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Monday, 12 July 2010

Chupke Chupke vs Chhadmabeshi

Game for some fun? Watch Agradoot's 1971 comic caper, Chhadmabeshi. But, don't stop at that. Move on to Chupke Chupke, Hrishikesh Mukherjee's inspired version of Chhadmabeshi. And, see the fun multiplying. A carbon copy of its Bengali predecessor, this 1975 comedy is a bomb. It explodes to hit you with action, entertainment and gags. And then, you suddenly realise how the Bengali version, though is enjoyable and has Uttam Kumar, the be-all-and-end-all of Bengali cinema, lacks punch and speed.
To the Bengali original then. Abanish Sen (Uttam Kumar), a professor of Botany, plays a practical prank on his brother-in-law, Barrister Prasanta Ghosh (Bikash Ray), who stays in Allahabad.
He charades as a driver and seeks employment under Ghosh. Since Ghosh is a stickler for good manners and impeccable prowess over Bengali, Sen presents a blemish-free profile. The Ghoshs are happy with him, mainly because Moshaheblal, their other driver, is cheeky and inept. He robs his employer of petty sums complaining of niggling techninal motor problems. So, Gourhari appears a Godsend.
Well, not for long. Soon he drives Ghosh and his wife, Sumitra (Anubha Gupta) to exasperation with his verbose nature. He keeps pelting them with silly queries, raising questions on the funniness of the English language (read the redundancy of 'p' in 'pneumonia' and 'ph' in 'phthysis') and brazenly retaliates to every small admonishment. When rapped a bit harder, he softens his voice to say, "Gorib boley apni amon korchen." (I'm poor hence you are behaving like this). Soon Ghosh and his wife loose their peace, thanks to Gourhari's comical grind.
Then comes the news that Abanish's wife, Sulekha, will be soon visiting the Ghoshs. (she is Sumitra's sister). Gourhari's eyes brighten, much to the irritation of the Ghoshs, who find a servant's joy at Sulekha's arrival highly inappropriate. But, Gourhari cooks up a story of his acquaintance with Sulekha and says that, "I like her very much and she loves me too!"
Sulekha arrives and makes herself comfortable in the charade. She pretends to know Gourhari and hardly talks of Abanish, her boring husband. The Ghoshs are further annoyed when she talks to him endlessly, sings with him, sits with him in the front seat in the car and has only pleasant things to say about this unnerving irritant. The Ghoshs keep worrying that when Abanish will come to Allahabad, he will get extremely angry seeing his wife getting cozy with this servant! Then suddenly one day Sulekha elopes with Gourhari, increasing our fun and the Ghoshs' worries...
The comedy increases when Abanish's friend, Subimal presents himself as Abanish, and pretends to be very hurt and angry with Sulekha when he arrives at Allahabad. He puts up at Binoy's place (Binoy is Abanish's dear friend and a party to the charade) and happily falls in love with Boshudha, his cousin! Much to the displeasure of Binoy's wife, Latika, played very well by Samita Biswas. (The Hindi one had the cute Lily Chakraborty in this role). The Ghoshs are now dumbstruck and we are left in splits...
The hindi version is the same, with a few tiny changes here and there (Hindi is stressed on instead of Bengali and the action shifts from Allahabad to Mumbai). But, the major difference is in the execution. Well, I won't say that the Bengali one is bad. In fact, it is very good. You cannot go wrong if you have Uttam Kumar with a bundle of comic tricks up his sleeves. It is infact Bikash Ray who disappoints. While you laugh away at Om Prakash's expressions as Raghavendra Sharma, the baffled brother-in-law who is at the receiving end of Pyare's antics, you keep wondering why Ray does not emote enough. He is a bit stiff. His chemistry with his fellow actors lacks steam. When Om Prakash tells Sumitra, "E Sumi, tu is tarha mere samne use Pyare Pyare mat bulaya kar, mujhey lagta hain mera patta kat gaya..." I find myself chuckling at his cute self. Prakash is crazily funny. His slur is so hilarious that you will your find your eyes moistening. And, when he has those verbal duels with Pyaremohan Illahabadi, you will find sitting straight difficult! When Sulekha elopes with Pyare, he suggests to Sumitra that they should elope too, ha ha...
Chhadmabeshi does not have Sharmila Tagore. The scores come down instantly. Not that Madhabi Mukherjee as Sulekha is bad. She is highly adequate. Everytime Gourhari opens his mouth to drill the Ghoshs with another of his verbal weapons, Sulekha chuckles. She plays on with Gourhari. She sings some brilliant songs and looks nice. But, again she is not the gorgeous Sharmila Tagore. It is not for nothing that Professor Parimal Tripathi is smitten. In fact, the Hindi one lays the ground for the fun, in a more convincing way. The blooming of Sulekha and the professor's romance is so sweet and salty that you can expect gags later. And, Sharmila looks perfect with Dharmendra. In the song Bagon mein kaise yeh phool khiltey hain, she is the epitomy of beauty in her red chiffon saree. As she romances Dharmendra (who looks killingly handsome in his driver's costume), you seem to lose yourself in the halcyon atmosphere. Sharmila has great comic timing, too.
