“The script demands it!”- The parody as a parody of a parody


Last Friday night* I saw the funniest Hindi movie of all time. Our TV has taken a break from showing anything that we would like to see. So, Friday night, Mom decided to catch a Hindi movie on DD1 (what else?) She called me for dinner. When I was trying to eat, some chorus from the TV distracted me. When I paid some attention, I heard this song bleating out to 80s disco music:

Dilli ki billi, Bambai ka chuha,
Kuch nah kuch hua (3, 4, 5, 6, 7…. times)

Having decided to stay on, I was not disappointed. My only regret: I couldn’t catch the name of the movie. All I could recognise in it was the villain Alok Nath who played it to the hilt with caricaturish aplomb. I think I saw some NSD actors in the movie. It was obviously a film made on a shoestring budget. But what I found amazing was the use of almost all theatrical devices and clichés. Who says clichés don’t make a film? At every point, the characters exchanged repartee about and on the clichés that bind them. I am reminded of Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author at this point.

But as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself: the story first. The story itself is at once familiar and yet different. Two brothers, Harsh and Sargam, make their living by singing. They are classically trained singers who have been forced to prostitute their singing talent for mega bucks by their manager and uncle, Mamaji. Harsha and Sargam feel stifled both creatively and financially. One day, when they are asked to sing:

Jingi la la jingi la la
Pom pom, ping ping
Jhinka chiki jhinka chiki
I am the disco king!

they decide that this is the last straw. A plan to run away to lead the life they want to is hatched. However, they still don’t want to hurt their Mamaji so they leave a note promising to come back after one month, along with some health advice. (Aap kuch zaroorath se zyada mote hain, it says. Literally translated, it means, you are unnecessarily fat.)

Since Harsh and Sargam are very famous singers who have taken the country by storm, an evil genius who always dresses in black , exhibits a Technicolor effect on his face when he gets angry and is called Dr. Yes plans on kidnapping them for ransom. On the night that the kidnapping is to take place, Harsh and Sargam decide to run away. Dr. Yes finds the note and substitutes it with his own ransom note. Harsh and Sargam do manage to get away after accidentally hitching a ride with Dr.Yes’s own chauffer, Kaddu. (Kaddu means pumpkin in Hindi.) They reach a peaceful hamlet singing songs on the way. If the heroes are singing songs, can the heroines be far behind? Rita and Anita spot Harsh and Sargam and take them into their house and life. The wholesome picture is completed when they are joined by Rita and Anita’s treasure hunting Dad and an over-studious bloke – who lost his fuse – called Chottu.

Mamaji, angry at having been cheated out of his millions, calls the police. In a moment of filmi realisation, one sees the entire police force sprawled over Mamaji’s drawing room, not the least bit bothered. They only rush to the telephone when the ransom call comes through. Dr. Yes plans to plant two guys who look like Harsh and Sargam after Mamaji hands over the ransom money. Let’s call them H & S #2. Mamaji in the meanwhile has the same plan of substituting H & S #3 with Harsh and Sargam, the original pair. H & S #3 are dutifully taught to shake their booty while Mamaji plays recorded music. This is Mamaji’s plan to continue earning his millions.

Harsh and Sargam in the meanwhile are surprised that a concert is happening without them. They decide to investigate by landing up at the concert. For the ransom exchange, Dr. Yes and his cronies also land up at the same concert. In short, the public is asked to choose whom they consider to be the real Harsh and Sargam. Harsh and Sargam #3 sing a distorted version of rap and rock combined and are voted out. A rather effeminate H & S #2 do some dhinchak disco and are voted to be the real pair. Harsh and Sargam in the meantime become unrecognisable to their own audience because they have changed their style of music to something more soulful than the pop hit Dilli ki billi.

Sometime earlier, the evil Dr. Yes is shown to be a closet artist (flautist) who was forced into the criminal way of life thanks to his rather strict disciplinarian father who hated all things artistic.

When Harsh and Sargam (the real deal) and Dr. Yes are arrested and jailed, in a twist of plot, bond with each other over their shared love of the flute. A couple of plot turns later, each more improbable than the one before, Harsh, Sargam, Rita, and Anita, Chottu, and Dr. Yes – all dressed in white – sing and dance the multi-instrument, multi-cultural harmony song.

There are several issues that the movie explores. The first and most obvious one is its status as a movie. Can we call it a metamovie? (Akin to Metafiction.) During the mandatory dress-exchange routine between H & S #2 and Harsh and Sargam Sargam asks why should he changes clothes with his lookalike? Harsh’s replies, “The script demands it!” There are many things that the script demands. Some are improbable; most are impossible, yet all are finally seen.

