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Premiere: Love in time of comedy

April 14, 2013

One hasn’t heard reverberations of laughter ripple through the cinema since, well, since as long as memory serves. But this David Dhawan brand of comedy, enlivened by having Ali Zafar in the lead role, was enough to encourage the audience to take off their thinking caps and let humour go straight to their heads. Chashme Baddoor delivers a barrel full of laughs, admittedly often induced by ribald and crass humour; how else do you explain the line: “love sees no age, only courage, bondage and cleavage”? But it works. This love story may not deliver Romeo to the heights of artistic romance but it prompts the chuckles regardless.

Charted after the 1981 Farooque Shaikh and Deepti Naval classic, this one comes with a slight spelling (that was Buddoor, this is Baddoor) and huge tenor difference. The difference, in fact, is as deliberate as a change of gender. The new CB does not aim to reproduce the classic but in fact reinvents a life of it’s own, suitable to the 21st century foxes. Cheap pun intended.

CB takes us to Goa, where debutant Taapsee Pannu (annoyingly chirpy Seema) has run off to escape her military dad’s forcible match-making. She lands at her uncle (Anupam Kher in a double role) and grand mother’s house and deals with the unwanted attentions of Omi (Divyendu Sharma) and Jai (Siddharth). The frivolous camaraderie (‘bromance’ for those who are with it) between Omi and Jai more than makes up for Taapsee’s singular expression. And then enters Sid the serious, sober and simplistic Ali Zafar. He can’t romance, he can’t flex muscle in his relationship with Seema but what he can do is stand up to the man Seema’s father has chosen for her.

“You must have been a dhol in your previous life,” Sid tells the much larger Pratap when they almost collide on the main road. “Baja kay ja raha hoon!” he added.

Ali Zafar is charming on screen. Due to the burlesque tone of the film he too borrows an exaggerated body language from Dev Anand and Shammi Kapoor, and it works. His dance moves certainly land him centrestage (he has come a long way since Madhubala in Mere Brother ki Dulhan) and he can even pack a few punches effectively. He certainly is stepping into Bollywood as the new chocolate-boy hero but one wonders if this is what Zafar is willing to settle for. David Dhawan films bring an actor attention not acclaim and that serves in Ali’s advantage as far as box office popularity goes; CB did beyond expectations in the opening weekend. But, one wonders, can he diversify and be versatile enough to prove himself a veritable actor? We certainly hope so.

The story, like the original, revolves around three friends and the twist that develops when Sid falls in love with Seema, the girl they have both tried to unsuccessfully woo. And along with Ali Zafar, each and every character (except for the unfortunate choice of heroine) helps deliver this comedy straight to the funny bone. Rishi Kapoor and Lilette Dubey as Mr Joseph and Miss Josephine, Anupam Kher in the double role and of course, Omi and Jai who are effortlessly comic. Mirthful and laced with innuendos (even songs) from Bollywood’s popular past, CB takes you on a roller coaster of happiness that may skim the surface of silly but rarely dips into the realm of seriously offensive. Or at least that’s what we feel in Pakistan.

Critics in India, offended by the brash tone of the remake, have been disagreeing vehemently. Most reviews across the border have marked David Dhawan’s Chashme Baddoor a sacrilegious remake of a gentle and tender love story. Sai Panrajpaee’s original CB was just that in it’s time of story telling — gentle and tender — but Dhawan’s version caters to a younger, more bindaas audience. His genre of cinema brings you films like Partner, Hero No. 1, Coolie No. 1, etc. It’s unfair to walk into a David Dhawan film and expect the delicate nuances of a Hrishikesh Mukherjee tale. It’s unfair to try and connect the dots of everything you watch.

Music, magic, masti

Light-hearted and energetic, the CB soundtrack may not be what classics are made of but it does keep one entertained. It’s always a pleasure to hear Ali Zafar sing; his vocals on the catchy Dhichkyaoon Doom Doom and Early Morning do bear a certain Kishore-ism to them. Singing is still what Ali does best, though he has sharpened his dance moves since MBKD. These moves come to life in the opening song, Ishq Mohalla, which sets the tone for the rest of the soundtrack: it’s to be enjoyed for the moment and not to be taken seriously.

CB also ends with a song that defines the ethos of the story. Har Ek Friend Kameena Hota Hai cautions what to expect from friends. And since it’s a pun on a popular advertisement, it clearly alerts the audience on the way the film puns the original. Sonu Nigam’s vocals on this track are a delight. The one rock-track, Andha Ghora Race Mein Dauda, despite being a bit contrived, appeals to the rockers in the audience.

CB is decent but music directors Sajid-Wajid fall short of creating a super-hit soundtrack. This is no Partner and one has seen better, more memorable work from them. That said, CB is still an enjoyable film till interest lasts.