Madcap is what best describes Peechha Karro. Directed by Pankaj Parashar, who made the cult classic Jalwa and the blockbuster ChaalBaaz, Peechha Karro (1988) is more a collection of funny set pieces that work rather than a single coherent plot. That seems to be by design as the movie does not consciously follow any discernible rules of screenplay. Rather, it is a spoof on the generic tropes of the screenplays of the popular cinema of those days. The opening credits appear over a dance number reminiscent of the Helen-Bindu numbers from the 70s and 80s. Likewise the other songs: the love ballad ‘Chham se aaye’ has the gifted Farooq Sheikh in his jumping-jack mode à la Jeetendra from the ‘Tathaiya Tathaiya’
university universe of dancing. The leading lady Roma is in fact mistaken for Sridevi by a character just before the song, which is even picturised on the lines of ‘Tathaiya Tathaiya’. At another point, the leads break into a drug-induced psychedelic number: Jaane Kya Hua Rama Rama takes a dig at the Mithun Chakraborty-starring disco movies.
Forget about the plot and you are sure to fall into a laugh-a-thon at the individual sequences. Like the one with secret code words like kutte ko billi ka salaam (the cat salutes the dog) and Is haath makkhan becho, us haath malai lo (a translator’s nightmare). Amjad Khan meows and Sudhir barks to complete a cryptic handshake, the kind that the best hackers will not be able to decrypt. Look closely and, in a scene, you can see the actors almost breaking into uncharacteristic smiles at the sheer randomness of their acts. Amjad Khan seems to be having the time of his life in a movie that takes itself as seriously as the folks spamming Goa beaches take the COVID-19 virus. He imitates a cat and abruptly breaks into Bharatanatyam in the middle of a fight, which is perfectly in sync with the overall tone of the movie.
In one of his memorable movie appearances, Rajendranath plays Kandharam who runs an ‘economical’ funeral supply store and is constantly worried about where the next bit of business (death) is going to come from. He is a part of many comedic set pieces, including one where he is interrupted on his way to a wedding by Ravi Vaswani, who takes his clothes to the “laundry” (reminds one of a similar sequence in 3 Idiots). Peechha Karro retains the spoof in its theme till the closing shot as the police arrive after the climax fight with none other than Iftikhar, the policeman of Bollywood for three decades, doing the honours. Satish Shah and Ravi Vaswani play two undercover secret agents, Giri Haridhara and Hari Giridhara, who change their camouflage and names all through the runtime. By the climax they end up referring to each other by every possible permutation of their names in a Shakespearean manner. Farooq Sheikh, who had played subtle characters in comedies like Chashme Buddoor and Rang Birangi before this, takes the mickey out of the prevalent protagonist template.
This relatively lesser-known burlesque work has inspired many comedies. Anupam Kher’s Boss Number 1 is a predecessor to Andaz Apna Apna’s Crime Master Gogo, right from his flowing cape costume to the weird antics. So is the climax in the villain’s ‘secret’ den. One can also find a prelude to the eccentricity in Priyadarshan comedies of the subsequent decades. This wacky mix of farce, absurd and situational, in Peechha Karro deserves more appreciation than has come its way. It’s available on Prime Video.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.