Bawarchi, inspired by the Bengali film, Galpa Holeo Satyi (1966), by Tapan Sinha, revolves around the disgruntled Sharma household, who cannot retain a cook for more than a while, owing to their rude behaviour. And then, the affable Raghu enters, and overstays his welcome!
The Hrishikesh Mukherjee film can be described in two words - Simply charming. In fact, any of the legendary filmmaker's films could be given the same description. Bawarchi belongs to a genre that so many filmmakers in today's day and age are trying to recapture. Any story which does not abandon the Indian-ness despite being embedded with western influences, works for us. Bawarchi is a story that reminds us of ourselves. And mind you, so many elements put forward in the film are still very relevant, even four decades later.
No person wants to take up the cook's job at the chaotic Sharma household. Their Shanti Nivas is riddled with ashanti, and no member in the family is leading a peaceful life. All of them carry their problems to work/school/nowhere and back home, and vent out all their frustrations at each other, which leads to much negativity. Add to that, the absence of a cook only increases the tension, leading to much irritation and blame-game!
Enter Raghu (Rajesh Khanna)! Within a few days, Raghu mixes up nicely with everybody in the household. He's absolutely impeccable at his work. Moreover, he takes that extra effort to solve everyone's problems at home. He even sorts out differences between estranged family members, and acts as an agent of change in the Sharma household.
But, how could a cook be so knowledgable, one wonders! Is there more to it than what meets the eye?
There is no dull moment in the film. It has everything that the regular cinema viewer in you would want to watch in a movie. It has got drama and comedy in abundance; music is nicely tailored in, and the suspense element towards the end takes the film to another level. Performances by Khanna, Jaya Bachchan, Usha Kiran, A. K. Hangal and Asrani, stand out. Meanwhile, Amitabh Bachchan's voice works wonders for the narration in the film. Music by Madan Mohan has its 'old-world charm', which may never be created again. Gulzar's dialogues form the perfect foil to Hrishikesh's perfectly-conceived scenes.
More than anything, the film manages to be very witty, despite going down the 'preachy' path, more often than not. Rajesh Khanna's monologues, if listened to intently, will leave you with a melancholic smile on several occasions. There's a certain sense of overwhelming quality in these underdog-films, where you cheer on as those who have for long suffered, decide to stand up for themselves. There's a certain sense of relief in such films, when you see good things happen to good people. Such films give us hope to fight back against all that's negative in our lives. 'Goodness' always wins. While we may not see it happen around us often, it is important that we believe in it.
This cook did not spoil the broth!