Chori Mera Kaam (1975)

Actor Shashi Kapoor   | Photo Credit: STAFF

Comedy in Hindi cinema kept evolving with passage of time, from silent to boisterous, from Gope to Johnny Walker to Mehmood, before subtle humour arrived to signal maturity of the medium. Films devoted to this genre had a niche audience and the emphasis on variety meant one could look forward to some quality work in different eras.

There was a time when the leading actors of the day dreaded to share the screen presence with comic stars like Johnny Walker and Mehmood. Such was their appeal that fans would often confirm if the cast included these two names. They appealed more than the leading pair of the movie. Mehmood and Johnny Walker were tickets to success at the box office.

Comedy assumed a touch of class in the 70s and early 80s when movies like “Chupke Chupke”, “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron”, “Angoor”, “Chashme Badoor”, “Guddi”, “Khubsoorat”, “Golmaal”, “Do Aur Do Panch” gave the audience rich fare. There was a welcome departure from the boy chasing a girl routine, the hero, heroine and villain brand. Comedy and comedians also brought a dedicated audience and filmmakers were tempted to flirt with this style of movie.

Among the many comic actors in the last four decades, Rajendra Nath never rose above the slapstick style. Asrani made most of the situational comedy after Johnny Walker and Mehmood bowed to age. But Deven Verma, who passed away recently, made a signal contribution with his poker-faced stuff, rarely a butt of ridicule, often holding his own when sharing the screen with some of the notable stalwarts of the industry.

Deven Verma was considered a versatile actor. His theatre background enabled him to slip into his roles with ease. He made an impact with a negative role in “Devar” but soon realised that his future lay in playing comic roles. That he worked with some of the finest directors proved his repertoire. He was so impressive in films like “Dhund”, “Buddha Mil Gaya”, “Khamoshi” and was at his best in “Chori Mera Kaam”, which fetched him his first Filmfare Award. He won the honours later for “Angoor” too.

Genre: Comedy
Director: Brij
Cast:Ashok Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Zeenat Aman, Pran, Anwar Hussain, David Abraham, Deven Verma, Iftikhar, Raza Murad, Anoop Kumar
Story and screenplay: K.A. Narayan
Dialogues: Ehsan Rizvi
Lyrics: Verma Malik
Music director: Kalyanji-Anandji
Box office status: Hit
Trivia: Deven Verma won is first Filmfare Best Comedian Award

“Chori Mera Kaam” was an ordinary movie. The cast included Ashok Kumar and Pran, Iftikhar and Anwar Hussain, all with experience of having played comic roles. The romantic pair of Shashi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman added glamour and fun. But it was a Deven Verma film all the way.

Playing Pravinbhai Patel, a Gujarati publisher, he is the central figure of a plot where Bhola Nath (Shashi Kapoor) and Sharmili (Zeenat Aman) are petty thieves who stumble upon the manuscript of a how-to-do-it guide on stealing. The two con Pravinbhai into believing that he had run over Sharmili. Bhola Nath strikes a deal to stay quiet, Pravinbhai gets sucked into the trap, and the story takes off on a racy journey after Sharmili is ‘buried’ in a cemetery in Borivali.

Pran is Samadh Kumar, a police officer on the trail of a gangster Amarchand (Anwar Hussain). Bhola, the long lost son of the police officer, grows into a petty thief and comes in contact with Shankar (Ashok Kumar), the author of the manuscript, which, when published by Pravinbhai under compulsion of a blackmailing Bhola, becomes a best seller. The complicated narration brings together all the characters of the story but Pravinbhai stands out as the harassed one.

He is repeatedly blackmailed by Bhola for keeping Sharmili’s accident under wraps. Zeenat Aman hardly looks the coy soul that her name suggests. She is the driving force behind Bhola extracting more and more ransom amount from Pravinbhai. In hilarious style, Pravinbhai is pursued by his blackmailers with four key words “Borivali, khandar (ruins), ladki (girl), phaansi (noose).” Deven Verma brings suitable expressions of a man trapped in a corner to create some funny situations that are exploited by Bhola and Sharmili.

The plight that marks Pravinbhai's encounters each time he runs into the two thieves enlivens the movie at regular intervals. The music hardly appeals, the story follows a predictable course, but Deven Verma brings life to the plot with his character of a hapless Gujjubhai, always agreeing to bow and shell out the ransom, but only after ‘winning’ a small amount for himself.

It all ends on a happy note with father embracing his long-lost son, Bhola and Sharmili coming together, and Pravinbhai receiving the ransom, funnily, this time too with a small deduction as is his wont!

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 7:17:02 AM |

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