In another scene Rita starts crying because she wants the camera to be trained on her and not on the villain who has tied her up. “Apni footage kha raha hai!” she screams at Anita.

This movie can be read as a parody of Hindi film clichés.

  • Two heroines find two heroes in a forest. (Shades of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream?)
  • The evil guy wears black till the last scene when he becomes good and wears white.
  • The police walk in after the action is over.
  • The deadlock at the end of the movie (the characters are appropriately seen moving a circle each one threatening the other in front with a gun) is removed by the god-like narrator’s voice intervening and telling the characters what to do. Definetly, deux ex machina at play.
  • The only music director seen is made to look alike Bappi Lahiri complete with gold chains, white outfit and shades.
  • The villain’s face changes colour in a comic-book fashion to show his emotion.

What redeems the movie are the issues and themes it considers.

  1. The true artist cannot be evil: Dr. Yes was not presented as an artist in the beginning of the movie. But the moment he appreciated and embraces art, he is redeemed and we know he is a good man. Mamaji, the author of those inane lyrics, is the real bad guy.
  2. The use of clichés and parody to parody clichés. The police are seen reading a manual called Police Behaviour Manual for Hindi Film Climaxes by Prof. M.V. Desai. One character quotes section 49, which says, “No police can or should intervene unless and until all the action is over.” (A clever take on the police in Hindi movies.)
  3. The use of the God-like narrator’s voice. When the actors are challenged beyond their capacity, God intervenes. (Shades of Greek theatre?)
  4. The non-replicability of true art: True art cannot be replicated. Art is original and will need original voices to express it. H & S #2 and #3 may look like Harsh and Sargam but can never sound like them.
  5. The madman as the resuer: Rita and Anita’s Dad, the man considered mad and Chottu are the ones who do some brave work. Rita and Anita’s dad breaks the deadlock by invoking God. Chottu carries out dangerous errands on enemy territory.
  6. Music (Sargam) and happiness (Harsh) as two sides of the same coin. One cannot be without the other.

All in all, I’m never going to forget this movie. Oh, I wish I had seen the beginning and at least seen the name of the movie.


* Friday the 25th of November, 2005.


35 thoughts on ““The script demands it!”- The parody as a parody of a parody

  1. Wow! How do you manage to catch such fundoo movies? It does sound like a spoof on the regular hindi movies. Oops! Sorry. I forgot, it has shades of metafiction, a Shakespearean play and Greek plays as well.
    Phew! That’s quite a handful! 😀

  2. I didnt know such movies even existed. dhilli ki bhilli…ouch indeed!
    Looks like you really enjoyed the movie.*big grin*

  3. “Jingi la la jingi la la
    Pom pom, ping ping
    Jhinka chiki jhinka chiki
    I am the disco king! “
    rotfl!! i can see why it might have been the last straw. very interesting movie. would love to watch it. 😀

  4. Hey! I have seen this one AFJ..Oops..I cannot remember the name of the movie..damn..Im banging my head..but if the name strikes me, I sure would let you know 🙂

  5. Rita: Yes, it is quite a handfull!

    Zee: Yeah, I totally enjoyed it. I was rolling on the floor laughing!

    Mru: I’d like to add what you said. DD shows some quirky stuff as well!

    Vee: I agree!

    Naveen: You HAVE seen this movie????? Will you please please let me know the name once it strikes you? Thanks so much!

  6. Soumyadip: I’m glad you love them too! I usually am rolling on the floor laughing my head off!

    Dan: Thanks for coming by! I hope to see you again!

  7. Hi, I think I can help you on this one. The name of the movie is ‘Sur Asur’, it was a movie made for DD around 10-12 years ago(if not more). One thing that I distinctly remember about this genuinely funny movie is that the villain was very fond of playing the flute, and always used to play the Hero tune. Then, we discover one fine day that it was actually the cassette of Hero playing on a Tape Recorder, and he was just play-acting in front of his gang!

    btw, first time visitor, came thru tcp.

  8. yeah yeah yeah i vaguely recollect this one. But nothing beats my all time favourite Shivraam 🙂 The description was brilliant. Thank you thank you on a tired wednesday evening.

  9. lol…aren’t they fun!!! Now that we have dozens of channels airing loads of crap, it is the right time for DD to re-establish its reign…yeah.I suppose ppl are catching up with that too!


  10. Obi Wan/Anurag: Thankssssss so much! I have no words to thank you! This is such a surprise! Was it made 10-12 years ago? It definetly looked mid to late 80s or early 90s. Alok Nath is the villian with the flute and he looked very young.

    Thanks for dropping by. I hope to see you again and again.

