Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Chupke Chupke Continues To Be Relevant

We must acknowledge that in the midst of the simplicity and warmth of this Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra film lies an exhibition of progressive ideas and thoughts
Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Chupke Chupke Continues To Be Relevant

Forty-six years ago, on 11th April 1975, Chupke Chupke, directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, hit the theatres. It is, to date, an undisputed comedy classic. The movie is a complete family entertainer, but without any talk of sanskaar or moral values. The comedy in it does not rely on cheap jokes or making a mockery of a certain section of the society. We must also acknowledge that in the midst of the simplicity and warmth of the story lies an exhibition of progressive ideas and thoughts.

It is noteworthy that both the lead characters, Prof. Parimal Tripathi (Dharmendra) and Prof. Sukumar Sinha (Amitabh Bachchan), have love marriages. And this was at the time when arranged marriages and matrimonial advertisements were in vogue. Even today, many parents still insist on their children marrying the person of their (the parents') choice.

Another example of the makers' forward-thinking can be seen when Sulekha (Sharmila Tagore) hands over a chit to Prof. Tripathi with her contact details. It is significant because Hindi films have taught us that if we ever fall in love, the first move is to be made by the man. If he does not, then it undermines his manhood or 'mardaangi'. However, Sulekha breaks this stereotype. This was a welcome change because a woman too can initiate a relationship without being called 'loose'.

The obsession with the English language has been a matter of concern for decades. Many still suffer from the colonial hangover and rate a person according to the language they choose to converse in. In this movie, the situation is reversed. Raghav (Om Prakash) is looking for a driver who can speak 'shudh' or pure Hindi. Moreover, he must be from Allahabad because drivers with good spoken Hindi cannot be found in Mumbai. Yet the movie does not promote any language over the other. In fact, a thought-provoking dialogue is said during a telephone chat between Tripathi and Haripad (David Abraham). Tripathi tells him that he is feeling guilty about making fun of Hindi. To this, Haripad replies, "Tum bhasha ka mazak nahi, ek aadmi ka mazak kar rahe ho. Bhasha apne aap mein itni mahaan hoti hai ki uska mazak nahi kiya ja sakta!" ("You are making fun of a person, not a language. Language is so monumental that it cannot be mocked!")

It is imperative to appreciate and give credit to the makers and writers of Chupke Chupke, who made a film that not only embodies the qualities of a light-hearted, slice-of-life comedy but also subtly and broad-mindedly addresses the societal norms of the time.

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