In Praise Of Golmaal And The Magnificence Of Utpal Dutt’s Performance

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Yesterday, rather late at night, and for no particular reason, I watched Golmaal.

Not the new one – or is it the new ones? The Golmaal, the one with Amol Palekar, Bindiya Goswami and the peerless Utpal Dutt.

In fact, it isn’t too much of a stretch to say that the lead pair was Amol Palekar and Utpal Dutt, such is the magnificence of their acting. And in fact, there is a point in the movie when Utpal Dutt says as much to his daughter (played by Bindiya Goswami) – that she shouldn’t marry the guy she loves, but the guy he loves.

But, dear reader, I digress as usual. Watching that movie last night reminded me, once again, about how it is probably my favorite movie from Bollywood, and for the following reasons – as they say, in no particular order.

First, R.D. Burman’s music. Right from the title song until the hauntingly beautiful “Aanewala Pal”, the movie is full of little remembered gems that deserve better recognition.

Second, for the hilarious storyline, that is just on the right side of implausible. All of you know it anyway (and if you don’t, cancel everything else for the next two hours and watch the movie already), but even if you don’t, there’s no spoilers you need to worry about – it’s just a light, fluffy tale that is simple in the telling, and rich in the viewing. Hrishikesh Mukherjee at his best, in my opinion.

Third, for a truly impressive supporting cast. Amol Palekar’s friends, the staff in the office, the friendly “Doctor Mama”, the “Aunty” who transmogrifies into a “Ma”, Deven Verma (playing himself), the rotund police inspector towards the end of the movie, the charming drunkard, and the unfailingly hilarious “Kalindi” ensure that there isn’t a superfluous scene in the entire duration of the movie.

But above all, you should watch the movie (again and again, at that) for Utpal Dutt.

A truly brilliant actor, revered as much in theater as he was in cinema, he was at his best in this movie. I ended up watching numerous scenes multiple times, in order to relive his pitch perfect sense of timing and dialogue delivery. Small nuances stand out: his attempt to sit on the swing, his request to have his daughter marry Amol Palekar, or his traumatic experiences in the police station – Utpal Dutt single handedly elevates this movie from a nice watch to a brilliant, compelling movie.

But all that being said, I also had a rather pressing question while watching the movie, and it is this: what exactly passed for fashion in the late 1970’s when it came to shareer ki uparardh ki lajja nivaran?

Each shirt worn by each of the young men in the movie conveys an unremitting sense of the shirt designers having imbibed unhealthily large amounts of marijuana. If not something stronger. Each of those shirts is in a league of its own, I assure you.

But all that apart, as I was saying, watch Golmaal for Utpal Dutt at his very finest. It doesn’t matter if you have seen it before or not – there aren’t many better ways to spend an evening at home, than by watching one of the best movies Bollywood has ever made.

And that, I assure you, is no exaggeration.


Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish is a confirmed Punekar, which guarantees eternal undying love for the city, but also mandates an incurable sense of cynicism about it.

He doesn't expect the paradox to be resolved in his lifetime
Ashish Kulkarni