The perennially popular sixties romcom Padosan is not like a Billy Wilder comedy or a 1940s Cary Grant gigglefest which banked on crackling lines to raise laughs. Padosan relies on madcap situations, slapstick humour and the physical energy of its stars to bring a forceful sparkle to the zany goings-on.
Based on Arun Chowdhury's Bengali story Pasher Bari, Padosan has a premise which promises to be a rich mine of laughs: about the all-too-thawable ice maiden Bindu (Saira Banu) and her three suitors. The motley crew of suitors comprises a blubbery, balding and besotted-though-married Kunwarji (Om Prakash), his simpleton 'virginal' nephew Bhola (Sunil Dutt), and Bindu's dance master Pillai (Mehmood).
N C Sippy
| Jyoti Swaroop
|| R D Burman
|| Sunil Dutt,
Bindu is described by one of the characters in the film as, "Ladki modern aur forward hai, par hai toh khandani."
At 26, Bhola realises he has wasted a year of his grahastashram (married life). Keen to make amends, he decides to take the plunge as soon as possible. He hooks beauteous Bindu, literally, with a fishing rod while she is swimming. Bhola falls for her hook, line and sinker. He now seeks the aid of his acting guru Vidyapati (Kishore Kumar) and his three whacky troupe members who seem to be glued to each other's waist (Mukri, Raj Kishore, and Keshto Mukherjee)
To Bhola's delight, the bathing beauty next door trilling Bhai battor bhai battoor is none other than Bindu.
But Bindu prefers instead to bask in her dance master's feverish attentions. Bhola is disheartened till Guruji, as Vidyapati is addressed, realises that Masterji's trump card is his talent for crooning. When he exhorts Bhola to sing, to his dismay, a donkey is the only one to appreciate the lad's vocal efforts.
Guruji readies Bhola to woo Bindu with a song. He makes Bhola lip sync while he sings from behind a curtain. Bhola and Pillai now make both music and war. When Bhola, abetted by Guruji, beats Masterji in a singing duel, Bindu promptly shifts her affections to Bhola.
Bhola wants to divulge the truth to Bindu but Guruji warns him that ethics are for weaklings. When the ruse is finally exposed, a furious Bindu decides to marry Bhola's Mama!
When Mama refuses, she latches on to the ever-obliging Masterji. The climax, messy by design and involving a phony suicide by Bhola on Bindu's wedding night, culminates with a marry-go-round.
Raring to do more, lyricist Rajinder Krishen also doubles up as Padosan's dialogue and screenplay writer. But while the lyrics are artfully mood-elevating and the screenplay eventful and saucy, the dialogues could have been funnier.
Director Jyoti Swaroop relies on several touches of inspired madness to generate comedy. As Bhola plays Peeping Tom when Bindu is lathering herself, he takes care to first decorously cover his Mama's portrait with a cloth. In the climax, when Bhola poses as a dead man, he is about to sneeze because his Mami's hair (she is weeping with her head on his shoulder) tickles his nostrils. Guruji saves the situation by dexterously redirecting Mami's head the other way.
The score adds considerably to the side-splitting proceedings. Especially Ek chatur naar badi hoshiyaar, which is a stroke of inspired musical mayhem. In Rajendra Krishen's knee-slapping lyrics, Mehmood's seemingly-impromptu verbal interjections, Yeh sur badla, yeh phir bhatkaya in the midst of the Ek chatur naar duel has the audience doubling up with laughter.
Choreographer Suresh Bhatt further ensures that the songs remain amusing. In Kehna hai, kehna hai an excited Bhola and Masterji break into a farcical waltz; in the crowd-pleaser Mere saamne wali khidki mein, a paint box, a paan ka dibba and a broom serve as musical instruments.
Sunil Dutt sticks his neck out and plays the bumbling idiot, a role not many 1960s heroes would have considered macho enough. Fortunately it pays off. Dutt gives a warm performance. Saira Banu plays the cheeky, light-headed glam doll with delectable airiness.
But the battle of ha-ha-strionic essentially narrows down to Kishore Kumar and Mehmood.
Both wear their zany getups like second skin. The dhoti-clad, paan- chewing Kishore Kumar sports a mop of middle-parted hair that flops each time he breaks into a musical frenzy. Mehmood makes a uproariously funny sight in a rolled-up dhoti, and a bright bald pate save for a ponytail. The South Indian accent with sundry "Ayyo" and "Amma" et al, forms a major part of Mehmood's arsenal.
Stereotype aside, he is delightfully endearing, falling over sofas and once, almost out of the balcony as he pursues the beauteous Bindu.
Kishore Kumar revels in his portrayal of the goofy guru, investing physical energy and infectious kookiness in his role. Watch him roll his eyeballs, dance as if he were in a trance and speak in his sing-song cadence, and you are aware you watching a rare comic talent.
|Famous songs from Padosan|
| Main chali main chali
|| Lata Mangeshkar,
| Bhai battoor
|| Lata Mangeshkar
| Aao aao sanwariya
|| Manna Dey
| Mere samnewali
| Kishore Kumar
| Ek chatur naar
|| Manna Dey
| Mere bhole balam
|| Kishore Kumar
| Sharam aati hai magar
|| Lata Mangeshkar
| Kehna hai aaj tumse
|| Kishore Kumar
* Saira Banu's grandmother saw Padosan time and again. It was her favourite comedy.
* After Padosan, Sunil Dutt worked again with Saira when he signed her for his home production, Nehle Pe Dehla. He never attempted a comedy again.
* The Kishore Kumar-Mehmood pairing had earlier tickled ribs in Pyar Kiye Jaa (1966). They might have continued to do more films, had Aradhana's popularity not revived Kishore's singing career in a huge way.
* R D Burman's first break had come courtesy Mehmood in Chhote Nawab (1961). The two friends had done Bhoot Bangla and reached their collaborative apogee in Padosan.
* In Padosan, RD gave Lata two lovely solos, the peppy Bhai battoor and the dulcet Sharam aati hai while Asha Bhosle had to share her only song, Main chali main chali with Lata.
* RD cleverly adapts the 1939 Sant Tulsidas hit song Ban chale Ram Raghurai for Dekhi teri chaturai.
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Design: Uday Kuckian