Monday, January 5, 2009

Gol Maal (1979)

Yes, Yes, YEEESSS!!! I've finally found a Bollywood comedy to love!

Ahh, I've struggled so to get here. I know I haven't been making the best choices, but for a long while I didn't know where to start. Gol Maal was recommended to me by Doc Bollywood and was a favorite on Shweta's Mac N' Cheese Movie Poll, so I just knew this was going to be a good one (Shweta and Sanket will never steer you wrong!)

Who can resist a face like this?

I was smiling as soon as Gol Maal started. As the opening credits roll, we see Amol Palekar and friends singing the title song in a happy little circle. Man, just the expressions on these guys faces are comedic enough, especially Amol Palekar:

Amol plays Ram Prasad Sharma, a recent college grad living with his sister. Knowing he'll be looking for a job, his uncle suggests he apply for an interview at his friend's firm. But there is a catch: The uncle's friend (Bhavani Shankar, played by Utpal Dutt) is extremely picky about who he hires (He even has a plaque in his office that reads, "WORK IS GOD"). As a matter of fact, there are several rules Ram must follow in order to get the job. His uncle tells him that Bhanvani:

1)Hates recommendations, therefore he can't use his uncle as reference.
2)Doesn't want to hire anybody with the least bit of interest in sports (which Ram loves) or music (which Ram also loves--see above images and video)...
3)Has a strong respect for Indian values...
4)Considers having a mustache a sign of strength and confidence!

Ram decides (somewhat reluctantly) to conform to this persona in order to become the ideal candidate for the job. He borrows pyjamas and a kurta from a friend (who happens to be in the film business, which leaves room for some fun cameos!), slicks his hair back, and pretends to have no interest in anything except work and his "rigid Indian values". The interview process goes smoothly, he is hired, the boss is happy, Ram is happy, everyone's happy. Of course, since the entire thing is based on a lie (Ram's carefree personality is miles away from the "New Ram"), we know Ram's headed for trouble.

This guy means business.

Ram's very proud of his new job, and we see him living the "good life", singing, throwing parties, feeding his friends. But when the gang invites him to a cricket match that happens to be going on during work hours, it doesn't take much convincing for Ram to devise a plan to get out of work early. He uses the oldest, riskiest trick in the book: His mother's sick and he has to go see her at once. Of course, since Ram has sort of become Bhavani's pet employee, he agrees and Ram happily attends the game with his pals.

But guess who also shows up at the game!

That's right, the boss himself. Sounds like something that would happen to me, yaar!

Of course, Bhavani's ticked off, and confronts Ram the very next day. Caught on the spot, Ram does the only thing he can do to save his hide: He tells his boss it wasn't him, but his twin brother, Lakshman, that he saw at the stadium. Bhavani actually feels guilty for mistrusting Ram and offers his brother a job at the firm to make it up to him. Ram frantically declines the offer, saying Lakshman is too incompetent for a job like this, since music is more his thing. But Bhavani won't take no for an answer, and counters with a job offer for "Lakshman" as a music tutor for his beautiful daughter, Urmila.

The boss' beautiful daughter.

I'm sure you can see where this is going. Ram has to assume two identites, the "New Ram" (which is the polar opposite of the real Ram) and the fictional twin Lakshman a.k.a. "Lucky" (who is actually more like the real Ram, only with a shaved mustache). By day he works for Bhavani in the office, and by night (which looks more like afternoon since its always during broad daylight) he tutors Urmila. Do they fall in love? This is Bollywood--Of course they do!

What follows is mixup after mixup, mishap after mishap, until Ram's lie blows up to enormous proportions. Most of the time I felt like I was watching a sitcom instead of a movie--and that ended up being a good thing! The comedic timing was spot on, the actors looked like they're having a fun, and the movie didn't drag one bit. It was just pure zany, wacky Bollywood fun! Like eating a bowl of mac 'n cheese, indeed!

It's probably no coincidence that Farah Khan chose the names of Shahrukh and Zayed's characters in Main Hoon Naa to be Ram Prasad and "Lucky" Sharma as well. I could see Gol Maal being one of her all time favorites, since this looks like it would be right up her alley!

There are cameos galore in Gol Maal. While I'm sure I missed some of them, the one with Amitabh Bachchan was appreciated, though I didn't get the whole "Anthony Bhai" thing all the way.

I recognized Rekha, Zeenat Aman, and Hema Malini, in a fun song that I really, really wish would have been subtitled because it looked like it was chock full of jokes and cameos!

