Hi. This is FC Flashback. This month, we are celebrating one of Hindi cinema’s greatest talents – Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Hrishi da – as he was affectionately called – told stories that were deceptively simple. His characters and his craft weren’t flashy. But his films tugged at your heart. They were delightful, moving and memorable.
It’s very difficult to choose one Hrishi da film but I’m picking a title that has always made me smile – Chupke Chupke.
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.
Pyare Mohan insists on speaking in shudh Hindi — he refers to himself as a ‘vahan chalak.’ 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.
Hrishi da’s cinema brims with wit, charm and an inherent decency. Chupke Chupke is no exception. There is a real sense of fun here, much of it provided by Dharmendra who is in top form. His comic timing doesn’t falter, whether he’s driving jijaji crazy by asking why English is such a strange language or he is surreptitiously holding his wife’s hand in front of the whole family. Chupke Chupke is an artifact from a kinder, gentler time when humour in Hindi cinema wasn’t crass or mindless. It has an effortless sweetness that lingers long after the film is over.
You can watch Chupke Chupke on YouTube.
All this month, Film Companion will celebrate the works of Hrishikesh Mukherjee. You can follow our series FC Flashback which aims to reintroduce legendary actors, filmmakers and technicians to a young audience.