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Friday, 14 January 2011

Watch just for the fun (Naram Garam)

Sometimes I wonder whether Utpal Dutt got pigeonholed into playing the same kind of character when he signed a Hrishikesh Mukherjee film. Look at his roles in Golmaal, Naram Garam and Kissi Se Na Kehna. You'll find that his persona borders on the same lines. He is loud and prone to committing verbal faux pas at the drop of a hat, is always suspecting people for tiny little things, is acting in the most hilarious manner and is being painfully funny without even realising it. He is lovable, silly yet so endearing. And he even looks the same. So what can be the rationale behind watching these films over and over again, when you get to see the same old Utpal Dutt in all the three films.

Many. Just see the films in isolation. Stop dissecting and bisecting it for cinematic details. Go with the flow of the story and enjoy the thrilling roller coaster ride. Every film is unique, every story is cute and every bit of laughter is worth it.
For instance, take Bhawani Shankar Vajpayee in the 1981 comedy Naram Garam. Barring the female lead and some supporting characters, Mukherjee has retained his principal cast. He gives Utpal Dutt the most rib-tickling role. He depicts Shatrughan Sinha in a light seen never before. He deglams the pretty Swaroop Sampat (but unfortunately cannot extract the histrionics from her). He sets his sweet romantic comedy in a small town where a simple man has to sustain himself against several odds, namely poverty. But this is not a tale of hardships and survival. This is a tale of a young man and his resourcefulness. This is a tale of errors committed to offset other errors. In short, this is a comedy that is uproarious, crazy and thoroughly enjoyable.
Ramprasad (Amol Palekar) works for Bhawani Shankar (Utpal Dutt) a man prone to superstition. He regularly visits an astrologer (Om Prakash is a tiny yet cheeky role), who instructs, or rather misleads him into functioning in certain ways as per his stars. Thus Bhawani Shankar is led to feel that he should get married again at this ripe age for the betterment of his business and family.
The run up to his meeting Kusum (Swaroop Sampat) is uproarious. One tiny event snowballs into a crisis of gargantuan proportions that Ramprasad has to control. Let's credit his multitasking capabilities, his penchant for handling trouble, his glibtalking techniques and his clever personality for ultimately coming up trumps. For, if it had not been for his resoursefulness, Kusum would have got married to the lecherous estate manager. And if not him, then the loudmouth Kali Shankar who uses cusswords at every instant. With a nail biting climax, it is after all Ramprasad's top game plan that gives us a sweet ending. And even after the marriage is over, he keeps us guessing as to how Bhawani Shankar will handle the truth. Well, he knows best what to do with a superstitious soul!!
Amol Palekar is best suited for this role. He looks unassuming for he is supposed to look so. No handsome hunk for Mukherjee's Ramprasad. He needs to dress in original khadi, carry a cloth jhola, do plenty of running around to cover goof-ups, be there when it is most important and romance subtly. No singing and dancing around trees, just quiet words of assurance to the damsel in distress that he will be there to save her from extremities. I love the scenes where he plays to the tune of Bhawani Shankar as well as sticks to his own formulas. Love his expressions when his boss gives his those meagre increments. Love him when he asks Kusi to playact a bit more. She is scared stiff but she knows that he will be there in the nick of time. Love his face as he regales in Kusi's declaration of love as she sings Humein raaston ki zaroorat nahin hain (Asha Bhonsle's voice is like honey). Last but not the least I love the penultimate scene where he tries to pull off a emotional blackmail before Bhawani Shankar. He knows that his boss is almost falling in the trap. For, Ramprasad's ploys are too perfect to evade!
Swaroop Sampat is a pretty inclusion in the film. I cannot say she is as good an actor as Vidya Sinha or Bindiya Goswami. But in her role, she does what is required. She looks lovely in the song Mere angnaa aaye re (RD Burman's music is fantastic). Well, that's what she is required to do. Wish she was more expressive...
The supporting cast is able. But I really thought that Dina Pathak and Kiran Vairale were not exploited to the fullest. They are capable of so much more. I liked the song Mere chhere mein chhupa very much. It is soft, sensitive and extremely beautiful in its imagery. Ek baath suni hain is fun, frolic and animated.
The other day a friend texted me about a unique quality that Shotgun Sinha has. He can speak fluent Bengali. What an awesome revelation it was. Seriously, this actor was so underestimated throughout. His roles were so written that he only got to holler away or fight. In this film you get to see Shatrughan Sinha in an absolutely different light. He revers brave women of historic ages but he is all jelly when  he sees Kusum and harbours romantic thoughts about her. He stops using fouls words and transforms himself into a Romeo. A transition so deftly and funnily depicted by Mukherjee. Kali Shankar is a loud character prone to using expletives, but he is also so lovable, rib-tickling and full of fun. Really think, Sinha should have added more such work to his repertoire.
One special word for Rahi Masoom Raza, the master who penned the brilliant dialogues. I won't waste space giving examples here. His work is best seen in the film. Keep your ears open and you'll notice fireworks...
And now the master performer called Utpal Dutt... He's immaculate, spot on, bold, experimentative, goofy, robust and sheer magic. Do I need to say anything more?


