Trivia time #20

In the film Namak Halaal (1982) there is a funny scene in the hotel club where Arjun (Amitabh Bachchan) has food spilled on one of his shoes; when he tries to clean it off in the canal that goes through the club, he loses it, and then spends the next 20 minutes or so trying desperately to get it back without being noticed (this naturally involves a drunk man falling in, Amitabh almost falling in, and general mayhem).

Which Hollywood film is this scene copied (almost exactly) from?

Pavitra and Filmi Girl knew that it’s The Party (1968), Blake Edwards’ hilarious comedy which starred Peter Sellers as hapless Indian actor Hrundi Bakshi. One of my favorite not-Hindi movies!

(I do apologize for the poor quality of the Peter Sellers screen cap here, but you get the idea!)

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12 Comments to “Trivia time #20”

  1. This scene was copied from ‘The Party’ starring the great Peter Sellers. This movie is hilarious & a must-watch. Who can forget ‘Birdie Num-Num’ !

    Take care,


  2. That would be “The Party” with Peter Sellers, right?! I love that film.

  3. It is indeed The Party…such a hilarious film. Amitabh even copied Peter Sellers’ mannerisms in this scene!

  4. I didn’t know the answer but I love that scene from Namak Halaal – it’s hysterical.

    In discussions about racist stereotypes of Indians in America, Peter Sellers is often cited as the canonical offensive representation of that stereotype. (Such discussions can be found, for example, on blogs like Ultrabrown and Sepia Mutiny, in connection with last year’s Apu-related promotions for the Simpsons movie.) This must be the Peter Sellers character in question, I’d imagine. It’s somewhat ironic that the scene was borrowed so wonderfully for a Hindi film while the character is today perceived by some to be terribly offensive.

  5. I’ve read a lot of opinion on the subject too; the thing about The Party is that Hrundi is pretty much the only “sane” person in the house (and therefore film). It’s a very satirical look at Hollywood (and by extension, America) circa mid-60’s, and how shallow, superficial and vain it is. Hrundi, in stark contrast, is kind, good-hearted, down-to-earth and empathetic—and he gets the girl (Claudine Longet) in the end! He’s a real person, not a stereotype. If it’s “stereotyping” because he imitates the way many Indians speak English (and by imitating I don’t mean mocking) then I can’t see what’s really offensive about it.

    I can see the Apu character as being offensive (Seven-Eleven-owning, Slurpee purveying etc.) but I think anyone who thinks Peter Sellers was offensive in this portrayal hasn’t seen the movie or wasn’t paying attention.

    It’s just a great movie—and as much as I love Namak Halaal and the Big B, Peter Sellers is much funnier than Amitabh doing this schtick.

  6. I agree, Memsaab, I don’t think Peter Sellers was offensive in “The Party.” Rather than Apu, his character was more like if Homer had been invited to a big Hollywood party. :D

    I’m a lot more disgusted with “The Love Guru” advertising. Since I haven’t seen the film, I can’t comment on how Indians are portrayed, but from the trailers it looks like Mike Meyers exaggerates all the worst sterotypes without actually putting on blackface.

  7. Bid B copied a comedian! O well, Sellers and Blake Edwards made a great team and certainly were worth copying, I guess. Havent seen The Party but their Pink Panther series were hilarious.

  8. Just to be clear – I wasn’t saying that I found Peter Sellers offensive – I’ve never even seen the film. I was saying only that I’d read comments of other people citing him as the canonical offensive portrayal, and it wasn’t until I read your post that I had any idea what film the portrayal was in.

  9. Sorry Carla :-) I knew that, my tirade wasn’t directed at you.

    Mujhe maaf kardo!

  10. This is a weird movie, but there are 3 reasons why I like it. 1) Shashi 2) Smita Patil (one of India’s best actresses) and 3) The Music, in no paticular order.

  11. It is chock full of masala goodness. I think seeing Smita and Amitabh together is such a treat—she really was a great actress.

  12. I’ve seen the movie (The Party) and knew the answer to your question. :D
    I personally didn’t find his character offensive. Here’s what happens – some folks just get an A in Racism 201 and then suddenly they start seeing everything as offensive. And how exactly does one determine the grey cases of racism, more so when some Indians say they found it offensive, and others say they didn’t? Badi mushkil hai, is progressive world mein, what with false positives like the Duke case. ;)

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