Comedy films are considered ‘family films’ in India. No points for guessing that they do exceptionally well at the box-office. So much so, romantic and comedy films pegged evenly in the popularity charts. While the comedy films today are mostly ‘escapist’ in nature, some old gems from back in the day boasted of impeccable story lines. Nevertheless, there are good comedy films made even today. We’ve made a list of the 20 funniest films from Bollywood history. Watch any of these and we guarantee ticklish ribs and hysterical laughter for sure. Let belly aches begin!
10. Hungama (2003)/ Director – Priyadarshan
The story of a bunch of misfits whose misconception about each others backgrounds end up in a series of chaotic, yet comic outcomes. Aftab and Rimi play two strangers who have to pretend that are a married couple in order to get a place to live. Paresh Rawal plays a rich, yet ground to earth businessman whose business is named after his wife Anjali. Akshaye Khanna plays a young man starting a new business in electronic ware. Things get complicated when Rimi Sen goes to Paresh Rawal’s house in search of a job & meets Akshaye Khanna who falls in love with her thinking she is Paresh Rawal’s daughter. Paresh Rawal’s wife thinks that he is having an affair with Rimi Sen & while Paresh Rawal thinks his wife is having an affair with Akshaye Khanna due to Rimi Sen and her having the same name. Then comes in Shakti Kapoor whose daughter falls in love with a guy pretending to be Paresh Rawal’s son and soon everything gets out of control
09. Raja Babu (1994)/ Director – David Dhawan
David Dhawan hit it big with dramas like Swarg and Shola Aur Shabnam in the 1990s but found his niche in slapstick. Aankhen was his first major hit, but with Raja Babu, he got into full-fledged populist comedies. The plots (however preposterous) were often refashioned from Southern hits and there was always the reliably gabby charms of Govinda to turn it into comic gold. The two had already worked together and by the time of Raja Babu, you can see that they had arrived at a comfort level enjoyed by frequent collaborators. Govinda is a good mix of Dilip Kumar and Shammi Kapoor, but less sophisticated than them. Viewers, in fact, can spot the influence of Dilip Kumar on the Khans who appropriated the romantic aspects of Dilip Kumar. By contrast, Govinda picked up the Bhojpuri nuances from the Tragedy King. In Raja Babu, Dilip Kumar bears heavily on Govinda’s acting style. Call it mindless or mediocre, the film walks the tight rope between comedy and melodrama, blending Dhawan’s penchant for sappy plots with silly humour. The best scenes involve Raja (Govinda) and sidekick Nandu’s (Shakti Kapoor) crackling chemistry. Trust Shakti Kapoor to come up with strange accents and stranger get-ups. Their exclusive pastime includes hiring a small-time theater to watch an Amitabh Bachchan actioner and generally, gallivanting around on a flashy bike (matched to Govinda’s colourful costumes), Nandu faithfully holding the umbrella for his boss from the backseat. Raja Babu makes high art of low humour.
08. Chupke Chupke (1975)/Director – Hrishikesh Mukherjee
Sweeping generalisations never did anybody any favours. A single stroke and even the most talented of artistes are reduced to a mere prisoner of image. It happened to Amitabh Bachchan. It happened to Dharmendra. The astounding success of G.P Sippy’s “Sholay” reduced them to only Jai and Veeru in the minds of the common man. Worse, even the filmmakers fell into that image trap. And Bachchan was to be forever typecast as the angry young man. Dharmendra became the He-man! The loss was cinegoers’ alone, as both Bachchan and Dharmendra were incredibly gifted artistes who were seldom provided an opportunity to step beyond the trite, the trusted. One look at Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s “Chupke Chupke” that released the same year as “Sholay” and you would know how heavy a price many had to pay for the success of Sippy’s blockbuster.
