Chashme Buddoor (1981)

This movie made me laugh so hard that I literally cried, and had to pause it so as not to miss anything. Apart from the two Munnabhai films, it’s the funniest (intentionally) Hindi movie I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen plenty). Comedy is the hardest genre to translate across cultures, but this one does it in spades. I would say in fact that it’s got to be one of the funniest films ever made anywhere, period, and is as close to perfect as anything gets.

The tongue-in-cheek celebration of filmi conventions, romance, student life, and friendship is hilarious; and the characters are portrayed so perfectly sweetly and heartwarmingly that you can’t help but love them, even when they do bad things. The cast is superb: Farooq Sheikh and Deepti Naval (whom I enjoyed immensely in Kissise Na Kehna and Katha) get incomparable support from Saeed Jaffrey, Ravi Baswani and Rakesh Bedi. I run short of superlatives!

Three guys—Omi (Rakesh Bedi), Jai (Ravi Baswani), and Siddharth (Farooq Sheikh)—are poverty-stricken graduate students who share a room, cigarettes, and a motorbike that only Siddharth can start.

Omi and Jai share a round-the-clock obsession with girls, too: thinking about them, talking about them, ogling them…but never getting very far with them. Siddharth prefers his studies. Their disparate interests are reflected on the walls of their room—Siddharth’s contains a Van Gogh print and a photo of Gandhi, while the other two have posted magazine pinups of models and actresses in scanty clothing.

They are harassed and scolded by a kind-hearted local shop owner named Lallan Mian (Saeed Jaffrey), to whom they owe money, but he also continues to give them credit and advice when they need it.

I love him and would marry him despite his paan habit. He’s just so…twinkly, or something.

All we are missing now is the girl, and she comes along in the form of Neha (Deepti Naval), who lives next door to the boys. Omi and Jai decide to take turns wooing her. Omi fancies himself a poet, but Neha mistakes him for the plumber’s assistant when he shows up at her door.

After spending the day wandering about killing time and watching others romance, he returns home and spins reality:

into a lovely tale for his roommates’ benefit. He tells them of a day spent reciting couplets (these, even in his fantasy, are really really bad poetry, which makes me fall over laughing).

They are suitably impressed.

Now it’s Jai’s turn; he tries to impress Neha by boasting of his filmi connections.

She sees right through him and introduces him to her brother, who has aspirations of being a movie villain. He demonstrates his fighting skills on poor Jai, to Neha’s great delight.

After a trip to the clinic and a day spent in the movie theater, Jai returns home with his story ready.

This fantasy is priceless (it’s where I had to pause the film for some time in order to recover my equilibrium). Jai romances Neha with a montage of familiar film songs from the 50s right through to Qurbani—contemporary with this movie—and Ravi Baswani is absolutely hilarious. It’s clear too that Deepti Naval is having a great time with this filmi tribute. I never link to YouTube since videos get taken down all the time, but try this link or do a search if you haven’t seen it.

The roommates are duly impressed by his story too.

They try to convince Siddharth to woo her, but he’s heard enough from them—she’s clearly got more energy than he would know what to do with!

One day, though, she shows up at their door to demonstrate a soap product. Siddharth is home alone, and she talks him into letting her in so that she can finish her quota for the day, even though three bachelors live there.

They are attracted to each other and begin a quiet courtship.

Siddharth goes shopping for a more stylish avatar, but what matters to me is this space-age puppet thing in the store. Can someone please explain it to me?

And he finds a job, finally! All that’s left is:

But alas, trouble looms on the horizon. Neha’s father has a groom already in mind for her, and when Omi and Jai find out Siddharth’s plans and realize who Neha is, each is worried that his own disastrous courtship of her may come to light. I think they are also a little worried about losing their income (Siddharth’s monthly money order from home). In any case, they decide to “save” their friend from Neha, and throw another spanner in the works by successfully planting suspicion in Siddharth’s mind about Neha’s true character.

Oh no! Will Siddharth and Neha be separated forever? If you haven’t seen this classic yet, you must. Every nuance, every touch is just perfect, and my stomach still hurts from laughing so often and so hard. Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha make a cute guest appearance goofing on filmi romance too. And it’s so wonderful to see Delhi as it was almost thirty years ago (without the traffic that chokes it now).

