Angoor (1982)

Mrs. Beige has been staying with me for a few days and bless her, she always enjoys watching a Hindi movie. (Well, not always.) We watched Seeta Aur Geeta the other night and at the end she pronounced it “Shakespearean” which I realized was bilkul correct. That made me think of this film, a marvellous adaptation by Gulzar of the Bard’s “Comedy of Errors” which I’ve owned for a long time but never watched all the way through. It, too, features twins who are mistaken for each other (in this case two sets of them) with hilarious consequences. The performances are deftly handled, and the script witty and well-paced (I could have done without most of the songs though).

Raj Tilak (Utpal Dutt) and his wife (Shammi) are the parents of identical twin sons whom Raj Tilak has named Ashok. His thinking seems to run along the lines of “Since we can’t tell them apart anyway, let’s just call them by the same name to make everything easier” although it occurs to me that dressing the twins differently might help with that. Khair.

The Tilaks are on their way to a holiday aboard a ship (NOOOOO!) and stop for a rest. They are told that another set of identical twin boys has been abandoned at a nearby temple, and decide to adopt them and bring them up as servants for their own sons. Tilak names these two Bahadur.

Naturally there is a storm at sea and the ship breaks apart, separating Tilak and his wife, who each end up with one Ashok and one Bahadur. (For clarity’s sake I am going to call the twins A1 and A2, and B1 and B2.) Years pass, and Ashok 1 and Bahadur 1 (Sanjeev Kumar and Deven Verma) are brought up in the city of Dinakpur by Gangaprasad, whose munshi took in the boys after Raj Tilak died. Gangaprasad has two daughters named Sudha (Moushumi Chatterjee) and Tanu (Deepti Naval). A1 has married Sudha, and B1 a maidservant by the name of Prema (Aruna Irani). B1 and Prema keep house for Ashok 1, Sudha and the unmarried Tanu.

Sudha and A1 quarrel a fair amount, mostly because Sudha is a fairly suspicious woman (I am never quite clear on whether her suspicions are correct) who thinks A1 is having an affair with a woman named Alka.

Now we meet Ashok 2 and his servant Bahadur 2, who are traveling to Dinakpur with 1 lakh rupees for an agricultural business transaction. They have grown up with Mrs. Raj Tilak, who survived the wreck with them and is still alive. A2 has a vivid and overactive imagination, fuelled by his love for pulp fiction. B2 is as stoic and loyal as his twin, with an additional fondness for bhang (subtitled “dope”).

A2’s natural paranoia is made even worse by the large amount of money he is carrying. When they disembark at Dinakpur and are instantly “recognized” by first the station master and then the local taxi driver (Ram Mohan), he decides that they must be part of a gang after his 1 lakh.

Sudha has asked A1 to buy her a pretty diamond necklace. A1 has dutifully ordered one for her from jeweller Chedilal (CS Dubey), but his goldsmith Mansoor (Yunus Parvez) is taking his sweet time making it. Sudha is getting impatient and accuses him of giving it to Alka instead. Sweet Tanu plays peacemaker.

Across town at the Imperial Hotel, A2 locks up his money in the cupboard with strict instructions for B2 to stay in the room to guard it (he’s only allowed to open the door when A2 returns and sings “Preetam aan milo” from Mr. & Mrs. 55—a strange choice, but hilarious) and sets off to conduct his business transaction.

The beleaguered A1 stops at the jeweller’s to inquire once more about the necklace. Chedilal tells him that the diamond merchant who supplied the stones for it wants his money; A1 says he’ll pay when he gets the necklace, and is assured that it will be ready that evening.

A2 meets with the owner of an estate outside of town and takes the local bus back in after the meeting. He gets off the bus at the town market, where B1 is doing the grocery shopping for Prema. B1 sees him and goes over to talk to him, surprised when A2 lights up a cigarette (A1 is a snuff man and doesn’t smoke). A2 is equally astonished to see Bahadur, who is supposed to be at the hotel watching over his money. They talk at cross-purposes for a while, then go their separate ways: a furious A2 to see if his 1 lakh is safe and B1 home to tell Prema that A1 has apparently gone insane and is smoking and denying that he is married.

Prema convinces Bahadur to tell Sudha what happened; predictably enough, Sudha is distraught and convinced that her marriage is ruined. Tanu tries to calm her and orders a reluctant B1 to go and find Ashok; she has a concert that evening and doesn’t want it ruined by the household’s domestic issues. She tells him to start at Alka’s since he hasn’t showed up for lunch and has probably gone there to eat.

