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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Comedy - in cinema, and on television

Comedy - as a genre - is far more difficult to execute in films or on television. Seldom does one come across quality comedies, and that's true for Bollywood or the world of Hindi Cinema too, which churns out comedies at the drop of a hat. Most of our comedy movies are crass, sub-standard and vulgar. It is a sad but true admission.
However, even in Hindi films, we have had some very good comic offerings in the past and the not so recent past. Here's looking at some of the grand comedies that I have enjoyed over the years, and only few ride the 'subtle humour' horse; some of these do make use of coarse and slapstick humour and some even walk the thin line between comedy & vulgarity. However, it is a fact that I would like to recommend these to all viewers who are interested in Hindi films and/or comedies:

Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958) 
Padosan (1968)
Golmaal (1979) 
Chupke Chupke (1975) 
Katha (1983) 
Angoor (1982) 
Chhoti Si Baat (1975)
Chachi 420 (1998) 
Chameli Ki Shaadi (1986) 

Hera Pheri (2000)

Half Ticket (1962) 

Shaukeen (1981) 
Andaz Apna Apna (1994) 
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983) 
Munnabhai M.B.B.S. (2003) 

Masti (2004)
Kya Kool Hain Hum (2005) 

Mr Ya Miss (2005)
Hero No. 1 (1997)
Chashme Buddoor (1981) 

Bhuvan Shome (1969)
Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006)
Isi Ka Naam Zindagi (1992)
Duplicate (1998)
O Darling, Yeh Hai India! (1995) 

Chaalbaaz (1989) 
Manoranjan (1974)

And who can forget the silent comedy Pushpak (1988) which, though not a Bollywood product, created ripples - of laughter - all over the nation and is a favorite of comedy-lovers!

And when it comes to comedy series or sitcoms on television, the popular fare in Hindi is largely banal. But even before the inception of satellite or cable television in India, we had the good fortune of having some excellent comedy series like 'Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi', 'Dekh Bhai Dekh', and 'Idhar Udhar'. Later came some brilliant sitcoms like 'Zabaan Sambhalke', 'Mungerilaal Ke Haseen Sapne', 'Shreeman Shreemati', 'Shubh Mangal Saavdhan', 'Office Office' and 'Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai'

However, on Indian television, what has made a far greater impact in recent times are the advertisements that do become instant successes, regardless of the products or the services promoted, using the comedy genre subtly and skilfully. And the ad, or the series of ads, that come to my mind using the unique comical excesses of just one man: Aamir Khan in his multiple makeovers, using multiple regional catch-phrases, for Coca Cola.


abhishek said...

I am too fond of comedy movies, and especially Bollywood comedies. I have to say that these days comedies are either crass or of poor quality, unlike the yesteryear situational comedies.
I love all the titles that you have listed, and particularly like ANGOOR, PADOSAN, CHACHI 420, KATHA, ANDAZ APNA APNA and HERA PHERI.

mehul said...

The fact that all those yesteryear films were really good comedies is reasserted by the increasing demand for the remakes of the same.
The latest release 'Chashme Baddoor' (that has opened in theaters today) is not a quality remake of its namesake but it pays handsome tribute to the old film (in the typical David Dhawan style though). In one of the scenes, on a close scrutiny, one can even catch a glimpse of the DVD case of 'Angoor', Gulzar's comedy classic. Shows what still inspires today's filmmakers.
Sadly, today's comedies fail to reach the qualitative height of those films in spite of being technically several notches above.