baddoor is not of an unequivocally hilarious standard like David Dhawan’s Govinda-starrer Hero No. 1 or the madcap Biwi No. 1 with Salman and Karisma; yet the director is in way better form here than in his more recent Govinda-starrer Do Knot Disturb which was so flat that it was tragic. True, Dhawan’s Chashme Baddoor is a far cry from Sai Paranjpye’s film, but when viewed in the context of contemporary Bollywood comedy, it must be said that it’s also a far cry from the offensiveness of Sajid Khan’s Housefull 2, the crassness of Sachin Yardi’s Kyaa Superkool Hain Hum, the loudness of Dhawan’s own Rascals and the unfunny-ness of Khan’s Himmatwala. Chashme Baddoor is a spot of mindless fun and for all its flaws, I had a good time watching it.
Rating (out of five): **3/4
CBFC Rating (India):
Photograph courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chashme_Buddoor_(2012_film)