Bombay Addict as the name suggest is a trueBombay addict. He runs a blog, “Bombay Diaries” writing all about my favorite city,Bombay or Mumbai or Bambai. He is currently hosting a series called “Reel Life Bombay” where he invites guest writers to write about Bombay in Indian movies.
He invited me as guest writer (Me? Writer?) on his blog for the series. So here is my first take on Bombay and Movies and looking at Sai Paranjpe’s “Katha”. I add this to my own series of Mumbai.
Katha (1983): Sai Paranjpe’s “Katha” tells a simple story of two people, one flamboyant and the other simple and honest, both vying for the attention of a girl. “Katha” told the story of the tortoise and the hare in a whole new way. “Katha” was a genre of Hrishikesh Mukerjee type of movies which showed simple stories told simply without much ado. “Katha’s” high point was the ability of Sai Paranjpe to show chawl life in Mumbai.“Katha” takes place in a chawl in Mumbai with Naseerudin Shah as the protagonist who is in love with a girl in the chawl, Deepti Naval. Farooque Shaikh, plays Naseerudin’s friend, and is a big show-off. In a short time he manages to woo Deepti Naval as well as most of the chawl inhabitants. While what happens is the predictable good winning over evil kind of story, the director captured the essence of chawl life to its fullest.My home in Mumbai is in a similar chawl-like environment and I could readily identify with the goings on in the movie. A Mumbai chawl is where every news is big news and everyone knows what is happening in everyone else’s house. Yet, internal matters of the home remain within the four walls of the house. At one time these chawls formed the major housing infrastructure in Mumbai but are now slowly giving rise to isolated high-rise apartments.
In a chawl, the smallest the of smallest events call for celebration – be it a promotion, child’s birth or marriage. The chawl is indeed one big family where you laugh, share, fight and do everything you would in a family. Gossip and food are exchanged over snacks and tea at each other’s house, where everyone is invited.
The biggest constraint is the lack of space in chawl. I remember vividly the scene where Farooque Shaikh visits a neighbor who proudly shows him all the furniture which is foldable – the TV cupboard, the coffee table, everything is foldable to save space.
In a chawl your life is open to everybody. Despite that, joint families live together ‘adjusting’ to each other and at the same time respecting the privacy of each family member.
Sai Paranjpe captured the warmth, the love and never-say-die attitude of the chawl inhabitants and the Mumbai people in “Katha”, which very few movies could do as well.