Usha Kiran is Sumitra in Chupke Chupke. She is good but not better than Anubha Gupta, a class performer. She just walks away with the winner's crown against Usha Kiran. Watch her scenes with Gourhari. You'll know what I mean. Another blotch (sorry to offend her fans) is Jaya Bhaduri as Vasudha. She looks bad and is plain disinterested in this film from the start. Perhaps her medical condition is to be blamed for this (she was pregnant during the making of Chupke Chupke). Gone is the ebullience of Mili and Guddi and the quiet beauty of Abhimaan. In fact, Jyotsna Biswas was better as Boshudha. Though not much to look at, she paints a pretty picture of a shy girl who is attracted to a dashing professor, with much more elan.
Chupke Chupke starts very well. It shows Professor Tripathi duping a batch of college girls at a hill station during an educational excursion. He is uproarious as the chowkidaar, with his shawl and monkey cap. Everytime the fat teacher calls, Chowkidaaarrr", Dharmendra goes, "Ayaaa Memshaaaabbb." Very funny. In an attempt to pull off the charade better he even extorts petty bribes from the teacher with a giggle. And then tells her, "Bhagwan ne jitna bada jism diya hain utni badi dil bhi di hain!"
In fact, it is because if this dupe that we know that Professor Tripathi has a knack for pranks. And, he can pull them off with panache. With the help of Sulekha and Haripad Bhaiyya (David). In Chhadmabeshi the prank was too sudden. But, in Chupke Chupke, Sulekha's constant idolisation of Raghavendra Sharma, impinged on Parimal so much that he wanted to fool his brother-in-law. Just once, so that Sulekha admits that her husband is a master also.
In the Bengali film however, Subimal and Boshudha's story was much subtler and hence sweeter. Subhendu Chatterjee's act was understated and restrained. And, as the two fall in love, you smile with the realisation that at last Subimal will find happines with his darling Boshudha. In comparison, Amitabh Bachchan was loud (Ooops!). In an attempt to be funny, he was outright foolish. In fact, there was a disparity between his earlier persona in the Sa re ga ma sequence and during his gotup act. Constantly adjusting his spectacles, he tries to woo Vasudha. Totally lacklustre this Bachchan, compared to the superior act of Dharmendra.
I've written about the prowess of Jahar Ray in the post on Dhanni Meye . In Chhadmabeshi too, Ray has a very funny, though itsy bitsy, role. He plays Moshaheblal, Prashanta Ghosh's cheeky driver. He speaks funny Hindi and gloats with pride when Gourhari calls him ustadji. But he is stupid enough to believe Gourhari's bunkums. Watch him being fooled in the 'letter to God' sequence. Then there is the hilarious 'Mora hati lakh taka" scene. The best is of course Chhi chhi bade sharam ki baat, the song (sung by Anup Ghoshal) where Moshaheblal makes fun of Sulekha's elopement with Gourhari! Ray's wierd expressions are riotous! This comic effect Keshto Mukherjee could not achieve in Chupke Chupke.
There are some great songs in both the films. In that, there's no competition between Sudhin Dasgupta and SD Burman. The Bengali film has Ami kon pothey je choli , Bachao ke acho morechi je prem korey, both sung by Manna Dey (Uttam Kumar looks every bit the pining lover singing this song under Sulekha's window), Amar din katey na and Bohu durey cholo jai. The later two songs are lovely romantic ballads sung by Asha Bhonsle. The Hindi film has the haunting Chupke chupke chaldi purbaiyya (picturised on Jaya Bhaduri), Bagon mein kaise phool khiltey hain (Mukesh sings for Dharmendra here) and Ab se sajan sawan mein by Lata Mangeshkar. Personally I love Ab ke sajan sawan, for its mischievous picturisation. Sharmila is singing this teasing ditty remembering her lover. Dharmendra surreptitiously stands behind the curtain and holds on to her hand while Om Prakash is smelling things fishy! Awesome...
Last but not the least, the lead. Uttam Kumar and Dharmendra. Kumar is great. I can't refute that. But, there is something about Dharmendra! He is heartbreakingly handsome and stupendously funny. His act is effortless. His eye wrinkles are cute. In short, if drivers are like this, then God should make more of them!
Dharmendra's nasal twang makes the comedy even more ribtickling. His sudden squint, stammer and tricks trebble the fun quotient. Uttam Kumar is great, I repeat, but Dharmendra is just so much better. Watch him in the robber scene, in the brushing teeth scene and the "chugalkhor rumaal' scene, you will simply gasp for breath. And, there is a strong chemistry between him and Sharmila. You cannot escape that...
A suggestion. Watch Chhadmabeshi first. Then graduate to Chupke Chupke. Soon, you will realise that the Bengali one is just a trailor to the actual entertainer. Never a dull moment, it will pull you into its comic folds from the first scene itself...

