May Issue 2013
A good comedy film can be the perfect antidote to a bad day. You get to laugh at life’s absurdities and view the world in a different way. But Chashme Badoor,touted as a rom-com film, fails to accomplish any of these.
Even judging by the standards of the mindless comedy genre that seems to be the staple of Bollywood, David Dhawan’s remake of the 1981 flick of the same name fails pretty badly. With lazy writing, barely any semblance of a storyline and characters that are as complex as balloon animals, it makes you wonder about Dhawan’s own mental capacity.
The story, or what little there is of it, revolves around two friends, Jai (Siddharth) and Omi (Divyendu Sharma), who are lusting after women. Both of them catch the eye of the new girl on the block, Neha (Tapsee Pannu), who predictably falls for their more sensible friend, Sid (Ali Zafar). Jai and Omi then proceed to spend the rest of the movie trying to thwart Sid’s chances of getting the girl. There is also a B-story involving Rishi Kapoor and Lillete Dubey falling in love, but it is equally insipid and adds nothing to the main story. Comedies can work well with a minimalist plot, provided the script is sharp and the dialogues are witty. Unfortunately, what we get instead are cringe-inducing puns and the most obvious in-your-face jokes possible. In an effort to insult the audience’s intelligence even further, almost every joke is immediately followed by a character spelling it out, just in case you missed it the first time. All this is in addition to the staple slapstick Bollywood humour of people getting slapped around for no reason, complete with dramatic sound effects.
Not a single scene contributes towards developing any of the characters beyond stereotypical caricatures — the scantily-clad girl with a heart of gold and zero brains, the oversexed sidekicks whose comedic repertoires are filled with fart jokes, the uptight father who gets in the way of true love. There is no meaningful conversation between either the friends or the budding lovers, which makes it hard to buy into any of the relationships at all.
Given the material the actors had to work with, one can’t really blame them for their mediocre performances. Zafar is relatively tolerable because his performance is not quite as high-pitched and farcical as the others. Debuting actress Pannu is irritating, but this may be in large part due to the fact that she spends most of the film mindlessly saying, “Dam hai boss” in response to everything any other character says to her.
There are other things which are inherently wrong with the film. Why, for instance, are the guys’ attempts at hooking as many girls as possible seen as something lovable and heroic, while the girl’s even alleged acceptance of their sexual advances portrayed as something abhorrent? This is, in fact, the main contradiction of the film. The lovers break apart because Jai is convinced by his friends that Neha’s character must be weak because she let them flirt with her. But with a film which is filled with crass jokes and raunchy humour, sexism and objectification of women should not come as a surprise.
Nudrat Kamal teaches comparative literature at university level, and writes on literature, film and culture.