Film: “Chashme Buddoor”; Cast: Farooque Sheikh, Deepti Naval, Ravi Baswani and Rakesh Bedi; Director: Sai Paranjpye; Rating: ****
The idea of releasing the original “Chashme Buddoor” alongside its remake is original!
Audiences, who perhaps were not even born when Farooque Sheikh and Deepti Naval captivated a whole generation of moviegoers with their unaffected camaraderie, get a chance to see why the movies in the 1970s and 1980s by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee and Sai Paranjpye were considered heartwarming windows into the soul of the middle-class.
“Chashme Buddoor” harks back to that era of innocence when college students chased girls all across town hoping to get them to agree to a coffee or a movie. Sex, if at all, was never discussed. The gently clever plot of Paranjpye’s film could be divided into three movements.
In the first movement, Rakesh Bedi and Ravi Baswani playing despicably deceptive pals to the relatively sober Farooque Sheikh, cook up an elaborate fantasy romance with the girl-next-door Deepti Naval.
In the second movement, the devilish duo tries to mess up Sheikh’s romance with Deepti, and in the third and final movement, Bedi and Baswani desperately try to reconcile the lovers.
The narrative is strewn with a warm bonhomie that suggests a sense of equilibrium in the universe even when human intentions are far from legitimate or sensible. What works wonderfully for Sai Paranjpye’s game-plan are the credible actors, each embracing his or her character with the conviction of permanent ownership.
Farooque and Deepti are as convincing as a couple as any two strangers who decide to forge a relationship probably because they haven’t met too many potential soul-mates to choose from. Baswani and Bedi’s roguishness bolsters the plot’s action forward into a logical finale.
Incredibly, the Farooque-Baswani-Bedi trio smokes all through the film. There is hardly a frame where one or all three are not seen puffing away at the cancer stick. Perhaps, this is a sign of those relatively innocent times when youngsters smoked because they thought they looked cool doing so.
While most of the episodes still hold up with edifying momentum, some of what seemed cleverly innovative 30 years ago, now seem only to be self-indulgent. There’s an elaborate song in a park where Farooque and Deepti wonder how couples in films manage to sing loudly in public places. Then they proceed to do the same to the accompaniment of sniggers from onlookers.
Offbeat or middle-of-the-road filmmakers always demonstrated a discomfort with conventions of mainstream cinema. Were they just genuinely disdainful of the potboiler or cloaking in snobbery their inability to cope with conventional ingredients? In “Chashme Buddoor”, Paranjpye ably straddles the two worlds of a superior intellectual projection of cinematic conventions and mass entertainment.
See the film for its cute and still-fresh take on love and courtship. And yes, there is a cameo by the Big B and Rekha, where he courts the girl by pretending to have found her handkerchief.
This was the 1980s. No one could escape the Bachchan trap. Not even Sai Paranjpye, who made the art of ‘ladki pataana’ look decent. Even when the protagonists used cheesy pick-up lines, they were never offensive.
Those were innocent times. A waiter is shown to become privy to Farooque’s courtship with Deepti. It’s the waiter who announces interval in the film. Characters in this film are allowed to be clever even at the cost of crossing the camera range.
It’s a world of cerebral satire where lovers avoid being filmy, but don’t mind if their togetherness suggests an affinity with screen couples who woo one another with songs and poetry.
“Chashme Baddoor” is a world free of pain. Though the characters inhabit the middle-income group, they are untouched by suffering. No one dies in “Chashme Buddoor”. Not even while laughing. There are no ‘LOL’ moment in Paranjpye’s scheme of humour. We smile because the sound of loud laughter doesn’t suit this film’s purposes.
Easy does it.