Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Cult of Gogo

While on the topic of comedies, the polite gathering inevitably discusses Golmaal, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi – and sometimes even, Gold Rush.
And you feel a little defensive about your choice. But then, the vodka has loosened your tongue a bit and you suddenly speak up, “Actually, Andaz Apna Apna is a much better comedy than these. In terms of sheer wackiness and inventiveness, there is nothing to beat the movie. Some of the characters are so crazy that…” And trail off when you realize that a silence has descended on the gathering.
The hostess announces dinner and there is a lull. At which point, that guy in the balcony (whose name you didn’t quite catch) comes up to you and says, “Its true, you know. Every time I see Shakti Kapoor’s ‘dhak-ki-tiki dhak-ki-tiki’ dance on my VCD, I still laugh the same way I laughed the first time.”
You immediately know that you have found a friend for life. And the Cult of Gogo lives on!

Andaz Apna Apna (1994) remains an absolute cult favourite – which never got box-office success but continues to be the toast of each successive cohort which catches the movie on a lazy Sunday afternoon on Zee Cinema.
Considering the two heroines were at loggerheads during the making of the movie (due to a romantic dispute over Akshay Kumar, I think) and one hero took an immediate dislike to other’s undisciplined ways, the comic timing is quite brilliant.
But what is it exactly that the movie retains its charms more than a decade after its making?

To start with, the names…
The two heroes are Amar Prem. One goes 'Ai La'. The other goes 'Ooi Ma'! (And the full name of the latter is Dr Prem Khurana, Iss dhande mein bahut purana...)
The leading ladies are Raveena and Karishma. Easy? Actually, the actress called Raveena is playing the character called Raveena (and vice versa) whose actual name in the film is Karishma (and vice versa). But when the twist is discovered, she continues to be called as Raveena, which she is not. Aaarrggghh!
Of course, the villains are an Ajit-clone and his sidekick (named Robert, pronounced Raabert, mispronounced Rabbit!).
The second round of confusion between Ramgopal Bajaj and evil twin brother – Teja.
And finally, the piece de resistance – CRIME MASTER GOGO! Who is an international crime boss, wearing what the heroes respectfully call a ‘ghagra’!

It is a mayhem of a comedy film – slapstick (with secretly administered purgatives and shadow fighting during the climax), mistaken identities (“Teja main hoon kyunki mera naam bhi Teja hain”), non-stop nonsense (a jilted lover goes to commit suicide but “upar bahut ooncha tha isliye neeche se koodungi”) and even a spot of nostalgia (yesteryears stars Jagdeep, Deven Varma & Mehmood appearing with allusions to their most famous roles… Jagdeep being from Bhopal and Mehmood running a studio called Wah Wah Productions).

And it is all simple, low-brow comedy… no satire, no word plays, no underlying layer. It targeted the masses with such a vengeance that it left them bemused. The roller-coaster ride of humour was unrelenting and all those who expected a soft romantic scene, the mandatory ill-mother sub-plot or at least an aggressive call to arms against the villain were left high and dry!
Never before and never after has there been a comedy which is 100% so… not a single moment, not a single sub-plot, not a single set-piece is anything else. Even supposedly sentimental scenes are handled with such rip-roaring humour that there is not a moment’s respite in the laughs!

The wackiness that makes Cyrus Broacha and all the stand-up comedians such a rage today was first seen in AAA. And it predated the genre by about half a decade. Which is why all box-office reports continue to classify the film as a curt ‘Flop’.
Sample these…
Main Mogambo ka bhatija...
Main khandaani chor hain, ayaa hoon toh kuch toh lekar jayoonga…
Aankhein lekar gotiyan kheloonga…

Woh teele pe mila tha humne uska naam Teelu rakh diya tha…
Woh zamaana bhi kya tha jab maine Mohun Bagan ke liye 6 goal daage the…
Absurdity at its hilarious best.

And the spoofs…
In one memorable scene, Aamir Khan (Amar) is asked to cut the inaugural ribbon of a lock-up as the sad version of his anthem – Papa Kehte The – played in the background!
And in another, Salman Khan (Prem) gets all excited and says, “Sholay! Woh picture toh maine 50 baar dekhi hain!” To which comes the pat retort, “Haan, tere baap ne jo likha hain!” Such an ordinary line made unforgettable by the fact Salman’s baap is one Mr Salim Khan… Marvellous!

As for the director Raj Kumar Santoshi, I think it is a tribute to his underrated talent, that his release just prior to AAA was a woman-oriented thriller (Damini) and just after was a mushy love-story (Barsaat).
As they say, woh mahaan hain, buddhimaan hain, shaktimaan hain, balki woh to purush hi nahin hain :-O Mahapurush hain, mahapurush!
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