By Mayank Shekhar
Director: David Dhawan
Actors: Ali Zafar, Siddharth, Divyendu Sharma
If news reports that quote unnamed sources are to be believed, director Sai Paranjpye (Katha, Sparsh) who made the original Chashme Buddoor has been mighty pissed for months with the production of this picture, not so much for the fact that it’s a remake of her 1981 film (which should ideally flatter her), but because David Dhawan is its director.
This is incidentally Dhawan’s 41st movie as director, if you count the last one (Rascals), which really wasn’t a film, and the one before (Do Knot Disturb) that wasn’t worth a review. Still, Dhawan is a gold medallist in editing from Pune’s Film And Television Institute of India (FTII), and he does have to his credit some super funny movies like Aankhein, Shola Aur Shabnam and Haseena Maan Jayegi.
Ms Paranjpye says (or sources close to the source say on her behalf) that someone like Dhawan who has made slapstick rubbish like Hero No 1, Coolie No 1 etc. has no business fiddling with her labour of love. When I read this news report, I felt she was being unjust and snobbish.
When I watched this film, I wondered why she hadn’t filed a defamation suit or pressed even stronger charges against the filmmakers already. Proverbially, if a work of art is indeed someone’s own baby, what you see before your eyes then is relentless mauling and battering of a gentle, playful child, no less, and that lasts for over 130 minutes non-stop.
That these many people – including some fairly talented actors in this film – willingly participated in this shameful act, possibly for the money, tells me either the Indian entertainment economy is generally in bad shape or that no one really bothered to read the screenplay, since they knew what the film was going to be about anyway. This is an official remake after all.
There are three best guy friends, of whom one is a good boy (Ali Zafar, for Farooq Sheikh), and the other two are good-for-nothing lecherous flunkies (Siddharth, Divyendu Sharma for Ravi Baswani, Rakesh Bedi) who hit on the same girl (Taapsee Pannu in Deepti Naval’s role). The loser guys are immediately shown the door, but they pretend that they had actually impressed the beautiful woman with their third-rate antics. Eventually the good boy gets the good girl, and the two flunkies who had been snubbed before, can’t stand this fact.
This simple story is set in that idyllic phase of everyone’s life when college ends and the intense pressures of the real world are yet to kick in. There is immediate connect with the characters. How terribly wrong can you go with Chashme Buddoor? Well here’s how.
You can place the film in Goa and pack it with friends who are low IQ aliens with no sense of their past while they had no future to speak of anyway. You could still ask them to chill out; instead they’re commanded to ‘chillao’, often all at once. The girl’s father (Anupam Kher) who’s in the Army wants a military man for her husband. Her uncle who’s her dad’s twin would like her to wed a “civilian”. Since the main leads are totally bereft of any personality for you to engage with their story, a couple called Joseph and Josephine (Rishi Kapoor, Lillette Dubey) are imported into the movie for an old people’s romance. The affront to senses starts with the music: “What is mobile number?”, “Tu tu tu tu tu tara….” It finally ends with all the actors in fancy dress clothes in a jail where the police identifies the one dressed as Maulvi as a terrorist.
Is this the latest version’s contribution to a 32-year-old classic? No. There’s plenty of that lazy form of humour: puns, word-play and general double-meaning dialogue, which go along the lines of “Ki gal hai, girl hai?”, “Chahe mar ham jayein, marham lagake hi jayenge,” “Shabba khair, Anupam Kher, Kailash Kher, I don’t care.” It’s the sort of stunted, mind-numbing comedy that compels you to judge the person laughing in the seat next to yours. I stop myself and go back to stare at the phone instead. Rhymes and puns carry on: “Kamre mein, matlab camera mein qaid ho jao,” “If you can’t change the girl, change the girl,” “Love sees no age, only courage, bondage, cleavage, marriage…” The writer runs out of dialogues at some point and lifts a Mae West line from a book of quotations on his desk, “When I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.” Yes, you can be better.
Bringing up alma mater might be unfair in this context, but talking about his time at the FTII, Dhawan says in a pre-release interview to The Times of India, “I saw Ritwik Ghatak’s Bengali film Meghe Dhaka Tara and it struck me that in filmmaking, you can make something out of nothing.” About four decades later, his film remains an equally important lesson on how a filmmaker can make nothing out of something (so good). Sigh. You do deserve an apology Ms Paranjpye.