I recently read that Sai Paranjape is thinking of making a new film: here is my vote in favor of that!

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52 Comments to “Chashme Buddoor (1981)”

  1. Is it really the Delhi of almost 30 years ago? Thats how I remember it (am clearly getting old) inspite of visiting often in the past few years. Anyhow, this was one of Chashme Buddoor‘s best aspects – Delhi which you rarely see in films. And ofcourse, the guys living in one room and having their own walls reminds me of my own hostel days and the rooms of my guy friends!

    I am so glad to know that Sai Paranjape is making a new film – her movies and TV serials have all been excellent and we could do with more goodies from her!

  2. Hi Memsaab

    I came across ur blog quite accidentally and sure as hell got hooked to it right away….its like a drug, keeping coming back for more….I really, really enjoy reading ur hilarious comments, its the tops…I remember watching chasme buddoor long back as a kid at a friend’s place…Back then DD showed a movie every Sunday evening I think it was..there were no other channels to watch and we eargerly awaited these movies……Have u seen Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro starring Naseerudin Shah and Ravi Baswani…u will love it….I like watching old movies, reading and collecting old movie pictures and articles even more…thats I loved all those vintage pics u have posted…Great going lady…Good Luck with your endeavors….will keeping visting for more…

  3. bollyviewer: I know, old age creeps up on one fast :-) Delhi is so pretty, with its wide streets (and sidewalks you can actually walk on!). I hope she does make one and it isn’t just a rumor!

    Shaila: Thank you very much :-) Glad you enjoy my blog; I have seen Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro and it is absolutely wonderful, and funny too. Would love to see some of your photos etc., maybe you should start a blog *hint hint* :-P

  4. Hi,

    Yeah and my inspiration is you…by the way I used to blog but it wasnt about movies…but after regularly going through yours, something is stirring in me too….will surely share some pics with you…talking about pics…loved yours in the saree…u really are GORGEOUS in a saree…think u should wear it more often….Love, hugs, kisses to u and ur baby Gemma…

  5. Lovely pick, memsaab.

    A friend of mine who used to smoke would often quote a line from the movie (told to the Saeed Jaffrey character): Someday, a “special” girl would ask him to stop smoking for her sake, and he would! :-D

    ~r

  6. Oh, thank you so much for reminding me of this. Such an awesome movie – right up there with Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron and Golmaal (the Amol Palekar-Utpal Dutt starrer). I do wish they’d make movies like that again, the type that make your tummy hurt because you’ve laughed so much…

  7. This used to be such a favourite of mine. I’ll show it to Dhanno now that you’ve reminded me of it. Isn’t the song lovely when she says “Now we should sing a song.”?

  8. U picked the right movie. this is my all time fav. I can watch it a thousand times. the bohemian hostel day life. Bollyviewer rightly mentioned abt that quiet delhi of yesteryears. Well till my graduation in 95 delhi was more or less the same. This movie has superb humor and projects the story in the simplest way. Sai Paranjpe did make very very gud movies. Hope she makes more.

  9. Shaila, thank you again ;-)

    Ramsu: That is such a sweet line, especially when Deepti then pretends not to mind that he smokes when he wants her to ask him to stop.

    madhu: I agree, both those other films also made me laugh!

    Banno: I’ll bet Dhanno will love it too, it’s such a clever film. I love all the musical parts in it.

    महेन: It’s now one of my all-time favorites too!

  10. I need to see this right away! It’s always struck me as strange the way comedy doesn’t translate, espcially since (mostly) everybody loves to laugh. I suppose we all like to see ourselves reflected in our comedy – it’s much nicer to laugh at yourself than at others. :)

  11. This will most definitely make you laugh :-) Very hard!

  12. Hey memsaab, it’s funny that you reviewed this movie today & i was reading an “interview” of Farooq Sheikh just before visiting your site. Here it is; he even talks about Chasme Buddoor. Here it is: http://www.bollywoodhungama.com/features/2008/08/25/4202/index.html

    You know, I never got a chance to see this movie, except for one scene. The one where Deepti is doing the soap demo for Farooq, and shows him how well it cleaned the shirt that Farooq brought her to do the demo on. Farooq then says it was a clean shirt in the first place, for how could he bring a dirty shirt to a girl? Also in the same scene, Farooq covers the pin-up girls’ pictures since Deepti was coming; and then when that cover falls off in front of her.. I remember the awkwardness in both of their faces. Ah! I do have to find this movie & see it!!

