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Friday, 9 July 2010

Just a few words (Baton Baton Mein)

What is it with men and marriage? Why are they so scared of tying the knot? They are so ecstatic romancing the pretty damsel, but when it comes to settling down with her, they would love to be far far away... Well, in most cases that is...
Tony Braganza faces the same dilemma. And, to make matters worse, he is being prodded by Rosie Perreira, an overtly anxious widow, who wants to see her daughter happily settled in life. He loves Nancy Perreira all right, but having the overbearing motormouth Rosie, as a mother-in-law, is daunting for sure. So, Tony keeps procrastinating...
Basu Chatterjee's Baton Baton Mein is similar to his earlier Khatta Meetha on two counts. It deals with a mother's anxiety over her daughter's marriage (even Nargis had sleepless nights over Frenny's marriage, remember?). And, it stars the inimitable Pearl Padamsee. Just focus on her antics and this light-hearted 1979 comedy will become doubly enjoyable.
While Khatta Meetha is the story of a Parsi family, this film focuses on the lives of some Anglo-Indians living in Mumbai. It is their hopes, idiosyncrasies and aspirations that make this film so special. The best part is, this family could be living in your neighbourhood. So everyday are their problems and so dear are their moments of bliss. Sweet simple characters who make you laugh and cry with them. Yes, Baton Baton Mein is a slice of life again, from the talented Chatterjee.
Nancy is introduced to Tony in a local train while going from Bandra to Churchgate by her dear uncle Tom (David). Tony, a cartoonist on probation, is instantly attracted to the pretty girl and even expresses a desire to meet her family. On hearing about Tony, Nancy's mother is overjoyed. What better a news than that of a prospective son-in-law? She immediately weaves dreams of Nancy's marriage with Tony. Padamsee's peepers are perfect windows to her mind. As Nancy tells her about Tony, Padamsee's eyes widen with expectations. To the extent of starting to shine! She tidies up the house and decorates a basket with a large variety of fruits which she is determined to feed Tony with! And then as soon as she hears that he draws just Rs 300 per month, her state is like that of a deflating balloon. Sinking to the ground rapidly, after a sudden ascent! She tells Nancy, "Bus teen sau, tujhey to saat sau milti hain!" You can sense her irritation almost. But wait till Tony tells her that this Rs 300 will escalate to 1,000 when he is made permanent. Wait till those peepers start shining again!!
Then there is the violin-obsessed Saby played by Ranjit Chowdhry. He is remarkable. It's so funny how he simply saunters into the room playing a melancholic tune on his violin every time his mother and sister are having an argument and when Nancy, his sister, and her boyfriend are exchanging sweet nothings in the room. His mother is fed up repeating that this violin will get him no where. But, Saby is not bothered. He just is too indifferent. And adorable with his quirky sense of humour.
You actually sympathize with Rosie for driving her children up the wall at times. A widow with two children to support, only she knows her worries. She just wants Saby to do well in life and Nancy to get married. She gets really scared when Nancy's frivolous friend is almost trying to hijack Tony. And, that Tony is enjoying eating grapes from her hand doesn't help either. Even Nancy is upset with Tony's extra friendly show towards her friend. Soon, matters are back to where it started. Nancy and Tony distance themselves from each other and Rosie is back to searching suitable grooms for her lovely daughter, played by the attractive Tina Munim. She summons for Philomena Aunty (Leela Mishra) to help her!!
There is Henry of course. But, Rosie doesn't find him agreeable. For, he does not earn enough! This mousy guy from the neighbourhood loves Nancy but doesn't muster enough courage to tell her. What is this predicament? Nancy's life is full of men who are either commitment-phobic or are too scared to propose her. So, are Rosie's worries irrational?
Even though she tries telling Tony's mother that Nancy and Tony are in love (in a hilarious movie-hall sequence), matters turns for the worse. Tony's mother is least interested to get Tony married now and in irritated with Rosie falling all over her. Situations simply get too knotted and out of control before the protagonists start listening to the call of their heart. See what happens...
Padamsee is inexplicably good and so is Amol Palekar as Tony. He portrays his vacillating personality so well. Looking quite different with a French beard and spectacles, he convinces with his effortless performance. David is endearing as Uncle Tom. Tina Munim looks lovely but her dialogue delivery as usual, drab and monotonous.
This romantic comedy is spiced up by some lovely songs, composed by Rajesh Roshan. Kahiye suniye is a sweet romantic ditty. As Nancy and Tony walk with each other, one can see how they are falling in love. There is no extraordinary flourish in their overtures but as they talk and exchange sweet nothings, their hearts are merging.
Uthey sab ke kadam (inspired from Polly Wolly Doodle) is fun, especially for Leela Mishra's expressions. They are rib-ticklishly awesome. Na boley tum (copied from When Johnny Comes Marching_Home), sung in a restaurant is quite okay, too.
This film might look similar to Khatta Meetha. It has the same sensibilities and expressions. But watch it. For, it has a certain subtlety that's refreshing. Relationships can be so sweet, yet so poignant. Comedy can be so fine. Acting can be so natural and love can be so understated. If not for all this, watch Baton Baton Main for Pearl Padamsee. She is the scene stealer here...


