New Delhi: Her hair neatly plaited at the back, an eager, young Deepti Naval enters the bachelor pad of Farooq Sheikh to sell a packet of detergent powder. She has a daily quota of 20 house visits to register at the company that sells the 'Chamko' detergent powder and Sheikh's is the last house of the day, she pleads.
But Sheikh, wiping traces of shaving foam from his face, says he just isn't interested. As a crestfallen Naval turns to leave, he calls out 'suniye Miss Chamko, aap dijiye apna demonstration' (Listen Miss Chamko, please give your demonstration).
The scene forms the highlight of a film that was a classic buddy movie of the early 80s and gained a cult following of Naval-Sheikh loyalists over the years. The actors, Sheikh, Rakesh Bedi and Ravi Baswani were all in their early 30s and Naval was only 24 at the time 'Chashme Buddoor' was released in 1981. The scene blended the innocence of the age with a naive charm that characterised all Naval-Sheikh romances.
So it cuts deep that the new version of the film, starring Ali Zafar, Siddharth, Taapsee Pannu and Divyendu Sharma, reduces the film's best moment, the first awkward meeting of the male and female leads, to a sham.
(There are spoilers from the new film, so if you haven't seen it yet, come back to this post later)
Here are some of the original dialogues from the 1981 scene.
"Dekhiye mein Chamko sabun ki agent hoon," Naval says at the door as a bewildered Sheikh tries his level best to discourage her from giving a demonstration of how the miracle detergent works.
Naval: Dhulai ke liye kaun sa sabun istmaal karte hai? (Which detergent do you use to wash your clothes?)
Sheikh: Hum sabun istmaal hi nahi karte hain, humaare saare kapde laundry mein jaata hai. (We don't wash our clothes, we send it to the laundry)
Naval: Abhi toh aapne kaha tha ki bahut stock hai (of detergent)? (But you just said you have an abundant stock of detergents at your house?)
Sheikh: (awkward smile)
Naval: Mujhe bhagane ke liye? (smiles) (To get rid of me?)
In the new film, the scene isn't even between the main leads. It is instead played out between a lovelorn middleaged couple - in this case the landlady of the three rascals played by Lilette Dubey (Josephine) and cafe owner Rishi Kapoor (Joseph Furtado). While Dubey comes to check on Kapoor's character, the latter is doing some checking up of his own during the course of the demonstration of the washing powder. Given that Kapoor already knows, through the boys, that Dubey is their landlady, the whole scene loses meaning when she poses as the salesperson of the Chamko detergent.
Even the classic line, delivered effortlessly by Naval - "Chamko - kapdo ke liye behtareen sabun, baar baar lagataar, Chamko kapdo mein chakachaundh chamak lane ke liye, khushbudaar, jhaagwala Chamko" - falls flat when Dubey says it to Kapoor.
The scene lacks conviction and the innocent chemistry that the 80's actors had.
For instance, Naval says "Ek balti thande paani mein safed, chamkeela..." Sheikh, who's warming up to her, interrupts "jhaagwala", Naval smiles and continues "jhaagwala Chamko sabun ke do chammach daal dijiye".
For years films have recreated Alfred Hitchcock's classic 'Psycho' shower scene. It has made the original that much more delectable and memorable. The only good thing that comes out of the new enactment of the Chamko scene is that you will remember the old one more fondly.
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