But since A1 is still in his office sulking about his morning fight with Sudha, Alka (Padma Chavan) hasn’t seen him. Bahadur tells her about Ashok’s behavior in the market and she is shocked; I find it a little sad that it’s the smoking which surprises her, not the slapping. He also tells her about the fight between A1 and Sudha, so Alka suggests he check next at the jeweller’s.

At Chedilal’s, the diamond merchant Ganeshilal (TP Jain) is pestering the jeweller for his money. Chedilal tells him to come the next morning to collect it, since A1 will be picking up the necklace that evening and paying for it. When B1 arrives he tells Chedilal, too, about the incident at the market—with a little embellishment.

Chedilal tells B1 to check A1’s office since he’s not expecting to see Ashok until 9 pm that evening for the necklace.

Evening comes, and with it Tanu’s concert (as befits her demure, bespectacled persona, it is Carnatic-inspired music—sadly, no cabaret). She is surprised to see Ashok and Bahadur arrive, not realizing that they are A2 and B2. She almost drops her microphone when A2 lights up a cigarette.

After the concert she sends someone to take them backstage, but A2 refuses, sending a tip instead. She tracks him down, angry, and their argument escalates as they each become more and more confused about what the other is talking about. The local chief of police, Inspector Sinha (Colonel Raj K Kapoor) intervenes and forces A2 to accompany Sudha home in his jeep, with a confused B2 following in the taxi. Sudha is relieved to see her husband, but he is horrified when she takes him up to “their” bedroom.

The taxi driver drops B2 off at A1’s house as well. Bewildered, he decides to try out A2’s “code song”—and is even more confused when Prema ushers him in happily, and puts him to work grinding paste for the evening’s pakoras (subbed as “fries”).

Upstairs, A2 is trying to fend off Sudha, who is trying unsuccessfully to ply him with alcohol (A1 likes his drink) and who shocks him with several pieces of news.

He is further dumbfounded when B2 appears with a plate of pakoras. B2 ignores A2’s frantic questions about his impending fatherhood, and informs A2 in a whisper that he has put bhang in the pakoras so he should not eat them, but feed them to Sudha and Tanu.

Meanwhile A1 and B1 are waiting at the jeweller’s for the necklace to be finished.

A2 is no match for A1’s determined wife and finally takes a drink…and then another…and then another. When Sudha passes out from the effects of the pakoras, A2 makes his way drunkenly to Tanu’s room and offers her the rest of them. She pops one in his mouth and the two of them (by now A2 has had way too much alcohol anyway) finish them off, despite Tanu’s insistence that they taste funny. I am struck by A2’s philosophical response. Words to live by, people.

Downstairs B2 has fed Prema into a drugged sleep, and he goes upstairs to look for A2. Unable to find him, he wanders back downstairs and decides to join the others in bhang-land. He’s halfway there when A1 and B1 return home, having given up on getting the necklace that night. Chedilal has assured A1 that he will deliver the necklace to him first thing in the morning at home. But the house is locked up, and when B2 hears them knocking he figures it’s “the gang” responsible for all the crazy behavior of the town inhabitants (he and A2 still think a gang is after their 1 lakh rupees). To scare them off, he barks like a dog, thus confusing A1 and B1 and incidentally sending my own Gilda into a frenzy. Eventually they give up and decide to go and sleep at Alka’s house.

Early the next morning A2 and B2 wake up, and after B2 manages to retrieve the house keys from unconscious Prema’s bosom they make their escape. Convinced that the whole town is crazy and/or after their money, they decide to leave—but before he can get back to the hotel, A2 is confronted by Mansoor the goldsmith, who insists on delivering the necklace to him as promised.

Waking up at Alka’s, A1 sends B1 home for fresh clothes and curses his stubborn (as he sees it) wife as he gets ready to go to Chedilal’s for the necklace.

What will happen when he finds out “he” already has it? What will A2 do with it? Will he take it with him as he and B2 leave town? What will Sudha do when she discovers where her husband spent the previous night? Will they all end up in a nut house together? Or in divorce court?

If you haven’t seen this film, do. In roles which could have been painfully overdone, Sanjeev Kumar and Deven Verma are perfectly and hilariously understated as the frustrated Ashoks and hapless Bahadurs. The rest of the cast is wonderful too: Moushumi Chatterjee’s brittle Sudha has a charm which makes you root for her, and Deepti Naval is perfect as the bookish but sweetly solicitous younger sister. The screenplay is well done, with the mixups and ensuing confusions plausibly handled, and containing moments of wonderful and humorous insight into human foibles—just as Shakespeare intended.