    (Oh, btw, won’t you review “Katha”, please? I’ll be waiting for it!) :-)

  13. Ha ha, I read that article this very morning too. You must see the whole film, it should be compulsory viewing for any film fan.

    Katha was very sweet, I will see about writing a review of it :-)

  14. Along with Gandhi, there’s also a picture of Vivekanand and (probably) Einstein on Siddharth’s wall (and maybe Tagore?); and he is named after Siddharth Gautam, hence his intellectual/philosophical bent.
    And if you observe closely (in the scene when the shirt is soaking while Deepti Naval is there), Omi’s wall doesn’t have pictures of scantily-clad models and actresses (that’s all Jomo/Jai’s wall) but some verses (probably romantic) in Urdu, a picture of I’m (guessing) Mirza Ghalib, and a romantic picture of a couple from a bygone era. :)

    Siddharth is also referred by Omi as Arastu – the Arabic name of Aristotle.

    I love this movie – it hasn’t dated with time!! :)

  15. Another trivia – when Jomo ditches Omi at the cigarette shop and rides away and gives a ride to a girl he’d seen earlier, that girl is Sai’s daughter Winnie Paranjpe. She also had a small role in Katha.

  16. Amit, thanks for the clarification and edification :-) That’s why I love blogging! I noticed the Aristotle reference a few times but the rest escaped me :-)

    There are just so many fabulous scenes, I keep remembering bits and pieces and start giggling uncontrollably. It should be prescribed for depression or something.

  17. There are just so many fabulous scenes..

    I agree. Another of my favorite is when Siddharth turns on the radio while waiting for the towel to get cleaned, and the song is “Hum tum ek kamare mein band ho.” The expression on his face is priceless, as Neha squirms uncomfortably. Then Siddharth opens the door of his apartment and smiles sheepishly at Neha, and she smiles back. So cute!!! :)

    I also love Saeed Jaffrey’s character. He always livens up a movie with his inimitable style.

  18. I’ve been offline so long (actually just a few days), but obviously have missed much- i will chime in and say I love the movie- esp Farukh’s bike, that song “kahan se aaye” and of course ms chamko- ms naval should come back to acting- such a small, but perfect body of work.
    On the other hand, poor Farukh seems to have gotten the short end of the stick- he was obviously a v good actor, but perhaps too unconventional for 80s-90s cinema that he was part of….
    Saeed rocks- i dont think he got angry in this one, but when he does, he goes all pink [heeh] and yeah, like u say- when he smailes he twinkles! :D

  19. I’m so glad you enjoyed this movie – it’s one of my all time faves and I take every compliment anyone pays it sort of personally. It’s a bit psycho but… Sai Paranjape’s career is one of the greatest crimes of Bollywood, that someone this talented would only get to make so few movies and have to scrounge around for funding is terrible. My greatest fear is that Vishal Bharadwaj will go the same way. And then Amrita will lie down and cry. :(

    Also, Deepti Naval kicks ass. She was never took herself too seriously but she was such a good actor and did it all with such little fuss and has gone on to do exactly as she wished with her life. She’s amazing!

  20. I will lie down and cry with you Amrita! I’m still crying over the fact that VB isn’t making the Fearless Nadia movie that he had planned :-(

    Shweta, Farooq seems to have kept busy though (see link to interview from Ranya above). And I am always happy when Saeed Jaffrey appears onscreen, in anything.

  21. Oh my gosh, this movie sounds like sooo much fun! My Netflix queue is getting out of control, but I can stand to add one more. ;-)

  22. Ajnabi—add it, and move it directly to the top! :-)

  23. one of the most hilarious movie.

  24. Hey,

    I landed on your blog while searching for Chashme Buddoor, and first of all, let me congratulate you on a great effort and blog.

