1/30/12

DESERVES BETTER TRIBUTES, OR NONE.


It has been a while since we were last seen. And as all good things come to end all good things must also get a last chance. So believing that if we take another long break we don’t deserve to continue writing and waste time, we are here.
 
In the new phase, we intend to take some of the most pressing issues cinema faces today (not Agneepath) head on and the most appalling piece of news we have stumbled upon since our unceremonious departure (“We were on a BREAK!”) is the fact that none other than David Dhawan is remaking the cult classic of the early 80s Chashme Buddoor into a contemporary Bollywood comedy for which he is relying upon the acting "prowess" of the pitiful Ali Zafar and the average Siddharth. Why this piece of information agonizes us does not entirely emerge from the unnervingly huge and shoddy filmography attributed to Dhawan, but also because Chashme Buddoor is one of those rare Indian classics that are independent of the era they are being watched in. And this particular film, directed by Sai Paranjpye, has the beauty of being thoroughly and accurately descriptive of a particular era in the ever-dynamic Indian society, yet cements itself as a timeless classic.

Chashme Buddoor tells the story of three roommates Omi, Jai and Siddharth. While Omi (Rakesh Bedi) and Jai (late Ravi Baswani) are futile yet relentless womanizers, Siddharth (Farooq Sheikh) is the more reserved kinds who is a nerd of that degree where he finds equal thrill in a book of Economics as a normal man finds in a James Hadley Chase novel. When the new girl in the neighborhood (Deepti Naval) arrives, Omi and Jai, the womanizing slackers that they are, jump onto the opportunity to woo her while Siddharth unaware and uninterested about these developments provides superficial moral support to both of their attempts, which of course prove to be futile. But both Jai and Omi despite their incapability to have the smallest of conversations with the girl Neha, come up with an entirely contradictory, false and dreamy tale of their romances and exploits with her and then simultaneously conclude that they should stop their pursuit for a female of such  ill character. To add to the twist further, the nerd is the first one to find a girl for him and it happens to be the same Neha (an amazing first rendezvous between the pair and of course the unforgettable and hilarious reference to Miss Chamko).

Bertrand Russel, Gandhi, Vivekananda adorn Siddharth’s walls, juxtaposed by the almost nude bikini models that cover up most of Jai and Omi’s walls and imaginations. The movie beautifully narrates its tale, unfolding the story of its characters and in backdrop throws light on the menace of abduction of women in the Delhi of the late 70s and early 80s, which then goes on to play a major role in the climax of the film.

It is simply marvelous how effortlessly Paranjpye drives the film with powerful dialogs, strong unfolding of the story line, and stylized representation of the pleasures of the youth. The simple art direction, the things scattered here and there in every frame of the film add to the nostalgia and help magnify its cult status. The constant lighting of cigarettes (on credit), ranging from Dunhill in good times to the plain Indian Beedi in bad, the humorous encounters of the trio with the cigarette seller; the much bright and vibrant character of Lallan Miya (Saeed Jaffery), his Hyderabadi accent and rants on how his business is making losses because of the rascal duo (Jai and Omi) who never ever clear their dues. Chashme Buddoor succeds in making an impression by this simplicity and precision; which is not just admirable but is compelling to a viewer who is captivated by the narration, the performances and also by the quality and the wit of the dialogues and even the songs.

While Pyaar Lagavat stands out as the best song of the film, every other track is apt and contributes to the storyline instead of intruding it (the latter, a more common observation in Hindi cinema). All credit to the legend of a music director, Rajkamal. Other loved tracks include Kaali Ghodi Dwaar Khadi and Kaha Se Aaye Badra.

Chashme Buddoor is important as it belongs to the few rare movies in Hindi Cinema of that time which planted the seeds of the Indian New Wave cinema (which no one can be sure when it came or is coming), where the technical brilliance of the West would meet simple yet moving tales of India and result in something like a Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron,Dil Dosti Etc, Taare Zameen Par, Dev D, Dhobi Ghaat, etc.

So much we admire all these small and vital elements of Chashme Buddoor that the reader we hope is not amazed anymore on our apprehension that Dhawan is remaking the classic. More so because, Dennis Dugan, a Hollywood director, in 2001, adapted Chashme Buddoor into the rather insipid American comedy Saving Silverman. Well of course, making a bad remake in no way affects the greatness of the original work, but what unnerves us is the fact that a work of the stature ofChashme Buddoor deserves a much better tribute; we hope our article is close to something of that nature.

PS. What is it now with the story of Zanjeer remake by Apoorva Lakhia(him?!) ? Deserves better tributes or none at all.