  1. I am not much of a Shatrughan Sinha fan, so when I heard this film had him in it, I hadn't been too pleased - but what a pleasant surprise! He was fabulous in this, what with looking at Kusi and imagining all those veeraanganas! :-)) Hilarious. And I simply love all these delightful Mukherjee flicks of the 70's - all of them are classics. Thank you for reminding me of this one! Now I want to see it again.

  2. @Dustedoff: Yes, he was a pleasant surprise in this one. A short role but a marvellous one. I can see these films again and again :)

  3. Two days later and there you go again and look at me I was supposed to do my next post today and I am still struggling to finish with my comments.Unlike you I have given up my career as a journalist; well I will seek solace in the fact that I am a golden oldy so I am allowed to be slow.
    Yes Naram Garam was a fun film. This I think was Swaroop Sampat's first film. What I did not like was Farida Jalal dubbing for Swaroop Sampat.Though Farida is a wonderful actress it would have been better if Swaroop's voice was retained. Nothing can be better than retaining an actor's own voice.

  4. @Shilpi: Are you serious? Farida Jalal dubbed for Sampat. My my you are a storehouse of inside information!!! Thanks for enlightening me :)

  5. Just as one can watch a loved film again and again, I can watch Utpal Dutt doing the same thing over and over again :)

    The films of Hrishikesh had such a smooth kind of comedy (I mean no slapstick).
    The scenes of Padmini's johar were hilarious, and probably the only likeable film of Shatrughan.

    What was a revelation was Amol Palekar as he too does almost the same thing (and yet its refreshing)in his films, but here as a complete chamcha for the sake of survival, even resorting to white lies, I think he fitted the role like a glove.

    Shilpi, that's quite a revelation too!!
    Why would they dub Swaroop's voice? Wasn't it good enough?

  6. @Pacifist: Yes, I can watch Utpal Dutt doing the same thing again and again because he was toooo funny.
    I have the same question for Shilpi!

  7. Off Topic:
    I managed to find a subtitled version of deya neya, and thought of leaving a link here so all those who want to see it may, and enjoy it as much as I did.
    Uttam Kumar is sooooo attractive!!!!!


  8. I must go and see this film again. I remember it only vaguely. But you are right, all the Hrishikesh Mukherjee films can be seen again and again.

    One of the things I also love about his films is the names he gives his characters. They add so much humour and texture to the films as well.

  9. @Pacifist: Let me thank you on everyone's behalf :)

  10. @Banno: Yess. And they are stories of simple people. But it's the treatment that makes them so much more enjoyable :)

  11. Oh I had forgotten this film! Thanks for reminding me..I must see it again. I am a great fan of Utpal Dutt, he may well be playing the same charactter multiple times, but I don't care. His timing, his expressions, even the manic look in his eyes - all priceless :)

  12. @Sujamusic: Hello and welcome. And, I totally second your opinion. Utpal Dutt is timeless :)

  13. This one is good. They even retain their names from 'Golmaal' :)

  14. @Roshmi: Oh is that so? I didn't notice so much!!! Thanks for the trivia :)

  15. Is there any eng.subtitled video in the web? Or English srt file? If not naram garam, then kissi ke na kehna at least. I just love Hrishikesh-ji's films, but we here in Kazakhstan neither understand Hindi nor speak it.