REVIEW: ‘Chashme Buddoor’ – Old Is Gold

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There are a few films from the 1980s that saved the decade in Indian cinema from complete ignominy. ‘Chashme Buddoor’, written and directed by Sai Paranjpye, was one such film.

Thirty three years after it first released in 1981, the movie is back in select screens for a limited run. The print has been painstakingly and immaculately digitally restored to provide an enriching cinema experience. You will be smiling and laughing throughout the 150 minutes of madness.

A recap for those who may have forgotten: this romcom and bromance centres around three room-mates in Delhi who pursue the same girl, with varying results. Rakesh Bedi, Farouque Sheikh and Ravi Baswani play Omi, Siddharth and Jai respectively. The three buddies are always broke and in debt to their local paan-beedi shop owner, Lallan miyaan, played by Saeed Jaffrey. During the college summer holidays, the arrival of new girl Neha (Deepti Naval) in the neighborhood makes the flirtatious Omi and Jai wager as to who will woo her first. Siddharth, the intellectual, shows no interest in the sport, but when Neha shows up at their doorstep selling Chamko washing powder, its love at first wash — for both. This turn of events does not go down well with the other two rejected suitors who come up with a plot to split Neha and Siddharth up.

Even after all these years, the humour is appealing, the gags relatable and the stories of romance and friendship as relevant as in the early 80s. Sai Paranjpye’s writing and crafting of scenes is assured and enhanced by the restoration efforts. The performances are delightful including those of Leela Mishra as Neha’s grandmother and Jaffrey. The cameo by Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha is a gem. The chemistry between the three friends is as engaging as the romance between the lovely Naval and adorable Sheikh. Baswani and Bedi show off excellent comic timing.

When I looked around the cinema hall as we watched the restored and revitalized print, each audience member had a smile pasted on his or her face, from the opening credits till the end roll. A delightful must watch.

Rating: ****