It’s not easy to make people laugh. Not when there’s so much stress all round. When was the last time you had a really good laugh watching a film? Most of comedies being made these days in Bollywood force a giggle out of us not because they are funny but because they are so stupid. While it’s difficult to pick out just five out of so many movies, here are some of the classics that must rank high on everyone’s list. Here’s looking at some genuinely funny comedies in Bollywood.
1. Padosan (1968)
Arguably the most successful Bollywood comedy of all times, Padosan is about a comely padosan (Saira Banu) whom her neighbour Bhola (Sunil Dutt) woes with songs sung for her on his behalf by Kishore Kumar. No no, not as a ghost voice off screen. But Kishore Kumar actually on screen singing 'Mere saamne wali khidki' and 'Kehna kehna hai' and 'Ek chatur naar' for Sunil Dutt as he mimes the songs for his ladylove. Hilarity at its highest, this is a film you can watch over and over again and still finds new reasons to laugh. R D Burman’s fabulous music score certainly added that extra zing, or shall we sing to the laughter.
2. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (1983)
Two photographers named after filmmakers Vinod Chopra and Sudhir Mishra played by Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Vaswani are out to get a scoop by catching a corrupt builder red-handed. The film is as crazy a watch today as it was when it released 36 years ago. The action is double-quick and the all the actors from display an impeccable comic sense. But my favourite performance was by Satish Shah. He played a corpse throughout the film. The climax on a live stage where the Mahabharat is lampooned would have been banned by the censor board today. Thank God for a more liberal past with a better sense of humour.
3. Chashme Buddoor (1981)
Three friends played by Farouque Shaikh, Ravi Baswani and Rakesh Bedi do all the normal things like ogling at girls, etc. Until one of them falls in love with the girl-next-door type. Chashme Buddoor was director Sai Paranjpye’s homage to the follies of youth. Funny, though not slapstick it was to student humour what Padosan was to ethnic satire? Sai made another splendid comedy Katha which wasn’t as successful probably because there was no character as sparkling and witty as Miss Chamko in Katha. David Dhawan made a hash of the Chashme Buddoor remake.
4. Gol Maal (1979)
Not the Rohit Shetty series of mirthless comedies. This Hrishikesh Mukherjee laughathon was about a disciplinarian played by the irrepressible Utpal Dutt who cannot stand men who don’t sport a moustache. Among the many joys of watching this timeless joy-provider was the late Dina Pathak as a sassy theatre actress willing to masquerade as Amol Palekar’s mother in front of future father-in-law Uptal Dutt for a price. Hrishida, as the prolific director was affectionately known, directed many successful comedies including the genuinely delightful Chupke Chupke. But none as bright and joyous as Gol Maal.
5. Pati Patni Aur Woh (1978)
No Bollywood actor had the comic timing of Sanjeev Kumar. He brought a swirling spark to every moment that he occupied the screen. And though his comic avatar has been much praised in the overrated Angoor, it is this tongue-in-cheek take on marital infidelity that had us in splits. We now have a remake on the way. Since all the other films in this list barring the untouchable Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron have been desecrated by remakes, we can only weep in advance at the thought of Kartik Aaryan doing a Sanjeev Kumar in the remake of Pati Patni… and woe. Time for a shower. Thande thande Pani Se.