Bollywood’s tryst with comedy has unfortunately been mostly in the form of senseless slapstick, mind-numbing buffoonery and/or over-exaggerated spoofs on specific communities (especially Sindhis, Bengalis and Parsis). Rare is the Hindi film that uses wit, satire and understated humour to tickle the funny bone of the viewer. Thankfully, there have been some directors who have made truly funny films. Here are the 10 most memorable ones. If you want to go to heaven without dying, watch these films. You’ll die of laughter, we promise!
Half Ticket, 1962 (Dir: Kalidas, Cast: Kishore Kumar, Madhubala, Pran). Madhubala’s beauty coupled with the chemistry she shares with Kishore Kumar could well have turned this movie into a romance. But the maverick Kumar regales audiences with his superbly timed expressions, naughty antics and comic genius. The film’s cute, innocent and funny in equal measures. Don’t miss it.
Chupke Chupke, 1975 (Dir: Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Cast: Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Om Prakash, Sharmila Tagore, Asrani, Jaya Bhaduri). Hilarious and unrelenting on the laughter quotient to the last reel, Chupke Chupke has a stellar cast and brings out the dilemma all of us face in trying to understand angrezi (English). Dharmendra as Parimal Tripathi and thespian Om Prakash in the role of Jijaji are natural. Made by the inimitable Hrishikesh Mukherjee, it must form a part of the course syllabus of acting students to learn the art of “reacting”, not just acting.
Golmaal, 1979 (Dir: Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Cast: Amol Palekar, Utpal Dutt, Bindiya Goswami). Palekar’s deadpan face is the perfect foil for Dutt’s animated expressions. An evenly-paced satire on the average middle-class mentality, the film uses chaste Hindi in sequences and creates a laugh-riot. Watch Palekar as he shams his way through by telling Dutt: “Kurta toh shareer ke uparardh ki lajja nivaran ke liye hota hai (A kurta is meant to cover the modesty of the upper half of the body).” You will laugh so much, you’ll have tears in your eyes.
Chashme Buddoor, 1981 (Dir: Sai Paranjpe, Cast: Farooq Shaikh, Dipti Naval, Rakesh Bedi, Ravi Baswani). One of the earliest films set in New Delhi (and also among the first ones, if not the first, to have a parody of Bollywood’s popular songs), Chashme Buddoor is tongue in cheek and portrays the lives, aspirations, dreams and compulsions of college students to perfection. It’s cute and rollickingly funny.
Angoor, 1982 (Dir: Gulzar, Cast: Sanjeev Kumar, Deven Verma, Moushumi Chatterjee, Aruna Irani). Based on Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors,Angoor is transported to the Indian milieu as a tale of two identical pairs of master-servant. Apart from the fact that it stars arguably the most gifted actor of Hindi cinema, Sanjeev Kumar, in the protagonist’s role (who performs with effortless beauty, as always), it has situations and dialogues that seem to have jumped out of our lives and on to the big screen. No matter how many times you have watched it, you will still squeal with delight each time.
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, 1983 (Dir: Kundan Shah, Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Ravi Baswani, Om Puri, Satish Shah). If you’ve wondered what doubling over with laughter means, watch this film. Funny, irreverent, clownish, the sequence of the staging of the Mahabharata has to be watched to understand how comedy can be found in the most unexpected places. It sparkles!
Khosla Ka Ghosla, 2006 (Dir: Dibakar Banerjee, Cast: Vinay Pathak, Ranvir Shorey, Boman Irani, Anupam Kher). The Pathak- Shorey pair has become synonymous with outstanding comedy in contemporary Bollywood; this film underlines it farther. Taking the rampant practice of landgrabbing as its pivot and then turning it around on its head, the film is a slice-of-life comedy with lots of twists and turns that keep you consistently engaged.
Bheja Fry, 2007 (Dir: Sagar Ballary, Cast: Vinay Pathak, Rajat Kapoor, Ranvir Shorey, Milind Soman). A small-budget film, Bheja Fry gave Indian cinema a new Funnyman: Vinay Pathak. He single-handedly carries the film on his shoulders with his depiction of a simpleton from the Hindi heartland in Mumbai. His hairstyle, rustic mannerisms, and even his typical UP-style pouch, are just the things you’d find in say, Muzaffarnagar. Hilarious and exceptionally well written.
3 Idiots, 2009 (Dir: Rajkumar Hirani, Cast: Aamir Khan, R. Madhavan, Sharman Joshi, Kareena Kapoor, Boman Irani). What can be better than pure entertainment that also delivers a message? 3 Idiots scores high on the film-with-a-message scale. The funny college capers, the ridiculous pranks and the witty dialogues combine with top-class acting to bring you a fun film that makes you laugh and cry at the same time. A tad too long, it nonetheless shows what a strong screenplay can do to elevate a story.
Phas Gaye Re Obama, 2010 (Dir: Subhash Kapoor, Cast: Rajat Kapoor, Sanjay Mishra, Neha Dhupia, Manu Rishi). This movie uses the plank of global recession and surprisingly brings it to the hinterlands of India using a strong plot, some memorable dialogues and fresh acting talent. Mishra and Rishi will have you rib-tickled throughout with their naivete, dumbness and endearing qualities. They are fashioned perfectly after the local Dadas of the Hindi belt. Do watch it.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Khoobsurat, Naram Garam, Rang Birangi, Munnabhai MBBS, Hera Pheri, Padosan…there are many more.
Why don’t you add to our list? Tell us about your favourite comedy film from Bollywood
Bollywood’s Greatest Comedy Movies – an article by Shilpa Gupta