Chashme Baddoor is an enjoyable comedy, and I’m not just saying that because Ali Zafar is adorable. And his hair looks so soft. And when he smiles, I feel like I’m floating.
Knowing that David Dhawan is responsible for both the film’s direction and updating the screenplay from 1981’s Chashme Buddoor, I expected the film to be as crude and tedious as some of his other recent comedies, like Rascals and Do Knot Disturb. Though it has a few annoying elements, Chashme Baddoor is a sweet, funny film about the ways love can interfere with friendship.
The plot focuses on three best friends living it up in Goa: bookish Sid (Ali Zafar) and two aspiring Lotharios, Jai (Siddharth) and Omi (Divyendu Sharma). Their landlady, Ms. Josephine (Lilette Dubey), and the tough-guy owner of the local bar, Mr. Joseph (Rishi Kapoor), can’t understand why a guy with as much potential as Sid hangs out with two losers.
The film introduces Jai and Omi first, which is something of a mistake, since they’re not as likeable as a Sid. The apparent risqué humor of Omi’s romantic poetry doesn’t translate well from spoken Hindi into English subtitles, and Jai is too brash. Their antics are often accompanied by irritating musical cues that had me reaching for my earplugs.
Jai and Omi take turns trying to woo the cute new girl in town, Seema (Taapsee Pannu). Both flame out, but conceal their failure from each other and Sid, inventing stories of romantic conquest. When Sid — having never seen Seema before — falls for her, Jai and Omi conspire to break the couple apart before Seema can reveal their rebuffed flirtations and subsequent lies.
More than just a pretty face, Zafar does a fine job playing Sid as a regular guy. He’s shy, but not mousey; scholarly, not nerdy. Sid’s presence has a calming influence on his buddies, and Omi and Jai are at their best when they’re with Sid.
Pannu likewise does a fine job with Seema, who is feisty without becoming a shrill caricature. She’s youthful but a bit more worldly and confident than Sid, enough to lead him to believe that she could be a lot more worldly than him.
Anupam Kher plays a double role as Seema’s father and uncle. Kher’s characters are even more outrageous than Omi and Jai and are accompanied by even noisier sound effects. This isn’t my favorite performance by Kher.
Kapoor and Dubey, however, are very cute as Joseph and Josephine, a pair of single adults whose courtship is heartwarming. Their story could’ve been more thoroughly integrated into the main plot, but they are delightful every minute they are on screen.
Even during its darkest moments, Chashme Baddoor never gets too dark. When romances and friendships are at risk of falling apart, there’s always a sense that the relationships can be saved, because the characters are all good at heart. This is unapologetic light entertainment that succeeds because it maintains a carefree air throughout.