The minute David Dhawan’s “Chashme Buddoor” started rolling I wanted to get up and run for cover, to save myself from the landmine of cheap jokes gagged, clichés and over-the-top ham acting. It’s not that there weren’t any warnings or signs. I had that nag of a bad feeling that this one’s going to make Sai Paranjpye (the maker of the original masterpiece, “Chashme Buddoor”) cry, inconsolably. After watching the excruciatingly painful remake, Sai must’ve wept buckets. That said, I will not deny that a part of me is a David Dhawan cinema fan – stupid, crazy, nasty. His kind of films are, in film critic Anupama Chopra words, “disposable entertainment.” His slapstick suits the likes of Govinda and Sanjay Dutt and Chunkey Pandey and Kader Khan and Johnny Lever. That said, his “Chashme Baddoor” does not even come close to the fine art of subtle humour and simplicity Paranjpye delivered in 1981.
Ravi Basvani and Rakesh Bedi as the two beg, borrow steal blokes scheming for shikar and one cigarette puff, the masters in economics Farooq Sheikh in his simple kurta pyjama stumped by Deepti Naval’s memorable Miss Chamko act, Saeed Jaffrey as the pan munching Lallan Miyan – ah, why did Dhawan even dream of recreating this priceless piece of cinematic history. Getting on board three writers, Renuka Kunzru and Farhad-Sajid, seasoned actors like Anupam Kher, Lillette Dubey and a tattooed Rishi Kapoor also didn’t help. Ali Zafar, Tapsi Pannu and Siddharth are hopeless. The only saving element is Divyendu Sharma who has some really great PJ of shers up his sleeve.
In fact, Sajid Khan’s “Himmatwala” that released last week is a notch better than “Chashme Baddoor.” At least it’s a remake of a B-Grade film and comfortably lives up to its B-Grade reputation with its enslaved gaon-wallahs, feudal lord, a very melodramatic mother (Zareena Wahab is super emotional compared to the wooden Waheeda Rahman), an arrogant spoilt heroine and a macho hero with a waxed to the last follicle steel of a chest. Khan gets to live his boy fantasy of snatching the tiger scene from Natwarlal, by recreating characters of Amjad Khan and Kader Khan and whip-lashing Sridevi. The 1980s sure were great: everything could be sorted with a punch or a tight slap. In case that fails, the temple bells ring and Ma Sherawali always comes to rescue.