34 comments:

  1. "you will realise that the Bengali one is just a trailor to the actual entertainer." That is exactly what I realised when I watched the Bengali version recently - after growing up with Chupke Chupke! The latter is intentionally over-the-top with everybody delivering less than restrained performances, which just adds to the fun.

    I only saw the first 30-40 minutes of Chaddmabeshi (it felt rather flat compared to it's Hindi remake), so I cannot compare Amitabh-Jaya to their counterparts in Chhadmabeshi, but I loved them both in this. AB was loud, but in such an endearing and fun way, and Jaya B was not manically cheerful, for once (as Guddi and Mili both are). For the rest, you and I are twin souls! :D Lack of Sharmila (and her dimples!) is a serious drawback in the Bengali film. Plus, without the Dharam-Sharmila romance and her Jija Ji-worship, the prank feels like it comes out of nowhere.

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  2. I'll agree with you re: Amitabh Bachchan's performance, bollyviewer! OTT, definitely, but delightful too. I love that scene where he meets Asrani and Dharmendra and is so angry that they've made him seem 'characterless' that he's almost spluttering with anger and self-pity! And Jaya too seemed fine to me, a little understated and quiet, but certainly adequate.

    I suppose I should see Chhadmabeshi sometime! But considering that I've seen Chupke-Chupke often enough to know it literally scene-by-scene, I'm not sure whether that'll be anything but an academic exercise...

