While we are all cooped up at home, waiting for the day we don't have to worry about an apocalypse, we all need a tinge of high-sugar comfort food along with non-caloric stress-busters. For some, kitten GIFs on Reddit may do the job and for others, solving gigantic 1000-piece puzzles. What we are certain of, though, are good, old-fashioned comedy movies, the perfect antidote for any and all Corona stress. And those of you who are spoilt for choice about what to watch online, here's a one-stop-shop for the best Indian comedies you can stream while sitting on your bed.
Chupke Chupke (Amazon Prime Video and Netflix)
Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Chupke Chupke is a comedy about a man pretending to be a driver and fooling his wife's brother-in-law to prove that the 'genius jijaji' is in fact no genius at all. So Dr Parimal Tripathi, a botany professor played by Dharmendra, becomes the eccentric chauffeur Pyare Mohan. To complicate matters, Parimal's friend Sukumar, played by Amitabh Bachchan, then pretends to be Parimal. There is much confusion and a lot of laughter before the jijaji, played by Om Prakash, concedes defeat.
Golmaal: Fun Unlimited (Amazon Prime Video and Netflix)
The film that defined the Rohit Shetty wacky-comedy genre is about four crooks conning their way into a blind couple's house posing as the couple's grandson. The brilliant Ajay Devgn, Paresh Rawal, and Sanjay Mishra put on a comic show around a series of mishaps and misunderstandings which later pile on as a gang comes to retrieve diamonds that they hid in a coveted wooden chest located in the couple's house.
Stree (Disney+ Hotstar and Netflix)
Set in a whimsical and eerie district of Chanderi, the townsmen are constantly in fear of getting abducted by a female spirit who looms around once a year during a religious festival. Here's a horror-comedy where beyond its humour, there's a layer of feminist treatment – the spirit only consensually abducts the men after calling their names out. Amar Kaushik's directorial debut is bolstered by Rajkummar Rao, playing a small-town ladies' tailor and Pankaj Tripathi, a specialist of the supernatural.
Satte Pe Satta (Amazon Prime Video and Netflix)
In a bid to impress Indu (Hema Malini), Ravi (Amitabh Bachchan) lies about having 6 brothers to cover up for everyone's oafish and rustic mannerisms. Bachchan here takes up a double role where he also plays an ex-convict Babu, causing the orphan brothers to get embroiled in a criminal conspiracy. Director Raj Sippy effectively combines a lovelorn, comic story with enthralling action, all elevated by Bachchan's charm.
Andaz Apna Apna (Amazon Prime Video and Netflix)
There is no better tale in comedy than a bunch of hapless slugs who hatch hare-brained schemes to get rich, and here, we see two youngsters, played by Aamir Khan and Salman Khan, on a quest to impress Raveena Bajaj, the daughter of a millionaire, who's looking for a suitor. This Rajkumar Santoshi film is a whirlwind of comedy, where these two men are willing to cross any hurdles to woo Raveena, including taking on Crime Master Gogo.
Angoor (Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ Hotstar)
Gulzar's movie, based on Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors, is another coincidental comedy where two sets of identical twins, initially separated at birth with each parent, meet again when they're adults. Sanjeev Kumar's and Deven Verma's comic performances enliven the constant on-screen irony and confusion.
Sudani From Nigeria (Netflix)
Sudani From Nigeria is a heart-warming account of Majeed (Soubin Shahir), who runs a football club in Kerala, and his bond with Samuel (Samuel Abiola Robinson), a player in the club, who is injured and hospitalised. A palate cleanser of sorts, Zakariya Mohammed's film immerses you into football and the bridled love these characters have for it.
Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (Amazon Prime Video and MX Player)
Out of the three Sharma brothers who run a garage, one despicably hates women after getting his heart broken. And naturally, madness ensues after he finds out that both his younger brothers are in love despite him warning them not to. The three brothers are all played by the real-life trio – Kishore Kumar, Ashoka Kumar and Anoop Kumar. Their on-screen chemistry, also with the gorgeous Madhubala, fuels the comic mayhem in the film.
Fukrey (Disney+ Hotstar and Netflix)
In a youthful romp where characters are called "Choocha" and "Hunny," four school-failed boys are entangled with a gangster in order to raise enough money to procure leaked exam papers. Richa Chadha, as the gangster, is devilishly funny, while Varun Sharma, as Choocha, maintains childlike naiveté. The chaos in the film is never overbearing and the humour plays on the over the top mannerisms of all characters.
Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (Netflix)
This is one of Shah Rukh Khan's most chaste and innocent performances. Smitten with Anna, the lead singer of his band, he is willing to tell any lie to impress her. Director Kundan Shah skilfully balances the comedy with maturity. The film doesn't end on the conventional note a rom-com usually does, it's moving and uplifting, not the simple happily ever after.
Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (Netflix)
Dibakar Banerjee's National Film Award-winning movie is the story of a thief who likes to rob elites just because he is good at it and amuses him. It is, at the same time, clever and light. The humour is not glaringly on-the-face. It is subtle and comes out quietly as you see Lucky (Abhay Deol) burgle, bounce and bolt. And even as Paresh Rawal takes on three roles, it is Abhay Deol's nonchalance and wit that steal the thunder.
Queen (Netflix and Voot)
Arguably one of Kangana Ranaut's career-defining performances, her role as Rani (Queen), is a character archetype of liberation and independence. As Rani chooses to travel for her honeymoon alone after being dumped by her fiancé (Rajkummar Rao), she embarks on a trip of unexpected adventure. Queen is not out-and-out funny, it's delicate and derives humour from Rani's reaction to her predicaments.
Padosan (Amazon Prime Video)
Bhola (Sunil Dutt), bewitched by his neighbour's beauty, falls in love with Bindu (Saira Banu). Taking the help of his friend, Vidyapathi (Kishore Kumar), he fakes the ability to sing to win Bindu over. With R.D. Burman's and Kishore Kumar's hypnotising music, and the gleeful humour on top of it, Padosan is a relic of Hindi cinema.
In Harihar Nagar (Disney+ Hotstar)
A Malayalam comedy classic, In Harihar Nagar chronicles a group of four friends on their quest to charm Maya, a new neighbour in their colony. The movie is an effective comedy-thriller, where the humour offsets the seriousness. As the four discover that Maya relocated to investigate the death of her brother, the antagonist ominously becomes a bane to their lives. The directing duo Siddique-Lal are known to hybridise comedy with peril and danger, and that treatment is present and compelling in this movie, too.
Hera Pheri/Ramji Rao Speaking (Amazon Prime Video/Disney+ Hotstar)
An additional Siddique-Lal film, the predecessor to Hera Pheri, Ramji Rao Speaking is another comedy that has earned its title of being a classic. Both films follow the story of three men seduced by the prospect of being rich and as a result, con the grandfather of an abducted girl, entering a world of havoc. Priyadarshan, with a lot of proficiency, adopted the Malayalam film for Hindi cinema and carved a niche for slapstick comedies throughout the country.
A blind pianist (Ayushmann Khurrana) is caught in a series of crimes after witnessing the murder of an actor. From a sketchy and corrupt doctor (Zakir Hussain) to a murdering wife (Tabu) referred to as Lady Macbeth, Sriram Raghavan concocts a deliciously noir backdrop to this dark comedy. The humour here is absurdly morbid – Tabu embodies the macabre persona with charm and twisted wit.
Amar Akbar Anthony (Amazon Prime Video and Netflix)
It is not often that you see a Bollywood masala comedy that has religious secularism as subtext. Three brothers are separated in childhood, and are raised by Christian, Hindu, and Muslim households respectively. Director Manmohan Desai creates a series of implausible and funny coincidences to unite the three brothers played by Vinod Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, and Rishi Kapoor.
Android Kunjappan Version 5.25 (Amazon Prime Video)
Sci-fi based comedies are often rare to come across, and even more so when it is a tale of heart-warming incidents. To help take care of a stubborn father (Suraj Venjaramoodu), his son Subrahmanian (Soubin Shahir), introduces him to a Android robot. Kunjappan, the robot, brings touching humour to the table, developing a fascinating relationship with the uncooperative father.
Dil Chahta Hai (Amazon Prime Video and Netflix)
A buddy-comedy, coming-of-age romantic drama still does not summarise directorial debut Farhan Akhtar. The emotions are more complex and humour more intricate. Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna play seemingly incompatible but loyal friends that overcome various obstacles of life. And Akhtar captures college life and its transition into adulthood with ease and light-heartedness.
Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (Netflix)
There are a surprising number of comedies where infants get separated from their birth parents only to be reunited later. Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, too, follows a similar arc where Bantu (Allu Arjun) is a millionaire's son who learns of this by accident when he's much older. This film offers a spree of entertainment with comedy, drama, and action.
The life and behaviour of a joint family goes topsy-turvy as their new sister-in-law, Manju (Rekha) enters the household. An indictment of rigid social norms, Rekha's unabashed character Manju challenges the domestic matriarch and her tyranny. Another Hrishikesh Mukherjee film, this is an earthy and daringly funny depiction of Indian joint families.
Michael Madhana Kamarajan (Amazon Prime Video)
Another comedy driven by coincidence, this is a story of how quadruplets, that are separated at birth, grow up to become an affluent heir, a cook, fireman, and a thug. In this comedy of errors, the lives of the four siblings intersect as the thug is assigned to kill his millionaire brother. Kamal Haasan's power-packed performance as all quadruplets coupled with Ilaiyaraaja's memorable track make for an Indian potboiler to cherish.
Theeya Velai Seyyanum Kumaru (Netflix)
A timid, shy IT worker is intimidated by the idea of attracting women he likes and resorts to a love guru. Siddharth is compelling as the introvert and Santhanam, even more so, as the sage of anything and everything romantic. This film is a sweet depiction of the everyday dating phobia and is naturally, very awkwardly funny.
Avvai Shanmughi (Amazon Prime Video)
Inspired by Mrs. Doubtfire, Avvai Shanmughi is about a Pandyan (Kamal Haasan), who after a divorce, loses custody of his daughter so he disguises himself as a female housekeeper and becomes her nanny. Haasan's lack of vanity makes for a comic treat and this film's success was also reverberated by its remake in Bollywood with Chachi 420.
Dhamaal (Netflix and MX Player)
A group of morally-grey friends set sail on a mission to find buried treasure in Goa, that is also being chased by a police inspector. Once you suspend disbelief, you are in for a ride of farcical comedy – where you'll see an absurd plane landing, a goofy bus hijack, and a lot more. This aptly-titled escapade is held together by the buffoonish performances of Javed Jaffrey, Sanjay Dutt, and the scene-stealer Vijay Raaz.
Namak Halaal (Amazon Prime Video and Netflix)
Amitabh Bachchan's, "I can talk English, I can walk English, I can laugh English," is forever etched in the hallmark of great Bollywood dialogues. This is a blockbuster comedy difficult to top. Bachchan maintains his comic timing and beats thugs with style, and with Bappi Lahiri's evergreen soundtrack, this action-comedy is one for the ages.
Bangalore Days (Disney+ Hotstar)
A flavourful story of three cousins who move to Bangalore, the film explores their relationships with each other and the city, delicately as well as breezily. And even as Anjali Menon shows a despondent marriage or a failed relationship, the humour never fizzles out. Also, it's the only time you'll get to see Nivin Pauly, Fahadh Faasil and Dulquer Salmaan in the same film.
Jab We Met (Amazon Prime Video)
This film has a national presence like very few movies – those who have not seen it would probably know of Geet's unrestrained chattiness or Pritam's groovy soundtrack. Imtiaz Ali created his own canon for Bollywood rom-coms – where the outlook of a depressed and dejected businessman entirely changes after encountering a peppy woman on a train. The humour is ingenious and it is all accentuated by Kareena Kapoor Khan's and Shahid Kapoor's versatility.
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (Amazon Prime Video)
A deep, dark look into the scandals of bureaucracy and politics, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro can be proclaimed a cult classic that redefined the genre of comedy – two Mumbai-based photographers get caught up a builder's surreptitious dealings with the government along with a murder. It ends with a comical revamp of the Mahabharata that is equally tense and dark.
Delhi Belly (Netflix)
Scatological toilet humour, fake sex to evade gangsters, and a fair share of swearing – if there's any film that describes Delhi best, it's this one. This audacious black comedy shows how three roommates unwittingly fall into Delhi's criminal province after a bunch of mix-ups. From a comically menacing Vijay Raaz to Ram Sampath's absurdly funky music, Abhinay Deo and Akshat Varma construct a ballsy, amoral laughter mania.