Thursday, 6 May 2010
Love's playing truant in your life? Seek Colonel Julius Nagendranath Wilfred Singh's advice. But, for that you have to watch Basu Chatterjee's Chhoti si Baat. And, after you've done that, I'm sure, you'll watch it again. Such is the delight of this 1975 roller-coaster romantic comedy.
The best part of this sweet film is its resemblance to every day life. Arun's story could have been the story of any man travelling with you in the bus, or train. You wouldn't even know what's in that man's mind. It's the same case with Arun (superbly subtle Amol Palekar). When he fancies himself to be like Dharmendra, and imagines wooing Prabha with Jaaneman jaaneman, he is just like us. Don't we sometimes step into the shoes and travel a zilion miles in dreamland imagining ourselves to be a celluloid diva spending tender moments with a dashing hero!!! Well, I do...
Arun is a mousy little character. Shy, timid, awkward and naive, he fails to stand up to his convictions and lets all and sundry walk over him. One day he spots Prabha (Vidya Sinha is fresh and attractive) in the bus, he is instantly besotted. But alas, he is no dashing dandy to sweep his princess off her feet. He is hesitant to approach her and fears whether Prabha would reciprocate his feelings. Prabha senses his affections and secretly relishes his discomfort while waiting for him to make the first move...
The worst part is that Arun has competition; the irritating Nagesh (a superlatively funny Asrani). Nagesh steals his thunder all the time. This chap threatens to snatch Arun's Prabha with his self-assertion, gregrarious temperament and over confidence. And it's high time that Arun runs for help...in the form of Colonel Singh (the less said about Ashok Kumar's mindblowing performance, the better), a love guru of sorts. What follows is a series of fun incidents that are too good to be divulged...
Arun returns from his training with a confident swagger and new-found self esteem. And we say a loud hurrah every time he shows Nagesh down!!!
There is a scene where Arun makes Nagesh wait for a long time before going out with him to play table tennis. It's outrageously funny!! Nagesh stands there in the heat while Arun bides time reading magazines and waiting near the door!!!
There is another gem...the restaurant scene!!! Nagesh's exasperation is rib-tickling. He is crazily ravenous but is restricted from wolving down the delectable Chinese fare by a pair of chopsticks!!! And after eating almost nothing Arun and Prabha leave him to cough up the bill!!! Wicked but funny!!!
There are some conspicuous but significant props that make Arun's journey of love and fulfilment more exciting. For instance, the motorbike!!! What a dupe!!! Then there's the paan and the saree!!! The chess game!! Those who've watched this classic know what I'm hinting at. For other's, you still don't know what you are missing!!
Asrani is such a mean man here...harmless though. For, he himself needs help!!! He is boastful, smooth and a nosey parker. But he meets his match in the metamorphosed Arun!! And it's a nail-biting finish to the game.
The referee is one wizard. Colonel Singh is one endearingly smart man. He monitors the youngsters' every move and knows exactly what to anticipate. He trains Arun dexterously, preparing him for every situation!!! I feel, he is the actual hero of this comedy. Dadamoni rocks!!!
Chhoti si Baat is a deadly cocktail! It packs in humour, fun, drama, emotions, love and feet-tapping music (a pretty good job by Salil Chowdhury). But what wins hands down is the triumph of a common man...and his minute but meaningful aspirations!!!