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  3. @Bollyviewer: Okay, the point on Amitabh and Jaya taken :)
    I love Chupke Chupke (my Bengali friends will be killing me for this. Uttam Kumar is God for them) because of Dharmendra, Sharmila and Om Prakash. They are unbeatable. Thank you for the comment :)

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  4. @Dustedoff: I think you can watch Chhadmabeshi once. Uttam Kumar is not bad at all. But, overall the film might appear a bit slow. But, the songs are lovely. Great music by Sudhin Dasgupta. Asha Bhonsle is too good :)

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  5. @Sharmi: I won't go into the entire debate, because i need not. I view both the films from different perspectives. One is set in Calcutta and the nuances are quintessentially Bengali; the other is totally Bombaiyya. The tenor, texture, feel and even the brand of comedy in the two will naturally not be comparable. Chupke Chupke is a good film and so is Chhadmabeshi.
    Wonderful post, though :)

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  6. @Netdhaba: I agree with you on the setting. But, don't you think you are playing safe regarding the execution? Chhadmabeshi is undoubtably good. But, Chupke Chupke scores a bit more because every sequence is funny. There is never a dull moment in the Hindi one. It starts off in an awesome manner. While Chhadmabeshi sometimes slackens and is a pit patchy at points. Thank you for the comment though :)

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  7. Uttam Kumar, the be-all-and-end-all of Bengali cinem - I wish there was an option to like this sentence! * Likes * (in facebook style).
    I haven't seen the Bengali version but totally love it in Hindi. Every character was so endearing. AB was OTT and Jaya quieter but I liked all of them. Love the scene that dustedoff has mentioned.
    Constantly adjusting his spectacles, he tries to woo Vasudha. - and if I am not mistaken, he keeps adjusting his spectacles with his middle finger! ;-)

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  8. @Sunheriyaadein: Ha ha you are so funny Archana (read the middle finger comment)!!
    See the Bengali version just for Uttam Kumar, Jahar Ray and the songs. They are lovely. But, the Hindi ones wins hands down any day :)
    Thank you for the comment :)

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  9. Thank you sharmi for keeping my request! I always had a running battle with the calcutta bongs over chadmabeshi and chupke chupke. I always found myself in a minority among bongs while rooting for chupke chupke. But now I have your support:) You have so rightly pointed out in the end that chadmabeshi is just the trailor!
    Normally, copies lack the zing of the original, but chupke chupke is one of those rare movies that surpases the original both in terms of fleshing out the plot and the characters, giving a context to prof parimal tripathy's jealousy and his arrival posing as a driver!
    The play with the language is far more witty than the Bengali version. Consider the "hoon na nahin, hain na" retort of Dharmendra when an agitated B is trying to explain to his friends how his love story with Vasudha was not going anywhere! I love this sequence. Then of course in the beginning when pyaremohan responds in chaste hindi "Hum loh path gami agnirath se chalke aye hain..."
    I have forgotten the number of times I have seen this movie and I'm glad at least one bong agrees with me abt the film:)
    This film should be noted for Dharmendra's performance, Hrishikesh Mukhejee made this macho hero act! And though AB was a bit OTT but I think it went with the character. His fidgeting and loud guffaws were manifestations of his nervousness!
    The difference between Uttam Kumar and Dharam pa ji is that the Jat managed to come out of his established image to play the comic hero but the Bengali superstar kind of retained his characteristic even when he is playing the driver.
    I could go on and on talking about this film but I want to end it with one point for Chadmabeshi, mosaheb lal did a better job than our james D'costa! And I love the half bengali song picturiesd on him "kya sharam ki baat, bhaddar ghar ka ladki bhage deriver ka saath..." :)

    Cheers!

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  10. @Deysaid: You have said it all Abhi. Thank you for this wonderful comment. Yes, Hrishikesh Mukherjee did make Dharmendra act with elan. And, this film reflects his chemistry, with not just the gorgeous Sharmila but Om Prakash also. Wasn't he just great???
    Yaaayyyyyy for Chupke Chupke :)
    Thanks a lot again for the comment :)

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  11. How do I source Chhadmabeshi? I haven't been able to find it in Pune. Will I have to get it from Kolkata?
    Excellent blog, by the way.
    Arijit

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  12. @Arijit: Thanks for the praise. You will get Chhadmabeshi in Kolkata for sure. But for the time being you can watch it online over here:

    http://www.rajshribengali.com/Video/Chhadmabeshi

    Enjoy!

