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!