    Now, for Chashme buddoor, a movie that has plain driven me crazy trying to figure out how and why this movie has almost become an obsession. I love it, and I love discussing and giving gyaan on it.

    As far as I can understand, the following are the reasons for my extra attachment to the movie:

    a) As already pointed out by someone, the Delhi setting is a BIG, BIG part of the movie and really showcases Delhi for what it used to be and still is in some parts (the wide roads, the trees, the spaces and the houses right down to the Delhi Police “With you, For you, always” Constable who flags down the three guys at the end of the pyaar, mohabbat song).

    It is Delhi showcased in a very charming manner and the movie is more Delhi than any other movie I have seen (Khosla ka ghosla comes close, but less in terms of showcasing the city than in terms of the characters). I have a feeling this ‘Delhiness’ is a huge part of the appeal the movie has for guys like me who grew up in Delhi. Katha, for instance, is an equally funny and charming movie but somehow moves me lesser than chashme buddoor, whereas one of my ex-roommates who himself is a maharashtrian from bombay always liked Katha more than chashme buddoor.

    b) The hostel life and the characters of the three “non-heroes”. Having lived like this myself and seen all types of roommates, I find this movie a very true to life representation of the mentality of such an age and circumstance.

    For instance, one of my fav. scenes in the movie is when Omi goes to the terrace to empty an ashtray spies deepti naval and shouts “ladkiiii…..(girl)” with such a wickedly delighted expression on his face and jomo comes running out howling like a dog. Trust me, this is such a close representation of bachelor/student life in North India (specially if you are in one of the more academic streams or in engineering with few girls in your batch) that this scene makes me crack up each and every time. Or the sharing of one bike/cigerrates/ the borrowing from saeed jaffrey/ the nervousness of Farooque shaikh when actually faced with a girl- all of these make it a really true to life depiction of student life at least in my time.

    c) Last but not least, what adds magic to this movie is that on top of the understated humor based on real life situations, it is such a heartwarming movie. I hate to use this word, but the movie is downright cute.

    Finally, of course, it’s very, very funny. I love Sai’s work and was shocked to hear from the commenter above that she did not get to make more movies because she did not receive funding. Makes my blood boil, specially when I see movies being made by people like Karan Johar and Barjatya.

    I’d love to hear from others what they think, and yes, memsaab, a review of Katha is much awaited.

  25. Hi Rahul :-) I think this is one of the rare “perfect” films ever made, and I’m including Hollywood in that. It works for me essentially because it has a great script/screenplay, the casting is perfect and the performances dead-on, and the director has translated her vision onto film beautifully. The pacing, the characters, the myriad small moments that make up the big picture—plus some of the big moments! just add up to a film that is hilariously funny, poignant, and universal; you can relate to the characters and situations no matter who you are, because they are just so human. I honestly can’t think of a single thing I would change. Not a single thing.

    I like Katha very much too, but not like this one. I will do a writeup of it one of these days though! Glad you stopped by and shared your love for this film! :-)

  26. Hi guys, I just finished watching the movie (I’ve seen it a number of times over the years), and came online looking for trivia, and was aptly satisfied. Memsaab, thank you for the post and creative work capturing some great screenshots!

    I’ve been looking up other work by Sai Paranjpye, and am adding Katha and Saaz to my list. It really is a pity that her movie-making has stalled. Was Chaka Chak (2005) ever released? And has anyone seen Bhago Bhoot? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sai_Paranjpye). However, her IMDB entry says her last movie was Bhago Bhoot (2001).

  27. People have been writing nostalgically about Delhi (and India, in general) in comments above. I just wanted to point out that the Delhi in the movie is that of 40 years ago, not just 30! The movie’s release date is 1981. I had just been born, and clearly haven’t seen this India, but I am really drawn to the simple life and happiness in small things. I guess I can be nostalgic about something I haven’t experienced?

  28. I don’t know the answers to your questions about Sai Paranjpye’s later releases, but someone here might! :) And I am confused by your dates above…1981 WAS 30 years ago. Not even: 1981+30=2011 (I used my calculator to be sure, because I’m not so good at math myself). But in any case we can all agree that it’s a time gone forever! :) Maybe simpler, maybe not, but this is just a great film celebrating the simpler things. Glad you enjoyed the post, do come back!

