Almost every Bollywood film has some comic element, whether it is humorous character, a funny storyline, or scene-after-scene of hilarious gags.
Last month, I featured 5 Comedies to Watch If You New To Bollywood which focused on humorous films that are fairly popular for kids of all ages and backgrounds.
This month, I want to share some "quirky" comedies that feature fairly unusual plotlines. These films take the concept of comedy in a slightly different direction from what one might expect from Bollywood. They are somewhat unconventional in the premise put forth in their storyline and, in some cases, the tales may be considered dark comedies. Each of these movies push the envelope on the comedy genre in Indian films.
If you are new to Bollywood, here are five quirky comedies which will tickle your funny bone in an unusual way.
1. Hera Pheri
Description: Baburao (Paresh Rawal) is a landlord in India, who is very near-sighted, and always in financial trouble. He has a tenant named Raja (Akshay Kumar), who has not paid his rent for several months. He also has anther tenant named Shyam (Suneil Shetty), who has come to the city to look for a job in his late father's place, but is unable to find employment. The three men quarrel amongst themselves frequently. Then one day, the three men get a phone call from a kidnapper named Kabira and decide to make use of this phone call to overcome their financial problems. They pretend to be the real kidnappers, increase the ransom amount, keep the incremental amount for themselves, and then give the original ransom demanded to Kabira. Will they get away with this idea?
Why I Love This Film: The dysfunctional dynamics among Baburao, Raja, and Shyam are entertaining enough, particularly with the constant setups and misunderstandings between Raja and Shyam. But when fate drops an opportunity into their laps, they develop a unique camaraderie. This is a cult comedy classic that stands the test of time because the characters are believable, fallable, and culpable.
Recognition: Paresh Rawal won a Screen Award for Best Comedian, IIFA Award for Best Comedian, Filmfare Award for Best Comedian, and Bollywood Movie Award for Best Comedian. Akshay Kumar won Bollywood Movie Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Description: Foursome friends Gopal (Ajay Devgn), Lucky (Tusshar Kapoor), Mahadev (Arshad Warsi) and Laxmi (Sharman Joshi) are aimless freeloaders who con people for fun and money. Due to their notorious acts, they are thrown out of their hostel and they have nowhere to go. They happen upon a bungalow which is occupied by an old blind couple, Somnath (Paresh Rawal) and Mangala (Sushmita Mukherjee). Pretending to be the blind couple's grandson returned from America, the foursome moves into the house with the only condition being that everyone, except for Gopal, would always remain silent. This bizarre premise creates a great deal of confusion for everyone involved.
Why I Love This Film: Besides conning the greater community around them, these four guys are constantly playing tricks on each other which does more to highlight their friendship than to harm it. The crazy scenario laid out is designed to invite some foolishness and it achieves its goal. One issue after another arises to create comic tension which eventually finds its release in an unexpected revelation. Side Note: Early in the film Arshad Warsi, who plays Circuit in the Munna Bhai series of films, does a spot-on impersonation of Sanjay Dutt. Which is hilarious.
3. Delhi Belly
Description: Delhi-based Sonia Mehra (Shenaz Treasurywala) agrees to deliver a package for Vladimir Dragunsky (Kim Bodnia) and asks her rather unkempt and debt-ridden fiancé, Tashi Malhotra (Imran Khan), to do it for her. Tashi, in turn, asks one of two of his room-mates, Nitin Berry (Kunaal Roy Kapur). But Nitin forgets to do so due to an upset stomach ailment commonly known as "Delhi Belly" and asks the third roommate Arup (Vir Das) to deliver the package. Meanwhile, the intended recipient of the package - the ruthless gangster Somayajulu (Vijay Raaz) - finds out that the package is in the possession of the trio.
Why I Love This Film: This is a dark comedy. There is a great deal of foul language, plenty of scatological humor, and violence that Quentin Tarantino would be proud of. But the rawness of this film contributes to the brilliance of the story. These are three guys, just trying to get by in bustling Delhi, who find themselves getting deeper and deeper into a situation that gets more dangerous by the moment. Yet, the banter and repartee among the characters is what adds the humor and the heart to this story. Filmed on the streets of Delhi with a modern sensibility, this comedy is an entertaining departure from your standard Bollywood flick.
Recognition: The film won three Filmfare Awards (Best Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Production Design) and four Colors Screen Awards (Screen Award for Best Screenplay, Best Story, Best Editing, Best Production Design).
4. Bol Bachchan
Description: When their ancestral home is taken from them, Abbas Ali (Abhishek Bachchan) and his sister Sania (Asin Thottumkal) move from Chandni Chowk, Delhi to the village of Ranakpur in Rajasthan. Abbas Ali breaks a temple lock to rescue a drowning child and finds that he has stepped in the middle of a family feud. To prevent retribution, Abbas' friend Ravi (Krishna Abhishek) begins a series of lies which soon spirals out of control when Abbas is taken under the wing of the powerful but kind-hearted Prithviraj Raghuvanshi (Ajay Devgn) who just so happens to hate lies and liars.
Why I Love This Film: Abhishek Bachchan's "double" role is great fun in this story and generates both laughter and cheers. Ajay Devgn's Prithviraj thinks with his heart, not with his mind, tossing out phrases like "hard work is the keyhole to saxophone" and "every penny discounts" and "Happy Birthright to you!" Prithviraj is sincere and confident in his friendship with Abbas and they make an awesome dynamic duo when they have to face the opposing clan. Finally, as a Rohit Shetty film the goal is pure entertainment - so the action is big, the comedy broad, and the pathos deep.
Recognition: Abhishek Bachchan won several awards for his performance including Screen Award for Best Comedian, Stardust Award for Best Actor (Comedy/Romance), Zee Cine Award for Best Actor in a Comic Role, and Big Star Entertainment Award for Best Actor in a Comedy.
5. Go Goa Gone
Description: Dope heads Hardik (Kunal Khemu) and Luv (Vir Das) tag along to Goa with their best buddy, Bunny (Anand Tiwari), on his business trip. They meet a free-spirited girl, Luna (Puja Gupta) who invites them to an exclusive underground rave party on a remote island. After a night of partying, the boys wake up to find the island infested with zombies. As they try to escape they cross paths with Russian mafioso and zombie slayer Boris (Saif Ali Khan).
Why I Love This Film: The first of its kind - a Bollywood Zombie Comedy. A ZomCom! That basically says it all. The story is somewhat predictable and the film has similar sensibilities as Delhi Belly so sometimes the language is raw and the action gory. But this film offers many different and humorous encounters with zombies and others on the island that make it a unique entertainer.
Not sure which film to watch first? The following playlist includes trailers or scenes from each of these comedies.
If you liked this, check out our other Friday Five posts.