A comedy of errors which continues to have repeat value, decades since it first hit screens. We are talking about Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s laugh riot Chupke Chupke.
For someone growing up in the 80’s, the one reason why I always sat put in front of the TV screen each time Doordarshan played the film (which was often) was to laugh along with my two favorite characters, those of Om Prakash and Keshto Mukherjee. Their straight faced expressions and dialogues could make the most cynical crack up with laughter.
Yes I know, the film wasn’t just about these two, we had our Jai-Veeru together once again, but in a totally different setting and a far cry from their characters in Sholay, which had released the same year.
Playing two professors who have a ‘problem’ to solve, that is far more complicated than the lessons taught in the class room. So meet Botany professor Parimal Tripathi (Dharamendra), who decides to play a tick on his wife’s brother-in-law Raghav (Om Prakash). Sulkeha hold’s her ‘jijaji’ in high esteem, much to her husband’s irritation, who decides to impersonate as Raghav’s driver, Wahan Chalak Pyaare Mohan. A simple joke turns into a series of misadventures, when he asks his best buddy Sukumar, a professor of Literature (Amitabh Bachchan) to impersonate as him, ie Parimal.
Dharamendra, known for his action avatar, showcased his flair for comedy. As he mouths shudh hindi with his barrage of questions related to ‘angrezi’ to impress, rather mock Raghav, a purist when it comes to language. The Hindi-English contest comes with witty one liners, you can’t help but laugh as the helpless Raghav says “yeh driver nahi kissi film ka hero lagta hai”. But wait a minute, is this driver hitting on his much married sister-in-law Sulkeha, who is also privy to this drama? The mishaps in the fast paced narrative keep you asking for more.
Hrishikesh Mukherjee was a masterclass when it came to cinema. His characters were simple, middle class and everyday Joes. An adaptation of the Bengali film Chhadmabeshi. A funny anecdote from the film’s set was that the director often carried a stick with him on set so that no one could do anything ‘left or right’, without his approval and was known to not share the upcoming scenes till the last moment, keeping his crew guessing.
Both Dharamendra and Amitabh Bachchan admit “Hrishi da was a headmaster, but the kind who only honed your skills and added to our craft”.
This day (April 11), 44 years ago was when Chupke Chupke hit screens, and for those who may have missed it – Why don’t you catch it? It’s totally worth your while!