74 Comments to “Angoor (1982)”

  1. This is one of the great all-time comedies. Out of directorial output by Gulzar saab, this was the only comedy he ever directed. Years earlier in 1968, Gulzar and his fellow followers of the Bimal Roy school attempted to make a similar film called “Do Dooni Chaar”. That film came and went without notice but Gulzar saab revisited it years later as “Angoor”. The first time I saw this I couldn’t stop laughing. Gulzarsaab should’ve attempted more comedies.

    • Yes, that’s right. Gulzaar was the lyricist of “Do Dooni Chaar” (1968) starring Kishore Kumar and Asit Sen. He spotted a hit film in the story and made it again as “Angoor”.

      Doesn’t “Parichay” (1972) classify as a comedy under his direction?

    • Certainly this is my favorite Gulzar film…he should have done more comedies. This is just a marvellous, wonderful movie :)

  2. I absolutely love Angoor. As you said, the entire thing could so obviously have become tiresome. Instead, it’s a light souffle that one never tires of.

    I loved the hat tip to Shakespeare at the very end … I hope it didn’t get chopped off with the credits.

  3. One of my favourite all-time comedies! :)) Weren’t Sanjeev Kumar and Deven Verma pitch perfect as the two sets of twins? (I liked A2 better among the two Ashoks. Especially when he would go ‘Shhhhh’.) Every time I read a new paragraph in your review, it would bring to mind another incident in the movie – I haven’t stopped laughing. :))

  4. I loved your review, thanks! This is still my favourite Hindi comedy, and makes me wish more filmi directors would mine Shakespeare for his comedies. Bhardwaj did a superb job with Maqbool & Omkara, but this excellent film shows how well Shakespeare’s comedies fit with the filmi universe.

    • Yes, Shakespeare’s comedies (like opera) seem tailor-made for Indian cinema treatment…my mother was SO RIGHT when she called Seeta Aur Geeta “Shakespearean” too.

  5. A wonderful film indeed. I loved everyone in it. Sanjeev, Moushumi, Deepti, Deven Aruna.
    Loved the part where he’s reading a detective novel called ‘agyat apradhi’ meaning ‘Unknown criminal’ hahaha. There was a rumour it will be remade, but I’m glad I haven’t heard of any more details, so apparently it’s been called off. Good.

    • pacifist, noooooo! When will they learn to leave the good films alone?? I know there’s a serious lack of creativity, but do they really have to remake the classics?? :(

      • I tend to agree about remakes, and am positively dreading the David Dhawan remake of Chashme Buddoor.To be fair, though, Angoor itself very explicitly concedes that it is itself a remake, of the Shakespeare original.

    • Why do people try to improve on perfection? I think I’ll give any remake a pass. And yes, everyone in this is perfect, right down to the smallest supporting character.

  6. What a delicious film this was, as delicious as a bunch of grapes. I remember laughing all through the movie, sometimes clutching my stomach. As you say, excellent acting by Deven and Sanjeev. That ‘Pritam aan milo’ was hilarious, as was Deven trying to extract the keys from Aruna’s bosom. Moushami was so cute, with her eyewashes and constant crying.

    As Shakespere said “All is well that ends well”

  7. A2: “Kya aapke kandhe pe til hai?”
    (Do you have a mole on your shoulder?)

    A1: “Nahin to…..”

    A2: “Mere Kandhe Pe Bhi Nahin Hai !!”
    (Its not on my shoulder too !!)

  8. super movie…among the best comedies , so understated , no loud hamming. Hari bhai at his best .

    His expressions and timing of his scene , asking for directions …to the rickshawalla – ghanta ghar etc …worth watching only for that

    a word for the unsung supporting cast – padma chavan , yunus pervez, dubey , jain , col kapoor , ram mohan- they rocked

  9. When we find ourselves cornered, mu husband and I still turn to each other and mouth ‘gang…’

    • LOL!! “Gang hai GANG”….I think I may need to adopt that too, although my favorite line in the film (or I should say subtitle because I’m sure it’s not as funny in the original) is “Being tasty is the bottom line”…love.

  10. Bhang is marijuana.

  11. “Nanga” mat kaho ….”BIna kapde ke” kaho”
    That`s hillarious dialogue.

    Excuse me for the langauge, Greta ji, But the hillarious dialogue is like that way.

  12. Padma Chavhaan met with an road accident, I think and died, in real life.

  13. This movie is a classic.. you can watch it again and again and it will always entertain. and almost every scene is worth mentioning !! There is that one sequence with both Deven Vermas buying the rope and bargaining for 2 rupees – that is my favorite!

  14. This movie is enjoyable right from the start. Just watching the expressions on the faces of the actors makes for an interesting experience. The dialogue is just the icing on the cake.