Although all of the actors contributed greatly to the success of the film (even Ram's friends, who were used very little), Gol Maal belonged to its two leads, Amol Palekar and Utpal Dutt. Both of these guys were physically perfect for their roles, as you can probably tell from the images. Utpal fit the part of a grumpy ol' boss like a glove, and Amol...well, let's just say I now have a soft spot for Amol Palekar. His expressions, mannerisms, and goofy smile literally made my day!

Thanks to Gol Maal, this won't be my last venture into Bollywood comedy. It's the most hotch-potched, hilarious thing I've seen in Hindi cinema (yet) and I adored every minute of it!


Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat January 5, 2009 at 9:42 PM  

This is possibly one of my fav comedies as well Nida! From the cameos to the entire cast, there is no wrong in this movie. I think Dina Pathak was at her best ever here- she has never been so effective or so perfect :)

Nida January 5, 2009 at 9:57 PM  


Thanks for the recommendation!:)I agree--it all clicked into place, didn't it? Dina Pathak was marvelous as well...Of course, I haven't seen her in anything else to compare, but trust your judgement!

Shantanu January 6, 2009 at 2:20 AM  

I enjoy your reviews! Chanced upon the Ghajini/Slumdog post, but then stayed on to read your take on Golmaal, RNBDJ, etc. You write well. :)

BTW, you keep talking about subtitles. Is it possible you don't understand spoken Hindi? Especially given how much of a Bollywood fan you are...

Darshit January 6, 2009 at 5:56 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darshit January 6, 2009 at 5:58 AM  

Me too..
I loved Dina Pathak in this. Also loved Amol Palekar and his unusual style of speaking. And that song with cameos is superb.

Great start for bollywood comedies. Now can i expect review of Andaz Apna Apna? Its My most fav in this genre.

And if u loved this one.. Then how abt 'CHASHME BADDOOR'? Its fabulous movie from same era. Its romcom. And watch it cause its being re-made.

The Comic Project January 6, 2009 at 10:47 AM  

All time classic. And excellent selection of Utpal dutt in that "Work is god" image :-)

Agree with Nida and Shweta .. and Darshit :-) about Dina Pathak - she was too cool. Anyway, Dina Pathak is the one woman who could never be an evil mother in law (loved her in Khoobsurat).

@Darshit: Watch it coz its being re-made? :-) So you don't skip the original after the new one tears it apart? :-) well said. Chashme Baddoor (I think it had Firkyu Shekyu yes? with Deepti Naval?) - check out Kisi se na Kehna too.

Anonymous,  January 6, 2009 at 10:47 AM  

Yes, Chashme Baddoor is a fantastic movie. Also Damaad and Chotisi Baat are other wonderful Amol Palekar comdies. They are absolutely delightful.

ajnabi January 6, 2009 at 1:02 PM  

Hey, a Hindi comedy that a Westerner can love? I think I can jump on that bandwagon! Awesome write-up, Nida!

bollyviewer January 6, 2009 at 3:47 PM  

This is one comedy that just never dates and Utpal Dutt is awesome in comedy. As a kid I always thought he was a fun person and was shocked to see how scary he could be when he played villainous characters! :-) Amol Palekar has quite a few of these lighthearted comedies - Rang Birangi, Chhoti Si Baat and Naram Garam are all so much fun and he is of course, great!

Nicki January 7, 2009 at 9:34 AM  

Hey Nida. I never got to see the older version but the newer version sucks. However, your review has made me reconsider and I may just watch the older version.

You should try Andaz Apna Apna in the 90s. And for something more modern, Kya Kool Hai Hum, which I reviewed.

Nida January 7, 2009 at 2:41 PM  

Shantanu--Thank you and welcome!Hope you'll stop by again.:) To answer your question, no, I don't speak any Hindi at all. Or, rather, very very little that I've picked up from films and family.

Darshit--I totally have to buy "Andaz Apna Apna!" I had the DVD but mine broke halfway through so I couldn't finish it. Loved it so far, though. Although I hear the second half is even better than the first! And thanks for the "Chashme Baddor" recommendation. That sounds like something I would really like. Onto my list it goes!

The Comic Project--Thanks for stopping by!:)And yep, I just had to get a shot with Utpal and the "Work is God" plaque. It was just too funny...and reflects his character in the film so well!

Anonymous--Thanks for the recommendations! I loved Amol Palekar in this, if you could tell from my praise in my review, and will definitely check out the comedies you've suggested. :) Thanks for stopping by!

Ajnabi--Thank you! Glad I convinced you to give this a shot ( I did, didn't I?) I think you'd really like it--like Shweta said, there's virtually nothing wrong with this movie!

Bollyviewer--Thank you so much for the recommendations! I'm really glad to hear Amol Palekar has done more comedies like these, and that the feedback on them from all of you guys seems is so favorable. Utpal Dutt, as you pointed out, was awesome as you know if they've done anything else together?

