In honour of April Fools’ Day, we bring you four ingenious and funny cons and pranks from Bollywood films that made for entertaining viewing.
Selling the Taj Mahal in Bunty Aur Babli (2005)
Bunty Aur Babli is filled with numerous clever cons, but perhaps one of the funniest is when the titular con artists (and now a married couple) decide to hoodwink the world’s seventh richest man (as one newspaper dubs him) into thinking he can buy the Taj Mahal as a gift for his bride. This involves Babli impersonating the local politician Phoolsakhi, while the actual Phoolsakhi is distracted by a bunch of faux protestors outside her house. Bunty is the proprietor of the Taj; he brings the man, Harry Epstein, to meet Babli/Phoolsakhi, who declares she cannot sell the Taj, but that Epstein can, as she so hilariously puts it, ‘kiraaye pe lease it’. He hands over a cheque and cash, Bunty and Babli pay off the people they hired for the con job and then they run off. When Epstein’s wedding party tries to enter the Taj premises, the locals stop them, bursting into raucous laughter when they realise that he has been conned by Bunty-Babli.
The Mahabharat in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983)
The climax of Kundan Shah’s Marx Brothers-inspired comic caper film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro is set at a performance of the Mahabharat. The lead-up to the lengthy scene is too complex to explain, but involves two different groups of people trying to lay their hands on a corpse. The corpse (a man) is dressed in a saree and sent on stage as Draupadi. Meanwhile, the protagonists each replace actors in the play (who are themselves falling over with drowsy boredom while acting), trying to prevent it from being revealed that Draupadi is a corpse in a saree. This being the scene of Draupadi’s disrobing, this is a very real danger. They also try to prevent the corpse falling into the wrong hands. As more and more of the film’s characters get onstage, the dialogues get mixed up, the real stage actors are bewildered, and the actor playing the blind Dhritarashtra keeps saying plaintively, ‘Yeh sab kya ho raha hai?!’
Uday Bhai’s fake movie in Welcome (2007)
If you haven’t yet seen Anees Bazmee’s bizarre comedy Welcome, you haven’t missed much. But this scene is gold and can be watched in isolation. Uday Bhai (Nana Patekar) is a gangster nursing secret movie star ambitions. His sister (Katrina Kaif) and her boyfriend (Akshay Kumar) exploit this by conning him into thinking he’s landed a big movie. Uday Bhai wants to be a hero so badly that he walks right into the trap. He swallows his pride and agrees to be pushed around by the director who makes him sell vegetables and ride horses. It’s delightful to watch a dreaded gangster make a fool of himself!
Bachchan the botany professor in Chupke Chupke (1975)
Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Chupke Chupke is premised on a giant prank. Dr Parimal Tripathi (Dharmendra) is a botany professor who tries to outwit his sharp brother-in-law (Om Prakash) by pretending to be his chauffeur. It’s great fun to see Parimal become Pyaare Mohan and trouble his snooty jeeja-ji. At one point in this elaborate prank, Parimal’s best friend, played by Amitabh Bachchan, has to pretend to be Parimal. The only hitch is that unlike Parimal, he is an English professor, and miserable at fooling people. In one of the film’s most hilarious scenes, Bachchan has to teach Vasudha (Jaya Bachchan) before her botany exam. She keeps asking him about corolla and he mistakes it for karela.