    As an aside I would like to mention that during the summer of 1982, Angoor and Shaukeen (another nice comedy) were running side by side and we had a tough time deciding which of these movies to watch first. @Memsaab – have you watched Shaukeen, yet?

  15. I’d last seen it more than 25 years ago and forgotten most of the scenes. When I saw you’d put up the review, I decided to first watch it again and then read the review. It was long long overdue anyway for watching.

    What a movie! Absolute classic! I was laughing all the way – every single scene, every single dialogue, every single facial expression is just perfect. And like has been said, not a single wasted scene. And it all fits in just perfectly. The comedy flows, it is not contrived.

    I saw the subbed version – and though the subs were very good, I can tell you some of the dialogues were just GOLD in their raw form – the subs could not do justice to them. But they’re very good subs nevertheless.

    Throughout, I was just marvelling at Sanjeev Kumar’s acting – he was just SO AWESOME! The other actors were also very very good. Moushumi and Deepti Naval are anyway among my favourites. And the supporting cast were also terrific.

    There are so many scenes that had me in splits.Yunus Parvez talking in Urdu – just too good! And the rope buying scene! And the “aap-tum” thing! And so many more.

    This is a film that is ageless. You can watch this after another 25 years (like I did today) and it will still make you laugh your heart out. I am sure of that.

    Thanks, memsaab, for bringing this back on my radar. Every now and then I’d think of watching it again but never really got down to doing it. Only when I realised you’d put up a review, I decided it was really high time I went back to this classic.

    • Some of the subtitles themselves made me laugh out loud, and I was glad that at least with some years of watching Hindi films under my belt now I did get the “aap-tum” thing (which is really impossible to subtitle properly). This is a classic going on my favorites shelf for sure!

  16. Although “Angoor” makes me smile rather than laugh out loud, I loved Ashok #2 and could totally relate to his conspiracy paranoia fueled by reading one too many thrillers.:-D The “Gang hai” bit has become shorthand in my family for all sorts of peculiar behaviors. :-)

    • But doesn’t it make you smile all the way through? With LOL moments…LOVE that “Gang hai” has made it into family shorthand for more than just a few it seems :)

  17. I introduced my 9-year old to this movie a few months ago, and she absolutely loves it! And coincidentally, she’s been driving us nuts playing ‘Preetam aan milo’ constantly over the past few days :)

    PS. Since I’ve been a long-time reader, but am commenting for the first time, I’d like to add that I love your reviews more than the movies themselves. You have a gift — thanks for sharing it!

  18. Angoor is classic comedy film. Both sanjeev kumar and moushmi chatterjee had brilliant comic timing, another film of this pair was ” itni si baat’ must watch this fun movie too.

  19. I’m seeing that the gang hai bit is standard household usage for several of us – heard it so many times, yet it always makes me smile. We watched this a few months ago, the excuse being it was to enlighten our children, don’t know how much they enjoyed it, but they did see it through. I think they found Tanu’s glasses pretentious and I told them they were meant to be. Lovely Deepti Naval, glasses and all.
    In my mind, I too pair off Tanu with A2 at the end of every viewing. As for Moushumi, she really, really deserved that naulakkha haar for her performance as Sudha. She can play suspicious wife mighty well in that suspiciously charming way of hers.
    When I first saw the movie as a teenager, I found the preetam aan milo rendition funny – when he makes up lyrics like raat akele darr lagta hai, jungle jaisa ghar lagta hai…
    This was one of those movies that came out in `comic’ book form (I’m remembering another Dharmendra-Reena Roy movie picture book too.
    Was dismayed Utpal Dutt was bumped off so early in the proceedings.

    • Tanu and A2 clearly have chemistry :) I love her and her huge spectacles (at that point in time I had huge spectacles too, except I needed them to SEE).

      And this is the first I’ve heard of “comic book” versions of movies!? would love to see some of them :)

  20. As always, you have done this film total justice…it remains one of my favourite Hindi comedies…and I really love the fact that you have highlighted a couple of things which I failed to notice when watching the film…GREAT JOB!

    • Thanks Gaby :) but really the only way to do this film justice is to watch it—over and over and over!

      • I completely agree, memsaab…i only managed to see this film once, but it really captivated me…my favourite things about this movie are actually the two Asha Bhosle solos, one picturised on Moushumi and the other on Deepti Naval…this is where Panchamda’s musical versatility comes to light!

  21. Your review and the comments have me laughing. Now I know what movie I will be watching (again) this weekend. Just to add to everyone’s stories, my family also loves to say “koi gang hai” in very hushed tones to explain any strange thing. Also, I tell my sister “didi tumhare jaisi jalkookdi aaj tak nahin dekhi” when she has a fight with my brother in law (Deepti Nawal says it once to Moushami).