  1. It's a cute film. I love it for exactly the same reasons. I love watching Amol Palekar movies - be it
    BBM, Chhoti Si Baat, Golmaal, Naram Garam, Chitchor
    and many more (chitchor and many more - wow, that even rhymes!) ;-)

  2. @Sunheriyaadein: Wow Ma'am poet. Yes, that rhymes! Awesome influence these lovely films are having on us, right?
    Yes, I love all these films you have mentioned. I also like some of Palekar's serious films such as Bhumika and Rajnigandha. They are very good. Really a talented actor he was!

  3. This is one of those films that makes me rethink my stance on 80s films (I generally dislike them) - its entertaining, it's well made, and very realistic, too. But then, I guess this was would be classed more as "parallel" or "art" film and not a regular Bollywood masala potboiler. The 80s had a lot of these small-budget slice-of-life films made by Basu Chatterji, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Sai Paranjpe. I wonder why nothing like this ever gets made now, except for the occasional Well Done Abba.

  4. @Bollyviewer: Exactly. Why doesn't films like these get made now? They just simply steal your heart. Yes, these three film directors gave us some fabulous films in the otherwise crass filmroll of the 80s. All their films were sweet and enjoyable. I can watch them all the time :)

  5. Tina Munim looks lovely but her dialogue delivery as usual, drab and monotonous.

    Well at times, her diaglogue delivery is downright comical especially when in company of seasoned actors like amol, david , padamsee.

    You forgot one interesting character of the movie, Amol's Dad, played by a very talented Arvind Deshpande. His calming influence on Amol seals the day.

  6. @Rupali: Yes Rupali you are right. Arvind Deshpande really has a calming effect on Amol, especially after his nagging mother ruins his day! Tina's acting continued to be drab in all her films after this. She just looked gorgeous. But, that's just about it.
    Thank you for the comment and keep reading :)

  7. Lovely Review, the stand out scene for me was Nancy's friend feeding her best friend's boyfriend grapes clearly restraint isn't a word in her dictionary and the songs as you've pointed out are fun. I agree with your criticism of Tina but i still find her very likeable and watchable

  8. One thing I appreciated in particular about this film (other than the fact that I liked it a lot, anyway!) was the fact that Christians weren't portrayed in the usual Hindi film style, with that weird Hindi!

  9. Bollywooddeewana: Yes, that film was hilarious. Especially when Rosie imagines herself throwing Nancy's friend out of the house. Rosie's eyes make it more hilarious.
    Yes, Tina is gorgeous, but that's about it.
    Thanks for the comment :)

  10. Dustedoff: Exactly, I loved that too. It is a wonderful insight into their lives. Their joys and sorrows portrayed so wonderfully. Why don't they make films like these anymore???

  11. Hi.. I remember watching this movie on TV a few yrs back.. that too in bits and pieces. don't remember much of it, save the actors and my fav David as uncle Tom. Thanks for reminding this lovely film.. adding it to my list. thanks :)

  12. @Punya: Yes Punya please watch this in entirety. It is extremely enjoyable :) And take good notice of Pearl Padamsee. She is marvellous :)