Bawarchi (बावर्ची)

Rating: 4/4 (Absolutely heartwarming and funny! Jaya Badhuri is endearing!)

After years of prodding from friends I am slowly discovering the wonderful world of Hrishikesh Mukherjee. I saw Bawarchi (बावर्ची) and was completely mesmerized by this heartwarming and funny yarn. The movie is set in the house of a retired postmaster where he lives with his large joint family of 3 sons, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren. The family members squabble a lot and do not help each other resulting in mutual problems. The house requires a cook and no person they hire for this job seems to capable of bearing with their bickering for more than a few days.

One day, a stranger named Raghu (Rajesh Khanna) walks into this racket house and volunteers to become their cook. They are initially suspicious of him, but he wins them over with his genuine charm, good humour and prodigous talent. He soon becomes like a family member, brings an end to their tiffs and makes them experience the genuine joy of helping each other out. But not all is what it seems, when we discover that Raghu is a conman who has his eye on the chest of valuables that belongs to the postmaster.

It is hard to watch Bawarchi without being overwhelmed by warmth and joy. Based on a  Bengali play, Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s tightly written script tugs at the heart strings. Freshness, good natured humour and hidden irony are all pervasive in the movie. The songs are few and pretty good, but the one which really stood out for me was the sad Tum Bin Jeevan Kaisa Jeevan? (What kind of life is it without you?).

Everyone has given stellar performances, but Rajesh Khanna outshines as the do-all know-all cook. He gets so much into the skin of this character that it is unimaginable to dream of anyone but him as the bawarchi. Very notable for me was Jaya Badhuri as Krishna, the orphaned grandchild of the post master who is ill treated by the family. From her very first appearance in Bawarchi, I was completely blown away by her angelic demeanour and beauty. (I have seen the older Jaya Bachchan in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, but this is the first time I saw her younger self!) It may seem odd given how old this movie is, but I am now so impressed with Jaya that I am eager to catch a few more of her movies! Bawarchi is a highly recommended movie from the Hrishikesh Mukherjee universe!


6 thoughts on “Bawarchi (बावर्ची)

  1. Nikhil 2010-01-02 / 01:02

    I’m actually surprised you have not watched any of Jaya Bhaduri’s movies. KKKG is one of her worst ones. If you are interested, check out Milli & Guddi – 2 movies in which she’s done contrasting kind of roles. Another Jaya Bhaduri movie not to missed is the classic Koshish – starring Sanjeev Kumar.

    • Ashwin Nanjappa 2010-01-02 / 01:07

      I have basically not seen any pre-90s Hindi movie, which is why I am discovering all of them now. I did not mean to complement Jaya in KKKG, it is just the only movie where I had seen her. She is so beautiful, so angelic!!! I am still trying to recover from her effect on me in Bawarchi! Thanks for the recommendations, I *really* need to watch more of her movies! 😀

  2. Varsha 2010-01-04 / 19:13

    Nicest movie of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, apart from Golmaal that is. Jaya Bhaduri is cute and nice. Get watching her Abhimaan and Zanjeer along with the ones mentioned above.

    • Ashwin Nanjappa 2010-01-04 / 19:36

      Thanks for the recommendations, will watch those too. I just cannot get over Jaya and the heartwarming feel of this movie! 🙂

  3. manoharv2009 2010-01-08 / 20:24

    Super Star Rajesh Khanna – No other actor at the peak of his career could have tried to do Bawarchi. It is a character which is non glamorous, no action, no romance but yet it was the ability of Super Star Rajesh Khanna that he put up such a sterling performance which will be remembered forever. This Hrishikesh Mukherjee movie suffers from average music but the character of Rajesh Khanna pulls the movie through and the audience comes out thinking.It is a must see for all movie goers as it is a masterpiece. Rajesh Khanna is excellent in the central character and is ably supported by other cast members – Jaya Bachchan,A k Hangal and others. It is inspired by an old Bengali hit and the spirit of Bawarchie continues to live and a no of movies have been made based on similar stories. However, it is a movie of joint families- which hardly exists in today’s world. A must see

    • Ashwin Nanjappa 2010-01-09 / 10:44

      Manohar, I also felt a bit of sadness that such joint families do not exist today. 😦

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