    I am no great musician but I think Deepti Nawal’s concert song is in the Hindustani style of Indian classical music and not in the Carnatic style.

    • I have no idea about Indian classical music, I only know it reminded me of the style of singing from Morning Raga which I think is Carnatic…but in any case, I DO know that it was meant to show how “cultured” Deepti was :)

  22. This is one of my favourite Hindi comedies – it always has me ROFL…and the chemistry between Sanjeev Kumar and Deven Verma is fantastic!

    • I know, I can’t believe it took me so long to watch the whole thing! It’s been right there on my list of “to watch” forever, and now it’s on my “watch again” shelf :)

  23. Angoor makes me want to read Comedy of Errors.
    I am of the opinion that Alka IS A1’s mistress?
    What I am more curious is, what happened on the fateful night between A2 and Tanu? Moreover why is shocked when she realises that it was A2 and NOT A1?
    A1 seems to be quite an womaniser and Angoor is anything but a shallow comedy (not that anybody said it is).
    Gulzar like Shakespeare knew how to make his audience laugh (at themselves) and then make it get stuck in the throat if looked at close quarters.

    • Shakespeare is so much fun to read :)

      I think Alka and A1 have something going for sure, but the movie doesn’t make it clear exactly what that something is…And there was definitely flirtation between A2 and Tanu over the doctored pakoras, although I don’t think anything “happened” per se. I think she was pleased to discover that there was an A2 :)

    • In the last scenes Tanu faints, out of shock, and when revived says some confusing things to Alka about she not being Jijaji because he kissed her last night.

      Alka is shown wearing orange with a rudraksh mala. I think she is some sort of spiritual companion to Sanjeev.

      • Ah that wasn’t subtitled (the kissing line), and what you say about Alka seems logical, that she was some sort of spiritual advisor, because their relationship didn’t seem romantic at any point to me. In fact, A1 and Sudha had some sweet chemistry going between them, even though they fought a lot.

  24. Inspector Sinha (Trilok Kapoor) was Colonel Kapoor or Raj Bharati as OSHO Rajneesh named him

  25. It was a very good story line with great misplacement of some children (twins). What a great comedy.
    It was such an un-complicated,beautiful honest performance. I never knew that the late Sanjeev Kumar was good in comic films. My first glance of his comic skills was in ”Seeta aur Geeta” as a fighting doctor in Roopesh Kumar’s hiding dungeon. (that was fun). Deven Verma was also great like he was in ”Chori Mera Kaam”

  26. Finally I watched this movie yesterday for the first time, and I loved it. I must say that Gulzar indigenised , indianised and modernised Shakespear’s tale wonderfully well. There was never a dull moment in the movie even if the story is well known. The dialogues are quite funny, I am not sure if all dialogues were subtitled.

    I fully agree that songs were not needed in this movie. Thankfully there were quite few of them in this movie.

  27. Memsaab, the role of Inspector Sinha was played by Col. Raj K Kapoor, not Trilok Kapoor
    TV Director Col. Raj Kapoor!!

  28. One of the finest comedies, Giving a great tribute to Shakespear.
    Sanjeev Kumar in his 40s in this film and Deven Verma both make a great team, Gulzar who directed Aandhi and other serious films gave one of the best comedies for Bollywood
    Was this film a big hit?

  29. not completely related to this post but just saw Sanjeev Kumar in Shatranj ke Khilari a few days back and my what a mind blowing actor. His range and versatility take your breath away. Of course I could watch Shatranj ke Khilari just for itself, the period drama, the costumes. truly a great movie.

  30. Just a quick subtitle correction: The screencap where A2 returns to the hotel after meeting B1 for the first time at the market. A2 yells at B2 “High on bhaang, you were rampaging through the market like a bull!”

  31. This brought back some fond memories. Angoor is part of my holy trinity of Hindi comedies, alongside Golmaal and Naram-Garam.

    What I liked especially was the random PJ ‘shaairi’ by Yunus Parvez. It was absolutely hilarious and brought out the typical Indian trait of poking one’s nose into other people’s affairs. Chedilal and Ganeshilal (diamond merchant, perpetually anxious) were great too. TP Jain has slimed in many other movies but this is the role I most remember him by.

    Mousmi Chatterjee has been the sexiest bong import in Hindi movies and this movie is a highlight.

  32. how come no one knows that this movie is lifted from a bengali moview called ‘bhranti bilash’?

  33. But when babies are adopted will they not be treated like sons and not servants?
    No one adopts servants

  34. Any idea where the movie was shot

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