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  13. I have to agree with you..Chupke Chupke is better and funnier(@deysaid..most bengalis from Calcutta agree with me--who have you been talking to =) )and yes AB is OTT but oh so apt...I love the dharmendra-asrani-AB scene...

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  14. @Mishti: Dharmendra was super duper funny. This time Uttam Kumar could not match upto his histrinics. I laughed my guts out while watching Chupke Chupke. The Bengali film is not bad at all but the Hindi one is way way better. Thanks for the comment and keep reading :)

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  15. One thing I really like doing is listening to Sa re ga ma, and dole dodul of Deya Neya, one after the other.... I love that these kinda filler songs, dominate the rest of the songs in two otherwise excellent musicals

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  16. @Shom: Dole Dodul is very good a song. But I think sa Re Ga Ma is kind of funny rather than being musical.

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  17. while ,i also agree that chupke chupke is better than chhadmabeshi,but then it ought to be that because what's the point in remaking a film ,only to make it worse then thr original.in my opinion, a remake should be better than than the original,otherwise there's no point in remaking a film.by the way,i don't agree with you that dharmendra is better than uttam kumar.yes,dharam is very handsome and a good actor,but as far as acting skills are concerned, mahanayak is way better.saying that dharam is a better actor than uttam only shows blind fan worship on your part.sorry to say that.i am myself a fan of dharam but uttam is better actor,no doubt.yes ,dharam did a good job in film,but again,i repeat,in my opinion everything in a remake,be it actors,screenplay,music etc should be better or at least as good as the original.unless that happens,i think a remake should never be made.in this case,hrishida achieved that and that's what made him so great.

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  18. @Madmusic: Well, then you might also call me a blind worshipper of Uttam Kumar of you read how gaga I went over him in the posts on his Bengali films!!! I never said Dharmendra is a better actor than Uttam. I can never say that. I love Uttam Kumar. But for me, Chupke Chupke supercedes the Bengali original.

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  19. i ,too agree with you that chupke chupke is way better than chhadmabeshi, but,i can't agree with you on some other things.but then,to each his own.Isn't it so?

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  20. well, since you are such a great fan of dharm,i think you might become happy to know that dharm actually did a very good movie in bangla called PARI with the great Dilip kumar.the movie released in 1962 or 61.You might also know about this already.Interestingly,Pari is among the top 10 favs movies of dharmendra himself among the films in which he acted.

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  21. @Madmusic: Oh great! thanks for the trivia! Well I like Dharmendra but my favourite happens to be Shammi Kapoor!

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  22. i know that shammi kapoor is your fav.But from your reviews ,it is quite clear that dharm also features in your top 5 favourite heroes .is that not so?

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  23. @Roshmi: Please do. You'll enjoy every bit :)

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  24. don't know the qualification of those who put their comment about chhadmabeshie and chupke chupke...any day, any time, chhadmabeshie will be way ahead than chupke chupke...and Dharm Ji tried so much to cope up with UK, but at the end, his performance was just good. He did not even touch 20% of UK.

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  25. @Niladri: I don't think it has anything to do with qualifications. It's all about personal likes and dislikes. Both are great films and shud be enjoyed in entirety.

