Kathalikka Neramillai (1964) Tamil, and Chasme Buddoor (1981) Hindi, are two of the best comedy movies made in hundred odd years of movie making in India. Period. These movies are not just contemporary. After 4 decades for CB and 57 years of KN they would still make you laugh as much as you laughed when you first watched them.
Kathalikka Neramillai – 1964.
Kathalikka Neramillai (No Time for Romance/Love) was released in 1964. The director of the film Sridhar and the story writer Chitralaya Gopu were school buddies. They used to meet in Marina beach every day and over many days of discussion decided to make a comedy movie. Sridhar was making only tearjerkers till that time, which made you cry for three hours drenching the seat you sat on, and couple of chairs nearby. They made one comedy film, and what a film they made.
This was the first film to be made in Eastmancolour in Tamil and the first scene of the film was shot in Marina beach. This was the Marina we came to know as the second longest beach in the world after Miami. The background had all the historic buildings, the University of Madras, the Presidency College etc. Oh yes, it was much before Marina beach was partly converted into graveyard and memorials for Tamilnadu chief ministers.
The story is easily told. An arrogant estate owner, his aspiring movie maker son, his two daughters and their love interests. After lot of commotion, conflict of interest, excellent songs, an underlying comedy throughout, all ends well after three hours.
What makes the movie so special is, two of the finest comedy actors of Tamil films, Balaiah (father) and Nagesh (son) anchor the film. Before Prabhu Deva and Kamal Hassan, Nagesh was perhaps the best dancer in the Tamil film industry. In this movie, Nagesh tries hard to get money from his rich dad who doesn’t believe his son or the movie he is trying to make. I was surprised to see even in those days people said, “We don’t watch Tamil Films.” Nagesh takes a dig at film making throughout the movie. This is the dialogue that happens between the sisters and the brother. He is trying to portrait that he is a serious film maker and doesn’t have time even for the family.
Balaiah plays the role of the rich estate owner father. His greatest strength is he can emote innocence, arrogance, disgust, despair and anger all in a matter of seconds and in one scene. In this scene both father and son try to woo the guest who claims that he is a multi millionaire, father for business and the son for financing his movie. You can watch all the characteristics of Baliah’s acting I mentioned above in this scene.
The two love interests are friends. One of them works in the estate and falls in love with his employer’s daughter. When he realizes that his boss may not approve his daughter getting married to a pauper, he tells him that he is the son of a multi millionaire and calls his friend from Madras to play the role of the ‘rich man’ father. As expected his friend is the love interest of the other daughter which he finds out only when enters the house as a rich old man which leads to more commotion. At last he reveals his identity to his lover in the title song, ‘Kathalikka Neramillai.’ The song had some funny lyrics as well. The old man woos his lover saying if you marry an old man, mother in law won’t torture you, nor you need to worry about a father in law.
The film still remains as one of the most popular comedy films in Tamil and my personal favourite. It is told that the movie became an instant hit, as directors chose fresh faces to play the hero & heroine roles. The comedy scenes are well made with lovely dialogues. Double entendre had not made its entry into movie industry yet. So it is one of the movies one could watch with family. After watching the movie many times, I could not find anything wrong with the movie except one song which kind of expresses a MCP attitude.
And btw, the movie had Rachna’s favourite Tamil Song, ‘Viswanathan Velai Vendum – Viswanathan give me a job.’
Kathalikka Neramillai is a complete comedy film. Even after fifty odd years, I don’t think any Tamil comedy film comes even close to this classic movie.
Chasme Buddoor – 1981.
Chasme Buddoor came in the golden era of Hindi Films (Golden Era definition as coined by JK and yours truly – late seventies to mid eighties). This is comedy is at it’s purest form, everyone played a comic role with expressions or dialogues or plain acting. Again just like Kathalikka Neramillai, this movie did not feature mega stars.
Three friends, bachelors, share a flat and cigarettes in Delhi. One fine day, one of the three sees a stunning woman from the terrace. He calls out the other friends to come and see the pretty woman. The second rushes to the terrace and gets equally smitten. The third, the hero refuses to join the fun. The two decide to woo the woman and agrees, whoever draws queen from the deck of cards will have the first right to chase. The winner says he would woo her with his intelligence and wisdom and would even give up his nasty smoking habit for the sake of love. The second one disagrees and says he would not sacrifice any such thing, would declare ‘I smoke and I occasionally drink beer. She could take it or leave it.’ The first one retorts, “Even the introduction has not happened, here he is, talking about divorce.”
