She was the sweet girl next door, a nice, goody-goody, doe-eyed beauty with a smile that could light up a room. She was the kind of girl we’d love to bring home to meet Mom. For many of us who came of age in the early eighties, Deepti Naval was Miss Right.
To me, she will always be Miss Chamko.
Her birthday was February 3rd, and I thought a little personal tribute to this extremely talented, yet under-rated actress was called for.
In an era dominated by bold, sensuous women like Zeenat Aman, Reena Roy and Parveen Babi, Deepti Naval carved a special niche for herself as a sensitive and versatile actress. In mainline cinema, she became popular in light romantic comedies like Chashme Buddoor, Katha, Kissise na kehena and Rang Birangi. At the same time, she excelled in parallel cinema, in critically-acclaimed movies like Ek baar phir, Damul, Ankahee and Saath Saath.
I fell in love with Miss Chamko the day I saw her in Chashme Buddoor. Released in 1981, I missed this movie’s first run, but caught it when it was re-run in 1984. It was running at only one theater, Chandan Talkies in Juhu, and every day for a whole week, I’d catch bus no 255 Ltd from Sion to Juhu, to see the noon show.
Directed by Sai Paranjpe, Chasme Buddoor was a cute little comedy about three young men wooing the same girl. Unlike other movies of that age, that were usually filmed in Bombay, the movie was largely shot in the Delhi University campus. New Delhi in the 1980’s was very different from the nightmarish metropolis it has become today.
Chashme Budoor had memorable cameo appearances by leading stars, including a funny one-minute scene with Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha, and Saeed Jaffrey as the mildly sarcastic Lallan Miyan, the long-suffering panwallah on the campus, who keeps extending credit to the three young men and never gets paid. Another popular actor of the time, Vinod Nagpal, better known as Basesar Ram of India’s first TV serial Hum Log, appeared in two classical song numbers as Deepti Naval’s music teacher.
The movie made a hit pair out of Farooque Shaikh and Deepti Naval, and they went on to co-star in several other light romantic movies.
By modern social mores, Chashme Budoor had several politically incorrect scenes showing chain-smoking, but in the eighties, smoking was considered cool.
In spite of its low budget and a generally unknown star cast, Chashme Budoor was a major hit. It had a good story, songs that were well composed and beautifully picturised, and lots of light humor that did not insult the viewers’ intelligence, unlike the low-grade, below-the-waist, crass comedies that we are inflicted with these days.
Chashme Budoor is perhaps the only Bollywood movie that ‘inspired’ a movie in Hollywood! Saving Silverman, a light romantic comedy distributed by Columbia Pictures in 2001, had the same basic storyline of Chashme Buddoor.
Here’s the Chamko episode from Chashme Buddoor, my favorite scene from the movie. Even today, when I watch Deepti Naval in this scene, I still heave a deep yearning sigh.
Happy Birthday, Miss Chamko. Chashme budoor!
Cheers … Srini.