07. Andaz Apna Apna (1994)/Director – Rajkumar Santoshi
Summarising this Rajkumar Santoshi con caper in terms of a linear storyline is like explaining how Aamir Khan scored that goal for Mohan Bagan using sherbet glasses. One of the drinks is spiked and he’s just got his memory back. To add to the confusion, either the goal was highly strategic or – this is more likely – he’s making the shit up. Aamir plays the ne’er-do-well Amar to Salman Khan’s bumbling Prem. Obviously, Paresh Rawal aka Teja dismisses them as “filmy and slackers.” From the start, when you first meet them as imposters in an endless round of one-upmanship trying to outwit each other, it becomes evident that this journey is not going to end well for them. But it does. (One loser tempts away a millionaire’s daughter) And along the way it’s nothing but a complete laugh-riot. AAA clearly belongs to the quick-talking Aamir, perhaps because he was given a central role for being a bigger star at the time but it’s incomplete without the collective madness of Salman Khan, Shakti Kapoor, Raveena Tandon, Karisma Kapoor, Mehmood (his Wah Wah Productions’ gag is a homage to Pyar Kiye Jaa), Jagdeep and Paresh Rawal in a double role, creating further confusion about who is the real Teja. (He’s the one with a mark on his cheek).
06. Munnabhai M.B.B.S (2003)/Director – Rajkumar Hirani
Munna bhai(here gangster) has been lying to his parents over the years that he is a M.B.B.S doctor. His parents visit him, where they are bluffed. His parents take his invitation for marriage to a real Doctor’s daughter where both of them are Doctor. This is when his parents find out their son is a gangster. Now Munna wants to take revenge, so he takes admission into best medical college of Mumbai. There he finds the ones who insulted and rejected his parents were present there itself. Now he wants to get married to the daughter of doctor who rejected him. He tries to find out about her. He creates a pleasant atmosphere for all the patients and doctors. He talks about jadoo ki jhapi which he learnt from his mother. Dr Asthana who insulted his parents, still wants him out of his college. His daughter Chinki slowly falls for him. People admitted and others think of him as a magician who can cure anybody. He cures a parsi doctors father, gives hope to a cancer patient, makes up mind of a young man who tried to commit suicide, he cures a patient who according to medical knowledge is impossible to happen.Finally after all this his dad accepts him and says ‘tune to sabko jeena sikha diya’. It is shown gradually he gets married to chinky and the movie ends on a positive note.
5. Padosan (1968)/Director – Jyoti Swaroop
The title “Padosan” (girl next-door) brings a smile to every face. Produced by Mahmood Ali and N.C. Sippy, the film is one of the best entertainers of all times. Director Jyoti Swaroop, who had limited success with films like “Bin Badal Barsaat”, “Parwana” etc., was at his brilliant best in this film. Rajinder Kishan, better known as a lyricist and dialogue writer, penned the screenplay. R.D. Burman’s hit music gave us all-time great songs like “Mere Samne Wali Khidki Mein” (Kishore Kumar) and “Ek Chatur Naar Karke Singaar” (Manna Dey and Kishore Kumar) not to forget “Main Chali Main Chali”, “Sharm Aati Hai Magar”, “Bhai Batur” (all Lata Mangeshkar), “Bindu Re Bindu” and “Kahna Hai Tumse Ye Pahli Baar” (both Kishore Kumar).
“Padosan” is based on a Bengali story, ‘Pasher bari’ (next-door neighbour) written by Arun Chowdhury and adapted in Bengali in 1952, in Telugu as “Pakkinti Ammayi” in 1953, in Tamil as “Adutta Veetu Penn” in 1960 and again in Telugu as “Pakkinti Ammayi” in 1981. The Hindi film was made in 1968.
04. Chachi 420 (1997)/Director – Kamal Haasan
So far Chachi 420 has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. First producer Kamalahasan fired director Shantanu Sheorey and the two former friends accused each other of incompetence in reams of newsprint. Then actress Ashwini Bhave stomped out complaining that she had been ill-treated. And finally a slew of articles appeared alleging that Kamalahasan was a control freak who concentrated only on himself. The good news is that all the heartburn didn’t affect the final product. Chachi 420 is an exuberant entertainer.