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  26. Well,some things are not quite clear here.You say that Chupke Chupke is a carbon copy of Chhadmabeshi but you also say that CC is better.How can a thing be better or badder if it's a carbon copy?
    Again,in the review of the film you have written that Dharm is a better actor than uttam,but you deny that in one of the comments below.Quite strange.
    Coming back to performances,I find Uk's performance better than Dharm.[It's my plain personal view though].But while comparing the performances of actors in both CC and Chhadmabeshi,one must always keep in mind that actors in CC had in Hrishikesh Mukherjee-a great director whereas in Chhadmabeshi,actors were directed by Agradoot,who are good but are not as great as Hrishida,

    Another thing that i have noticed while reading through your wonderfully written blog is that you tend glorify the actors and give them most of the credit of a film.eg-Chupke Chupke.Well,That's not a good thing to do.Films are mainly a director's medium unlike theatre.So,if you like or love a film,the main credit should go to the director,followed by the writer.It's the director and the writer who deserve all the applause and praise.Example-I think it's Hrishida,Upendranath Ganguly,Gulzar and D.N.Mukherjee who should be the major reasons why people like/love CC,not Dharm,Omprakash,Sharmila and other actors.

    P.s:Yes,Uttam kumar is God for Most bengalis and they will beat you if you criticize him just the same way Shammi is God for you and you will beat others if they criticize your Darling Shammi.

    From A jat bong.

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  27. @JatBong: Whoever has refuted the claim that Uttam Kumar was and is God?!
    I guess if you read my other posts on Uttam Kumar films, you'll realise that I too am a dying fan of the Mahanayak. Read my post on Nayak. I guess yo will be silenced.
    And kindly start reading my posts carefully (in between the lines to be precise) instead of being superficial. I give enough credit to the makers, without whom the whole film will fall through.
    And again, this is my blog, whereI can air my views uninhibitedly. So, if I feel i liked Chupke Chupke better, and have the guts to say so, I really don't care if I upset anybody.
    Criticisms of course are welcome. It only proves that my blog is being read.

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  28. Well,you seem terribly upset and angry.Well i will try to answer you why i wrote what i wrote,keeping my Jat temper in control.
    AS for who refuted the claim that Uttam kumar was and is God?! Well you yourself in this post of yours wrote that Uttam is god for your Bengali friends and they will kill you for criticizing him.I was just answering that query of yours.Nothing else.

    Yes,i have read your Nayak and other posts on Uttam films before i wrote my comment here.Yes,it is quite evident that you are a die hard fan of Uttam but it is also quite evident from this post of yours that you are even a bigger die hard fan of Dharmendra.

    And yes,i have kindly read most of your posts carefully and then came to the conclusion tnat you tend to glorify the actors more.I never said that you do not give any credit to the makers but you give more credit to the actors and music.For example,for every six lines showered on the actors in your blog,there is just a line or two showered on the makers[That's a fact and please don't deny that.And no,I am not Superficial.].To stress my point further,Take this post of yours for example.There is no mention of Upendranath Ganguly,who wrote such a hilarious storyline at the first place.Neither there is any mention of D.N.Mukherjee,the screenplay writer or Gulzar,the Dialogue writer.And Hrishida,the director,gets mentioned only once while you went gaga over the actors.You see,that was my point.I was just saying that more credit should be given to the makers than the actors.I was just giving a suggestion that,in my opinion,would make your already wonderful blog,even better.But strange,you got upset.Of course, it's your blog and if you think a line or two for the makers is like giving enough credit to the makers,when you write paragraphs praising the actors,i don't think i should say much or say anything at all.

    Oh,I fully appreciate the fact that if you like something and have the guts to say so,then you should not really care if it upsets anyone.But the same thing goes for the readers of your blog,who comment on your blog.And,you yourself should not get upset if somebody disagrees with your view.Of course,you said that criticism is welcome but your statements seem to suggest otherwise.The last line of your comment above was not exactly a very good statement to make.In fact,it showed your proud nature.[Sorry,but being a proud person is not a good thing and i can't appreciate that.].I wasn't upset before[i was just airing my view],but that last line hurt me a lot.

    well,that's all for now.Happy New Year in Advance.

    From a JatBong.

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  29. @Anonymous: Hmm again. Have a good year ahead.

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