  29. Clearly, I’m losing it. Thanks for the math correction – I appreciate it. Yes, my point was that it celebrates finding happiness and meaning in small things and simple ways. Those times are definitely gone forever, so I’m nostalgic that I’ll never experience it, and in a way, I’m envious of those who did. That said, who knows what people 30 years from now will be saying about movies made now? Similar stuff? Haha.

  30. After seeing your review I saw the first 30 mins of the movie on Youtube.I probably would never have watched this movie if I hadn’t read your blog- there is nothing I hate more than 80s and 90s Bolly.

    It’s very good so far. I like the Bollywood homage that Jai cooks up. And Farooq Sheikh is a good actor—I really liked him in Umrao Jaan. Almost as much as Rekha.

    • Yes, this is an exception to that decade’s excessively bad cinema. Probably it would be on one of my lists of all-time favorite films of any kind, from anywhere. I just laughed so hard through the whole thing.

  31. I found this blog some 10-15 days back and it’s good. Chasme buddoor was hilarious and like JBDY and Golmaal it had a lot of subtle comedy too. Deepti while learning classical music sings “kali ghodi dwaar khadi”/”black horse at doorstep…” after 1-2 min of song we find that Kali ghodi is the motorbike of Farroq sheikh. As for Ravi Baswani, i just love his antics and his expressions, seems to me as good as Peter Sellers.

  32. I like such movies which have no villains, plans and saazish etc.
    Unwanted dhishum dhishum…Hero beating 10 gundas at a single blow.

  33. I wasn’t even born when this movie came out, but still I love it with all my heart, for me this has to be the most complete movie ever. It seeks to find life’s joys in its simplicity rather than lofty ambitions or a preachy social message.

    Excellent Choice, memsaab

  34. Hey Memsaab,

    This is masterpiece. I have put this piece as a tribute to Ravi Baswani at my blog. Thanks a lot for wonderful writeups.

  35. It is sad that Ravi Baswani passed away without getting his due. A good review. I read that this movie is being remade but where are the kind of stars/actors who can replace actors of the calibre of Ravi Baswani/ Deepti/Sheikh/Rakesh Bedi. Easily a classic, it is a pity that Sai Paranjpye did not make many films and I do not know if she has won any awards.

  36. I haven’t watched this one, but I thought the undisputed “funniest” Hindi movie was “Golmaal” :D

    There is also “Angoor” which is a very good adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. !!!SPOILER ALERT!!!

    It even ends with the mother of the protagonist twins asking rhetorically, “Who could have thought such events would come to pass?” and the narrator answering with a finger pointing to a portrait of William Shakespeare with the text “Sirf Ek” (lit. Only One, an appellation usually used for God in Hindi and Urdu).

  37. Nothing makes me feel more nostalgic than Chashme Buddoor.This movie is the only reason I wish I had a time machine so that I could go back and watch this movie on one of the big screens in Delhi and ride back home on the empty streets.Sigh!
    Anyway, I just love this movie and I’m glad there are people out there who appreciate it too :-)
    Cheers to all the like minded lovely people on this blog and respect to Sai Ji!

  38. One tiny little correction in your writeup, memsaab! Not trying to be nit-picky, but nevertheless: the scene where Neha comes to visit the bachelor pad, all three are present: Omi exercising, Jomo ironing and Siddharth shaving. Each of them go one after the other (First Jomo, then Omi and finally Siddharth) to open the door, but when they peep in thru the eyeglass (whaddyu callit?) they see their nemesis and painful and embarrassing secret memories, and they scram, over the parapet onto the sun shade. When Siddharth still notices the doorbell still inging, he gets annoyed and he goes (half shaven- cream over his stubble), opens the door and lets Neha (Ms Chamko) in.
    When he’s asked by her to get a cloth for demonstrating the cleaning power of Chamko, he calls for his room-mates, and from the balcony he notices the two of them standing on the sunshade (Chhaja) and when they see him, they get even more worked up and climb off the sunshade onto the open staircase and abscond, leaving behind a very perplexed Siddharth.

  39. Also watch Golmaal(1979) starring Amol Palekar. It is also one of the best comedy movies ever made in Bollywood!

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