It was a perfect Sunday I always wanted to spend. Sitting lazily on the couch and watching an old film from the 1970s. I am a big fan of the Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee and their style of filmmaking. That's why, I chose to watch Basu Chatterjee's "Chhoti Si Baat" starring Amol Palekar, Vidya Sinha, Ashoke Kumar and Asrani. I was told that Chhoti Si Baat was released in the mid seventies when I wasn't even born :).
Chhoti Si Baat is a story of Arun Pradeep (Amol Palekar), a middle-class bachelor who works in a private firm. He is a very shy and low on self confidence. Following the tradition of his company of love marriages by all its employees, he also falls in love with a girl Prabha Narayan (Vidya Sinha). He sees Prabha daily at the bus stop en route to his office. He follows her everyday but is scared of talking to her. Prabha (Vidya Sinha) takes notice of this and also starts liking him. After an incident, he collects all his courage and starts a conversation with her.
Nagesh Shastri (Asrani), a friend of Prabha. Amol finds him to be the unwelcome guest because he is a very street-smart guy and an expert in all fields. Now, starts a series of hilarious situation between these three where Nagesh shows his smartness and how he makes Arun feel jealous. After losing all hopes to get Prabha and express his love, he goes to take lessons for personality from development from retired Colonel Julius Nagendranath Wilfred Singh (Ashoke Kumar) in Khandala. The rest of the film comprises of how he gets lessons and then how he implements them too woo Prabha.
Although, the story is very simple and straight, it is the execution and the storytelling which turns out to be the highpoint of the film. How a very simple situation makes you laugh out loud is the beauty of the film. Since this was the first movie I saw of Basu Chatterjee, I can't comment much except that the direction was topnotch. The most important thing I liked about the filmmaker is his expertise of showcasing everyday middle class life which is still untouched by any other director even after nearly three decades.
Sitting in 2010 and watching Bombay of the 1970s in the film is an experience in itself which gives a nostalgic feeling. Empty roads, trailer and double decker buses, trains, fashion, offices, telephones, lifestyles, buildings, cars or anything for that matter of those years is a pleasure to watch. Everything leaves an impression which cannot be erased from one's memory soon. For example, I personally cannot forget the name of the company Arun Pradeep worked, "Jackson Tolaram & Sons".
The music of the film is not as popular except the title track and Jaaneman Jaaneman. Amol Palekar has always been top grade and portrays the role of a shy bachelor with perfection. His style and acting is another highlight of the film. Vidya Sinha fits the role of a conservative middle glass perfectly. Asrani is perfectly cast for the role of Nagesh. Ashoke Kumar as a retired army major and the personality development trainer is a pleasure to watch.
On the whole, Chhoti Si Baat is a very plain simple comedy without any over the top performances as seen in today's films. It's the perfect treat you can give yourself if you like this clean and family oriented cinema. I can assure that it will be worth the two-and-a-half hours on any holiday. On the ratings chart, this movie gets a four star out of five therefore making it highly recommended.