Saturday, April 6, 2013

From Buddoor to Baddoor...

Delhi is under fear of kidnapping of (beautiful or rich) girls. This is roughly 1981, I'm assuming as the film was released that year. A situation not very different from now, if not worse. This sets the backdrop of Sai Paranjpye's Chashme Buddoor as Omi (Rakesh Bedi) reads a similar news to Siddharth (Farooque Sheikh), and we are made more familiar with the capital city as Jomo (Ravi Baswani) wears jacket imprinted SRCC while leaving home to stalk a girl. 

These young bachelors in the story are the products of the pop-culture: Omi is an art lover, does shairs; Jomo appears to be a hardcore movie buff; but both are college-dropouts and roams freely on roads as female-hunters. Be it a stylish jeans wearing girl or a saree clad child caretaker, they refer them as shikaar. Before you raise your opinion here about "objectifying women", remember, this film is coming from a lady director. And how smartly she takes up this role even in the opening credits!

Siddharth is a sincere Economics student whose wall in the room is the "Mahatma Gandhi" one whereas others have pics of actresses and naked models; he reads business magazines though other magazines lying in their room
, if not cut to be pinned up on walls, would be issues of Playboy. 

He falls for the same girl whom his roommates have tried their failed lucks upon after having glanced her just once while passing by their balcony view. In the same scene, the other passerby on the road walks with two dogs in the opposite direction the girl is walking. It sums up to your interest when you later realize that the door of the bachelor's room boards "Beware of dogs". And at the same door is a "devil" mask exactly same as the one hanging outside their balcony! This explains the title of the film: Chashme Buddoor, which means to be off the devil's eye. So, these guys are not only dogs but also devils.

Title as appears in the opening credits of the film
The room and its interiors tell enough that how impeccably the detailing is constructed throughout the film.

The girl is simplistically beautiful Deepti Naval as lip-biting Neha or fondly remembered by all of us as "Miss Chamko". The first time when I had watched this movie on television, I was too young to grasp the layered story but only the Chamko detergent scene had left a lasting impression on my mind. And it was just a delight to watch this evergreen scene all over again, even brighter in the digitally restored re-release.

David Dhawan still finds Chamko as a tool to bubble up the effervescent love. But for seemingly older characters. Lillette Dubey as Josephine, the landlady of the bachelors (played by Ali Zafar, Divyendu and Siddharth) is the new agent of this detergent brand. But thankfully, she's not referred as "Miss Chamko" by her lover Joseph (Rishi Kapoor in a role that of Saeed Jaffery's from the original).

Dhawan's new release Chashme Baddoor (with one vowel replaced by another in the title) as a remake of the classic draws it up to this age to some extent but at the same time confines it to the current period. He has clearly missed that the 1981 film is as timeless as its characters. 

Devoid of aforesaid detailing, layers and subtlety as in the original, this film is as loud as its soundtrack by Sajid-Wajid. And you miss how even in melancholic scene in the ...Buddoor, when Neha is resting on her grandmother's lap, only her eyes assured volumes of depth with zero background music!

Paranjpye's characters make fun of the choreographed dance sequences and rhyming lyrics they sing along in films. They end up being a subject of laughter for the public in a garden where they decide to do an impromptu. Here, in the "new-age" remake, in a scene when Siddharth's Jay fakes up to retell how he impressed the girl, he imagines a dance on "What is your mobile number?" from the director's earlier Haseena Maan Jaayegi the same way as it happened in the film with common public as spectators. But the irony is that the director has shamelessly fitted in five well choreographed dances throughout the film. 

If Rakesh Bedi's Omi quotes Ghalib, Divyendu Sharma's Omi throws in some old SMS jokes and cheesy puns that you wouldn't care to remember though there are tons of it. In fact, the film hurriedly ends as though one last joke was left to deliver. In contrast, after watching the original one, you'd try to find an occasion in real life to use punches like "Pehle muh to kadva kar lo, yaaron" while offering cigarettes to your friends.

Cigarettes. See how it forms an integral part of the classic, opening its first scene by traveling from one's fingers to other's to other toes; how in each of their scenes together the youngsters share them; how everything sorts out when anyone with some tension ends up at Lallan Miyan's (Saeed Jaffery) stall that largely reads: "Relax! have a Charminar". 

Its significance is merely spoofed in the remake until the first half when Omi never finds match-sticks to lit up the smoke. And yet they show the disturbing "Smoking causes cancer" warning messages on screen.

From thematic Delhi to a prosthetic Goa, from metaphorical kaali ghodi to just a scooty, from an intelligent waiter to a foolish one, from Siddharth who lives in isolation and angst after being hurt by a lie - to the Sid who depends on self-consolidation, from Buddoor to Baddoor, Dhawan has reduced everything to mere caricature. The only thing that's retained intact from the original is the "devil" mask hanging on their door. But with little significance.

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