Monday evening review: #Throwback to Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958)

A fancy race-car, three brothers and a murder – seem like the elements of another John Grisham novel, don’t they? Relax. This is about something fun, entertaining and ageless.

Allow me to take you back into an era where greenery was indeed a more than a luxury and where films were truly the work of an artist.

Chalti Naam Gaadi, released in the year 1959, was one such example. Directed by Satyen Bose, the movie is still popular among many people, especially for its evergreen music that was composed by Saching Dev Burman (aka S D Burman).

What was the story about?

Brijmohan (aka Bada Bhaiyya), Jagmohan (aka Jaggu) and Manmohan (aka Mannu) are three brothers who can’t seem to live without each other. Together, they manage an automobile workshop called ‘Mohan Garage’. Brij is not only the main manager of the workshop but is also a father-figure to his younger brothers and a former boxing champion. Then again, he expresses a certain dislike towards women. Jaggu is an electrical engineer who does not seem to confident about his skills while Mannu enjoys being the happy-go-lucky person.

One rainy evening, a lady named Renu had knocked on the door of the garage post the brothers’ working hours. Soaked and worried, Renu asked Mannu (who was awake) if he could fix her car that had stopped running. After a lot of debate, Mannu agrees to do so. Things tooks a turn, when Mannu realised that the customer was unlike the others. However, Renu had forgotten to pay him for his services.

Compelled by his elder brothers, Mannu decides to track down Renu and collect his earnings. But the attempt had failed in a most hilarious manner.

As he was returning to his garage after the rather unusual incident, Mannu noticed a group of people dumping a corpse in the middle of the road, which was eventually picked-up by the cops.

Shocked, Mannu continues to walk back to his destination and narrated the incident to his brothers. What happens next, is a fun yet interesting tale of unexpected twists.

Why do I love it?

Let me remind you that Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi was shot in 1959! Those were the days when digital film making seemed like a distant dream to many. Every aspect of the movie – including the sets, make-up and even the voices of the actors – played a crucial role. There was clearly no room for the ‘cut, copy and paste’ technique.

Yet, it is still by far the most beautiful movies ever made. The plot may be predictable. But the film’s pace was faster than many modern day movies or apparent comedies like ‘Bewakoofiyaan’ starring Sonam Kapoor and Ayushman Khuranna.

What caught my attention was the music. Having listened to these songs while growing up, these evergreen soundtracks can bring a smile on my face at any point in time. The joy of listening to music that was recorded live without any technology altering the many audio levels is priceless!

An occasional dose of excessive-drama

Well, drama has been a quintessential part of film-making. While this movie does appear to be a play recorded on a strip of film, some parts of it are more dramatic than required. Perhaps, this movie did inspire the current generation of film-makers to be more dramatic as well (even if the dialogues were repeated verbactim!).

A charming lead cast

With stalwarts like Ashok Kumar, Kishor Kumar and Madhubala on screen, you wonder if Indian cinema would ever produce movies that could be this charming even after a period of over 60 years! It is amazing to see how the actors’ facial expressions, voice modulation and body language conveyed the mood of each scene effectively.

My take

I would recommend this movie to anybody who wishes to truly understand and appreciate the joy of film-making. It is worth a watch or more.