Kamalahasan makes his directorial debut by default – he was forced to take up the reins after Sheorey left. But he expertly juggles his duties as director-producer-scriptwriter with inch-thick make-up, shaved legs and foam breasts, creating the outrageously funny desi Mrs Doubtfire. Chachi is sparklingly well-written and enacted. Gulzar’s dialogue has wit and vitality. It’s a more genteel, charming comedy, quite unlike the standard Bollywood slapstick. And the characters are perfectly cast: Amrish Puri as the rich, scheming father who falls in love with Chachi; Om Puri as his married-to-his-cellphone assistant; Paresh Rawal as the Gujarati landlord who also wants Chachi; and Johnny Walker making a comeback as a drunk make-up artist.
But like most Kamalahasan movies, Chachi 420 is primarily a showcase for the star. Like in Hindustani, some scenes seem inserted merely to display his multifarious talents. Tabu looks ethereal but is forced to play the film’s most ill-defined character. The other heroine, Ayesha Jhulka, barely registers. But these are minor quibbles. Chachi 420 is vigorous fun. Kamalahasan take a bow.
03. 3 Idiots (2009)/Director – Rajkumar Hirani
Rest assured, all ye desi cinema buffs, Aal Izz Well in apna Bollywood. If 2009 can begin with Dev D and end with 3 Idiots, it is indeed time to sound the seetis and taalis for one of the most exciting years of contemporary Indian cinema. Truly, this has been the year of the I.d.i.o.t in movielore: the Intrinsically intelligent, Downright smart, Inimitable, Original and Talented film maker, actor, story teller, musician, lyricist, dialogue writer and producer.
3 Idiots is the perfect end to an exciting year for India: the year when the aam aadmi voted in progress, liberalism, secularism and turned his back to corruption, communalism, regionalism. The three idiots, Rancchoddas Shyamaldas Chanchad (Aamir Khan), Raju Rastogi (Sharman Joshi) and Farhan Qureshi (R Madhavan), are perfect archetypes of the new age Indian who is essentially a non-conformist, questioning outmoded givens, choosing to live life on his own terms and chartering new roads that consciously skirt the rat race. Of course, they begin on the beaten track — due to societal/parental pressure — but refuse to become cogs in the wheel. Naturally, they end up as the Frostian hero (Robert Frost’s Road Not Taken) who made all the difference to his life, and the world, by taking the road less travelled by.
Inspiration: Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone literally comes alive on screen, although the film does not kowtow the book verbatim.
02. Chup chup ke ( 2006)/Director – Priyadarshan
Priyadarshan is a brand. Although the accomplished storyteller has tackled various genres in the past, somehow, the very mention of his name on billboards conjures images of a film that promises loads of laughter.
Priyan’s new endeavor, CHUP CHUP KE, also follows the same route that his earlier films embarked upon. Sure, the film is a laugh-riot, in the first hour at least. But a strong and gripping drama, so vital to balance the proceedings, keeps you equally riveted in the post-interval portions.
HUP CHUP KE works, and works big time primarily because Priyan balances the two extremes — comedy and drama — with gusto. Of course, there’s no denying that the comic portions leave a stronger impact, but the emotional quotient in the penultimate 30 minutes of the enterprise also takes the film to an all-time high.
01. Hera Pheri (2000)/Director – Priyadarshan
Director Priyadarshan breathes enough confusion and chaos in this multi-starrer to keep the audience in splits. Writers Neeraj Vora and Siddique-Lal amp up the density of comic possibilities by introducing ever newer characters and no resolution in sight. Enter Khadak Singh (Om Puri’s hilarious Punjabi), the stranger who comes looking for a certain Shyam (Suniel Shetty). This sets the plot rolling. Shyam, along with Baburao Apte (Paresh Rawal) and his tenant Raju (Akshay Kumar) have to act swiftly to return Khadak Singh’s money. Throw in a side plot involving a wrong phone call and a kidnapping and you know you are hurtling towards a typical Priyadarshan climax full of confusion and deception. Call it a 1970s influence, if you will, a Priyadarshan climax brings together literally the entire cast in a game of cat and mouse. He’s our last showman in that sense. It’s often mistaken that Priyadarshan made Hera Pheri at his peak as a comic director. In fact, it’s among his earliest Hindi comedies and it set the tone for what this Malayalam filmmaker’s Bollywood career would look like. The film, led by a side-splitting Paresh Rawal, Akshay Kumar and Om Puri, is more than feel-good. It’s feel-better!