Well the first guy (played by Rakesh Bedi) knocks the girl’s (Deepti Naval) door who assumes that he is the plumber who she called for to attend to leak in bathroom sink. She chides him for not bringing the tools for repair. He runs away, whiles away some time in the park, comes back and reports that he had an excellent introduction and they even sang a duet a la Salim and Anarkali. His version of the story is played in flashback with song et al.
So, the second one (played by Ravi Baswani) from the trio goes and introduces himself to Deepti Naval as leading Hindi film producer’s younger brother and had come to Delhi from Bombay on talent scouting. Naval says she has no interest in films, however her brother is interested and introduces him. The elder brother says he wants to play only the role of a villain and egged on by his sister shows his talent for fight, and beats the guy no 2 black and blue. He goes to watch a movie and returns heavily bandaged. His flashback is hilarious. His version is, the heroine shows immediate interest in acting as well as him and they sang a duet. When they were dancing the duet, some ruffians pass comments on her and he goes to fight with them, the wounds and bandage are the result of that fight. This duet is one of the best scenes one can see in a Hindi movie. Ravi Baswani and Deepti Naval play the duet from some of the famous Hindi film songs – a treat to watch.
Both ask the third one to make an attempt. But the hero (Played by Farooq Sheikh) refuses saying he doesn’t want to be a competition to them. In a few days time, the heroine arrives at their flat to give a demo for a washing powder. The hero who just applied foam on his face for a shave, asks his friends to see who is at the door. When they see though the peephole of the door, that it is the girl who rejected them, they flee from the flat. As the bell keeps ringing, the hero with face full foam, opens the door and is stunned by girl standing outside. He tells her that there is no woman in the house. The heroine says it is OK, she only wants to give a demo for a washing powder called ‘Chamko’ and she has finished demonstration in 19 houses and 20th demo will complete her day’s work. Hero asks her to write in the register that she has given the demo. She refuses saying, she cannot cheat the company that pays her. As she turns back, the hero calls her, “Miss Chamko, you can give the demo.”
She comes in, the hero hides the nude portrait hung by his friend, brings a bucket of water for the demo. As they wait for the detergent powder to take effect, he plays a song from the tape recorder and them song ‘hum tum ek kamre mein bandh hai,’ ‘You and I, we are locked in a room’ blares out. The hero rushes and keeps the door open
This ten minute scene is the ‘best boy meets girl’ sequence ever filmed by Bollywood and perhaps one of the best in world cinema. You don’t even need to know the language to appreciate the humour and poetry exhibited in the scene. The hero is shy of talking to a woman, she exhibits confidence and is in control of the situation. Amazing acting.
And so, they fall in love. They sit in a park and make fun of songs that come in movies. They wonder how a song, with 40 piece orchestra is played when no one is around in a ten kilometer radius. And then they promptly sing one.
After some romantic scenes, a misunderstanding, few minutes of sorrow, a lousy kidnap and rescue attempt and last minute police arrival at the scene, they reunite and all ends well. Another crowning jewel for the movie is Saeed Jaffrey who plays the role of a Pan Shop owner. His sweet nature, his attempts to recover dues from the trio and his dialogues completes this incredible movie.
Deepti Naval and Farooq Sheikh have done few movies together, Katha and Kissi se na kehna readily come to mind. But Chasme Buddoor, meaning ward off the evil eye – is easily the best they have acted together. This is also the best movie of director, Sai Paranjpye.
Both Kathalikka Neramillai and Chasme Buddoor are available in YouTube. The prints in YouTube are better than the DVDs I have. I am not sure if they are available in any of the streaming platforms. Don’t miss watching them especially when you have few more days to kill in this lockdown. As I said, Kathalikka Neramillai and Chasme Buddoor are the two best comedy films you would get to see.
I wish both the movies are preserved in national film archives in high definition. These are the movies I would like to keep in my blue-ray collection.