    TCP: Thank you! I had a great time writing it too!

  11. AquaM: That’s true. Many channels, loads of unwanted stuff. DD should reinvent or just be as it is. After a few years, I’m sure some people might be interested in it- as an antique!! He he

  12. This movie sounds amazing. I must see it! I would also like to help write a few more books for the series intitiated by Police Behaviour Manual for Hindi Film Climaxes, such as Dos and Donts for Johny Lever or Love-Triangle Loser: How to Bow Out Gracefully.

  13. Hey Beth, thanks for coming by! Oh yes! This is a gem of a movie. I wish it was available in the market! I would have sent you a copy!

  14. I had seen the movie about 15 years ago on DD. Yes the name of the movie is Sur Asur and if you saw the song Dilli ki billi … You didnt miss much of the movie.

    I have been famous in my friend circle raving about this movie no body heard about.

    If anyone has any idea how to get hold of the movie – please email me at manishpk@yahoo.com

    Quotes I remember from the movie:

    “Main main hoon” (after Harsh removes his mole to show his real identity)

    “Boss Gusse se laal pile ho rahe hain”

    “Mere Khunnas ke jungle mein daya ki koi sadak nahin”

  15. Remembered the song …

    Haal Chaal Dheel Dhaal
    Bol Chaal Gol Maal
    Jeet Kar Haar kar
    Maar kar Pyar Kar
    Bombay Poona
    Kaththa Chuna
    Nagpur Kanpur
    Sur Asur
    Dilli ki billi
    Bombay ka chuha
    Kuch na kuch hua
    Aouu! Aouu!

    Feel good to know that my memory hasnt failed me even at my age 🙂

  16. One more thing
    The winning song of the three H&S Competition:

    We are the real ones -2
    Asli hain hum
    Humko Apna lo


  17. You’ve gotta be kidding me!!! First I laughed for almost half an hour reading the re-view!!! 😀 And the another half an hour, reading the comments!!!

    Sur Asur… I really gotta check out the movie!!!

    I guess, the world needs DD!!! 😀

  18. Heyy Shiv, thank ye thank ye! I was laughing too when I saw it the first and only time. I wonder where we can get such movies? Haha, the world does need DD because it gives us the much needed comic relief! 😛

  19. The heores of the movie were Rohan Kapoor and Vinay Sapru. Alok Nath in a negative role. The director was Subroto Bose.

  20. Thank God I found your blog. I was flipping through channels on Saturday and somehow stopped on DD. I just caught the last half hour of the movie, but enjoyed it a lot. Unfortunately there was no name and even the DD website listed it as “Saturday Special”. Entered random words and found your blog. I’m glad the name’s mentioned here. I can sleep in peace now.
    Gotta watch the full movie, hope I can find it somewhere.

  21. Great.. I have seen this movie when I was a child. I was searching for this song for long. I am also searching for the song -Bheek disco- Paisa de paisa babu paise wale, ek sao ka note nikal kar kar dey mere hawale, in which Prem Chopra danced on streets . Can anyone share the film name?

  22. the name of this movie is sur-asur. Today also it was shown on dd india. It keeps repeating on dd india. U may catch it again sometime in near future. It stars rohan kapoor, vinay sapru, jaya mathur, aloknath and shail chaturvedi as mamaji. Really a wonderful movie ,has a song with great lyrics…sab thaath dhara rah jayega.

    1. Oh my god Bikrant! This is such a brilliant find! Need I say it was posted waaaay after I wrote this post. Thank you so much!

  23. Moushumi: Thank you for this fantastic post, I wouldn’t have known about this very underrated film otherwise (I especially liked the point you make regaRding the parallel with the greek theatre…the deus ex machina trope is such an important part of our masala films) . BTW not sure if you are aware, but some kind soul has uploaded the entire film on youtube (here is the link https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5OsoCzirPlA ).

    This is as good an example of “nonsense comedy” ( which imo is very different from a silly comedy, here there is a thought behind all the nonsense) one can find in Hindi cinema. Incidentally a very fine comedy (though it turns a little serious in the second half) which also spoofs many of the regular Bollywood tropes is “Tunnu ki Tina”.

    But thank you again. This was such a lovely “trifle” of a film.

    1. Kid (Please tell me this is not your real name!), apologies for the delayed reply. You are most welcome! Indeed, the deus ex machina trope is all over our masala films. I was not aware that the whole film is now available on YouTube. Thanks for that! Don’t you think it should be made mandatory viewing for film courses?

      I am beginning to see what you mean by nonsense comedy and silly comedy and the difference between the both. Have you put down your thoughts anywhere that I can read them?

Let me know what you think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s