Nicki--What?!? A film Nicki hasn't seen? lol-;) You must see this one! It's really so much fun! And thanks for the newer comedy recommendation!

Sanket Vyas January 8, 2009 at 9:14 AM  

Thanks so much for the kind words and I am so happy you enjoyed this movie! I had planned to do a review but can't really add much to your oh-so-full-of-goodness one ;)

This movie just goes to show that Hrishikesh Mukherjee's movies are timeless and never age. No extra nonsense or drama - just sweet perfection like in Mili, Abhimaan, Guddi, Chotisi Baat, Baaton Baaton Mein or Naram Garam (starring Palekar & Dutt again!).

My relatives always get such a kick listening to the classical Hindi being spoken by 'Ram' in this movie and the wonderful way in which the script almost becomes poetry in those parts. My Hindi/Urdu was all picked up from watching Bollywood so I although I enjoy hearing it, I can't appreciate it as much as they do.

The Kishore Kumar song with all the guest stars pretty well matches what is going on on-screen. The second verse is the cutest with 'Hema on my left, Zeenat on my right & Rekha right in front of me' - basically the dream was so good he actually had to wake up at that point!

And the Anthony Bhai reference? This movie came out 2 years after Amar, Akbar, Anthony propelled Amitabh to superstar status and he was riding the wave of popularity of being 'Anthony'. He had such great respect (and owed so much to Hrishida) that he was only too happy to do the cameos.

Keep on with the classics...

Nida January 8, 2009 at 12:06 PM  

Thank you Sanket! Glad to see your blog active as well--though I'm sure you've got your hands full of delightful, more important things with your newest addition to your family!

Thank you for the recommendations. I am going to write down every single movie mentioned in this post's comments--I can't believe all the great recommendations I've gotten!

I, of course totally missed the unique way of Ram's speaking. Darshit mentioned that too--but wow, amazing that the comedy still worked even with some elements getting lost in translation! I never felt like I was missing a thing.

And thank you, thank you, thank you for clearing up the Anthony thing and explaining the Hema/Zeenat/Rekha bit! I get it now--It makes the whole thing even funnier!

Siddharth,  January 20, 2009 at 8:38 AM  

This film was remade in Tamil as Thillu Mullu.

A clip from the Tamil movie,

Anonymous,  January 21, 2009 at 3:47 PM  

I'm so lucky I got to see this movie when I was little, I wasn't even close to being born when this movie was made, but my parents showed it to me. I love it. Was kind of sad when they made another Bollywood movie named Gol Maal.
I'm pretty sure the whole "Anthony Bhai" thing you were confused about was because of Amar Akbar Anthony. Oh wait, Sanket Vyas already said that. But still, love the movie!

Chaitanya,  January 22, 2009 at 11:08 AM  

Since u have a soft corner for Amol Palekar, i'll recommend another of his movie.. its called Choti Si Baat. same director i think, cast is different but as in this film, perfect. u got to watch that one too.

Nida January 25, 2009 at 1:31 PM  

Siddarth--Wow, thanks for the link! I had no idea there was a Tamil version!

Anonymous--Yeah, I noticed there's another GolMaal out was kind of frustrating when I was trying to search for the Youtube clips...kept getting the new one instead of this one, and it took me a long time to find the songs!I'm so glad I got to see the original, though!

Chaitanya--Thanks for the recommendation! That definitely sounds like something I'd be interested in--I'll add it to my list!

Thanks for stopping by, everyone!:)

bollywoodfoodclub January 26, 2009 at 11:36 AM  

Wow Siddharth, I didn't know it was remade into "Thillu Mullu" which I have seen. @ Anjabi, LOL at, "Hey, a Hindi comedy that a Westerner can love? I think I can jump on that bandwagon! Awesome write-up, Nida!"

Thanks Nida, I've had this on my list, but the comedy lable has scared me away until now.

All the best!

Nida January 28, 2009 at 3:17 PM  

Hi, Sita-ji! You should really check this one out...I think you'd really, really like it!

Anonymous,  February 26, 2009 at 3:57 AM  

well someone alraedy tod you abt the anthony bhai. at taht time a movie of amitabh was released named amar akbar anthony. which is abt three brother who were separated at birth and raised by three people of different religions. as u can see amar is a huindu name . akbar a islamic name.and not to mentuion anthony.

the character anthony is one of the first character to speak mumbaiya language. its a very stylish form of hindi and fun to hear. it was a craze back then. now you must have seen all the underworld characters in bollywood movies talks in theis form of accent.

Abdul Qayoom,  June 4, 2009 at 11:58 PM  

I have never seen such a fantastic hindi movie. amol palekar and his boss in the movie r just briliant actors i am creazy fan of both the actors.

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