Dialogue writer Dr Rahi Masoom Raza penned several droll lines for Golmaal, but one phrase, Baal baal bache (a close shave or, to be more specific, saved by a hair's breath), would have been appropriate for this witty Wodehousian comedy. Golmaal wrings much humour from the presence (or absence) of that inconsequential-to-most, hirsute growth on the male upper lip -- the moustache!
The turn of phrase also aptly conveys the dilemma of an alternatively-moustachioed-and-clean-shaven chartered accountant, Ram Prasad (Amol Palekar), whose belligerent boss, Bhavani Shankar (Utpal Dutt), is not only magnificently moustachioed himself, but is also a stern subscriber to the motto: A moustache is the mirror of the human soul and mind.
Bhavani is a man further circumscribed by a list of inherited principles that include hiring only single-minded people who do not waste time in dissecting sports, entertainment and other 'irrelevant' issues.
N C Sippy, Hrishikesh Mukherjee
|Hrishikesh Mukherjee||R D Burman||
Amol Palekar, Bindiya Goswami, Utpal Dutt
Unfortunately, after hiring Ram, he spots him at a hockey match. When confronted by his seething superior the next day, a quick-on-his-feet Ram instantly creates a fictional character -- his moustache-less twin, Laxman, an irresponsible rake with a passion for singing.
But Ram's reprieve proves to be short-lived. Bhavani expresses a desire to meet Laxman and employ him as a music teacher for his daughter Urmila (Bindiya Goswami).
The meeting between Lucky-alias-Laxman-alias-Ram and Bhavani is a piece of inspired lunacy. Director Hrishikesh Mukherjee taps into an employee's latent rage at his boss and its exposition when opportunity presents itself.
Laxman deliberately mistakes Bhavani for a gardener and, when corrected by a miffed Bhavani, refers to him as an 'old man' -- the plucky Lucky reasons only an old man could have a name like Bhavani Shankar. Lucky further brags he will consider Urmila as a student only if he finds her worthy of his talent. But once Laxman meets the doe-eyed Urmila, his heart does a double flip and he holds on to the job, 'twin' complications be damned!
Matters come to a dizzy head, when Bhavani expresses a desire to meet the duo's mother. With the help of his actor friend, Deven Verma (Deven Verma playing himself), Ram ropes in a temporary ma (mother) -- Mrs Srivastav (Dina Pathak), a sprightly socialite for whom acting is a hobby.
Despite a few glaring goofs, Mrs Srivastav, aided by an all-white widow's garb, is able to fool the hawk-eyed Bhavani. But, to make the golmaal (confusion) even more jalebi-like (a pretzel-like sweetmeat), Bhavani meets Mrs Srivastav, dressed to the nines, at a common friend's party. An ashen Mrs Srivastav quickly conjures up the story of yet another twin -- her own!
The final twist to the golmaal, before it is finally set straight in a hair-raising (pun intended) finish, is provided by Bhavani's decision to make Ram his son-in-law. To his dismay, Urmila avers she has resolved to marry Laxman.
In one of the film's many ironical laughs, a piqued Urmila chides Laxman for canvassing so blatantly for his brother, Ram.
Behind Amol Palekar's unassuming persona lurks an actor with a prominent funny bone. His twin turns as Ram Prasad (who wears sedate, short kurtas, oiled hair and takes refuge in pregnant pauses each time he is confronted with a fresh dilemma) and Laxman Prasad (who wears flamboyant shirts, has a moptop and walks with a swagger while flaunting a pen-knife) is a double dose of comically-rewarding characterisations.
Amol's finds a tough adversary in the scene-stealing sweepstakes in the uproarious Utpal Dutt, whose avuncular smile dissolves into a raging smirk and voice moves from a scream to a squeak in nanoseconds.
In this ensemble comedy, a casting coup of comedians (Dina Pathak, Deven Verma, Om Prakash), Shubha Khote has her moment under the sun and evokes belly laughs when she reveals to a busily-chomping Amol that her husband died on the dining table after eating her Maharaja mooli parathas. She promises to make mooli parathas for Amol too! Amol's reaction is priceless -- he insists regular aloo parathas are just fine with him.
Undoubtedly the story, penned by Sailesh Dey, offers tremendous scope for the funnies, but Golmaal is largely screenplay writer Sachin Bhowmick's handiwork. He revels in throwing his characters into corny situations from which they extricate themselves only after extravagant bursts of imagination.
Aanewala pal jaanewala hain
|Golmaal hai bhai sab golmaal hai||R D Burman, Sapan Chakraborty|
|Ek din sapne mein||Kishore Kumar, Amit Kumar|
|Ek baat kahoon sach maano tum||Lata Mangeshkar|
Hrishikesh Mukherjee's is an old hand at comedy. His eye for absurd detail is evident in the scene where a fuming Utpal Dutt wants to confront a petrified Dina Pathak but is faced with the Herculean challenge of being able to sit on the moving swing she is perched on. Also, the scene were a bulky Dina Pathak squeezes herself through a narrow kitchen window and almost lands in the sink, is a visual mirthquake.
Dialogue writer Rahi Masoom Raza's lines are consistently upbeat and sans nonsensical banter (the bane of quite a few Hindi films).
Amol to Utpal Dutt (punning on the moustache imbroglio): "Aapke aur mere beech baal barabar bhi deewar na khadi ho paaye [No wall, not even one as thin as a strand of hair, should form a barrier between us]."
Utpal Dutt: "Main tujhe maaf nahin, saaf kar doonga [I will not forgive you, I will finish you]."
*Amol Palekar and Hrishikesh Mukherjee formed a team post-Golmaal and worked in Naram Garam (1981), Rang Birangi (1983) and Jhoothi (1986). But none of these films could raise even half as many laughs as Golmaal.
*Hrishikesh's favourite stars, Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha, made special appearances as themselves in the film.
*Bharat Rungacharay, the associate director of Golmaal, went on to direct films on his own. He made the comedy, Baat Ban Jaaye (1986), with Zeenat Aman, Sanjeev Kumar and Amol Palekar.
*R D Burman's zingy background score was in perfect consonance with the mood of the film. Kishore Kumar's sonorous rendition of Aanewala pal jaanewala hain is a perfect hum-along song even today.
*Burman was accompanied on the title song by his associate Sapan Chakroborty, who went on to become a music director in his own right.