Saturday, April 06, 2013

Chashme Baddoor  

Evil Eye

Talk of irony—at the suburban cinema showing David Dhawan’s Chashme Baddoor, a public service film is screened in which a policewoman tells girls to report any instances of verbal of sexual harassment. And then you see a film in which two young men see a woman and yell “shikaar.” 

The two get into her house (doors are never shut in films)—one of them riffles through her lingerie drawer,  the other finds her working out, and clicks a photo of her bare back. So, is that a case for that earnest lady cop in the ad? Harassment legitimised in the name of comedy in a film?

You have to clear the 1981 film by Sai Paranjpye out of your mind when you see this version, because the two have nothing in common besides bare bones of the plot. Thinking of the old film would just cause anguish—that one had wit—not just cheap get-the-laughs dialogue; the characters were likeable, even when they were being horrid, and Lallan Miyan (played by Saeed Jaffery with such aplomb) was unforgettable. 

The three male leads of this film are just plain creepy—even the guy who is supposed to be the good one; the other two you wouldn’t want to be with in the same room. But this is a David Dhawan film, if there was no crudity in it, his fans would probably feel short changed.

Sid (Ali Zafar), Omi (Divyendu Sharma) and Jai (Siddharth) are housemates in Goa. One is a student, the second a lousy poet and the third an aspiring actor—the kind who when asked to leer at a woman during a screen test, practically rapes her.  This is not funny, but it is David Dhawan.  The cheap lines get raucous laughter from young men in the audience, and dutiful giggles from accompanying female friends.

They run up a bill at Joseph Furtado’s (Rishi Kapoor) cafe and never pay rent to the landlady Miss Josephine (Lillete Dubey).  There is no mention of parents or family, and they seem to exist in a vacuum, drifting aimlessly from day to day.

When ‘runaway bride’ Neha (Taapsee Pannu) moves into the neighbourhood, Omi and Jai make a play for her and get nowhere.  But they tell Sid and each other of a conquest, painting her as a “fast” girl. When Sid meets her and falls in love, they try to break up the romance.  Neha’s family is another nuthouse—her father (Anupam Kher) wants her to marry an army man, her uncle (also Kher) wants her to marry a civilian and her grandmother (Bharati Achrekar), slaps first, talks later.

This does not make for good, or even passable, cinema, but for the moviegoer today, who just wants ‘timepass’ this Chashme Baddoor is more than adequate—all actors are loud, the colour palette garish, and the scenes zip along with such high energy, the film could be on uppers.  But is there one memorable moment in it?  No.  In fact it takes the Chamko detergent selling-scene from the original and ruins it.  


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