Baton Baton Mein (1979)
This was not the cheerful comedy that made a “Golmaal” or “Chupke Chupke”. It was a subtle story weaved around the daily life of people in Bombay, commuting to precise timings. Imagine a 9.10 ki local. Your day begins with the aim of not missing that 9.10 ki local. Of course, there is the luxury of taxi to please your lady love, or sometimes the indulgence of a bus; indulgence because time is precious in a city where everything revolves around catching something, train, bus or taxi, the life style most fastidious.
The film is set in times when mothers fretted over their daughters if they delayed getting married and settling down well in life; looking for wealthy grooms, marriage a top priority once the daughters found employment. Well, Rosie Perreira (Pearl Padamsee) is one such mother. She shall not rest until the petite Nancy (Tina Munim) finds her match. Nancy, spurned once and pursued again, this time by Henry (Uday Chandra), is not inclined to oblige her mother.
Heartbroken following a break up, Nancy steadfastly resists all proposals brought by Rosie’s brother and neighbour Tom (David) during their travel in the 9.10 ki local from Bandra to Churchgate. She also has to deal with a violin-obsessed brother Sabby (Ranjit Chowdhry), who misses no opportunity to indulge in banter around the search for a groom for Nancy.
At the other end is Tony Braganza’s dominant mother (Piloo Wadia), who will not allow her son to even wear clothes of his choice. His target is the 8.50 ki local but “mummy” orders the 9.10 ki gaadi.
The story takes off from the breakfast episodes of our protagonists. Nancy, Tony (Amol Palekar) and Tom rush through their busy morning schedule and get on to the 9.10 ki local only to launch a journey that shall culminate at a sweet destination. This comedy is an enjoyable ride which adopts a racy narration from the time Tony passes a piece of paper in a crowded train, introducing himself to the takla-buddha Tom. The first encounter endears Tony, an illustration artist to “uncle” Tom and life takes a new turn on the romantic 9.10 ki local.
Rosie’s demeanour when Tony comes home at the invitation of Tom is a brilliant portrayal of a mother’s concern. Tony draws a salary of Rs.300 because he is a probationer. Nancy gets home Rs.700. When Rosie learns that Tony would draw a salary of Rs.1000 on confirmation, she is not able to conceal her joy. The match is set as far as she is concerned. Nancy and Tony begin a courtship with “Suniye Kahiye Baton Baton Mein Pyar Ho Jayega” in the background setting the tone for a melodious journey that gathers momentum once Nancy takes a liking for Tony.
It is kind of ‘sealed’ as Tony joins the Perreira in a beautifully penned and crafted “Uthe Sab Ke Qadam Tara Ram Pam Pam”…. It is not a smooth journey though.
Tony and Nancy drift away at one point. Nancy is stubborn. Tony too. Tom is the catalyst working unstinted to “lock” them. “Kahan Tak Yeh Man Ko Andhere Chalenge” is a timely number that captures the essence of the two lovers, pining for each other but not willing to set aside their ego. They stop seeing each other. Even the 9.10 ki local is not part of the journey now.
A pep talk by Tony’s father (Arvind Deshpande) clears the young man’s mind. The courtship must culminate in marriage. It does only after Tony takes the step that makes him a man, as his father desires.
This was only Tina Munim’s second film after a stunning debut in “Des Pardes”. She is cute as ever. Amol Palekar is lovable as the obedient son. David wins your heart as uncle Tom, not to forget Ranjit Chowdhry with his inseparable violin. Pearl Padamsee is brilliant but your heart goes out to Henry, who professes his love to Nancy too late before joining in the joyful group picture.
This Basu Chatterjee offering, with some fine music by Rajesh Roshan, can be visited in times of distress. It surely lifts your spirit.
Director: Basu Chatterjee
Cast: Amol Palekhar, Tina Munim, Asrani, David, Leela Mishra, Pearl Padamsee, Arvind Deshpande, Piloo J. Wadia, Ranjit Chowdhry
Story: C. J. Pawari
Screenplay and dialogue: Basu Chatterjee
Music director: Rajesh Roshan
Lyricist: Yogesh and Amit Khanna
Box office status: Successful