Gol Maal (1979)

May 10, 2009 at 4:33 am 4 comments

Gol Maal (1979)

Lately I’ve been on an Amol Palekar kick…unintentionally. Gol Maal was something I decided to watch based on a few user ratings on Netflix…though this can be an iffy science, I had a gut feeling that I would probably enjoy this…and did I? Yes. Tremendously. Very similar to the last movie (Chhoti Si Baat) and many others, Amol plays the ‘common man’, a role he was generally best at. Realistic, softly charming, and humerous. Gol Maal was a sweet, comical, fun movie…and here’s why…


Directed by: Hrishikesh Mukherjee

Starring: Amol Palekar, Utpal Dutt, Bindiya Goswami


The intro was interesting, and then quite cute. A soccer game. Some cut-out colored pictures sliding around like a kaleidoscopic image, and then a group of friends singing the song ‘Gol Maal’. . I had a difficult time refraining from chiming in with my own “Gol..Maal..Gol…Maal Hain!” And waving my arms about with them. The guy on the far right in the silk(?) black patterned shirt is none other than the main character, Ram Prasad Sharma (Amol Palekar).vlcsnap-410732

By the way, if anyone manages to find translations (or make translations) of this song (Gol Maal) I would be incredibly grateful. If there’s one thing that sometimes frustrates me about Bollywood films, it’s that such a startling majority of them have no subtitles for the songs…so I’m missing out on half of the fun of listening.

After the song, Ram goes home and explains to his sister, Ratna (Manju Singh), that he was at his friend, Anand’s party, where he was asked to sing many songs…and as we all know, when parties rage into the night…everyone sits in groups and sings…alcohol is for losers, the real hip dudes are all chanting to tunes like ‘Om Shanti Om’ and ‘Tum Paas Aa Rahe Ho’.

Ram is absolutely obsessed with sports. He doesn’t play them though, he just watches. What he really should be worried about is passing. If he doesn’t get a good grade, he won’t get a good job. Apparently only 15% end up making it in his subject, so his sister is worried. But she has no real need to be…because the next day, when he returns home (though he plays a mean joke by pretending he didn’t) he’s passed…

Ram’s sister and his uncle, Doctor Kedar Mama (David Abraham) couldn’t be more pleased. So now the doctor can find a job for Ram without trouble. Okay, honestly…there will be a tiny bit of trouble (because what is a movie without conflict, and what is an Indian movie without a heap of conflict?)

So where is Ram going to work? Urmil Traders. What’s his future boss’s name? Bhavani Shankar (Utpal Dutt) who abides by the philosophy that the country is in a mess because everyone working is experienced, so he wants someone who’s inexperienced. Who better than a young man fresh out of college? And apparently, Ram’s best advantage in his job interview is going to be his moustache…because a truly honest man can only be measured by his moustache. He’ll need to state his entire name. He also can’t let Bhavani know that his uncle gave him a recommendation, because Bhavani hates references. Ram will have to wear a dhothi and kurta as opposed to a suit, and worst of all…BHAYANI HATES SPORTS. Just look at the stricken face of Ram…how on earth is he going to pretend he doesn’t obsessively go to test matches and listen to interviews about sporting events?!vlcsnap-434784

Now what does this next picture have to do with the story? Not much…just an Amitabh cameo (you know me, always got to point out those camoes…)vlcsnap-436960

Ram didn’t have a dhothi and kurta, so a friend of his took him to a studio to get one, that’s where the cameo came in…FYI. Ram’s friend is an actor, Deven Verma specifically, hence why he was able to go to the studio to pick up the outfit. When going through outfits, the helper holding them informs Ram’s friend that the second kurta is Sanjeev Kumar’s (insert girlish squeal) and another that might fit Ram would be Asrani’s…though it might be a little short (insert less emphatic, but still pretty cheerful girlish squeal.) And what, might you ask is the result of his drastic wardrobe change? Ram ends up looking like this…10 years older, 20 pounds heavier…lovely…but hey, pretending he’s everything he isn’t ends up getting Ram the job…so I guess it’s good to lie about yourself and pretend to be someone else.vlcsnap-443730

Watching Ram in his job interview is a very amusing little bit. He really is a good liar (which makes you wonder…) Unfortunately, now that he has the job…he’ll have to keep up the charade. Bhavani is very impressed by this young man’s high ideals similar to his…after all, only men of strong moral standing can understand the true value of a good moustache.

Ram is a hard worker, I’ll give him that. He points out an accounting error to Bhavani and gets a bit of extra cash for the job. Afterwards he celebrates in the park with his sister and friends. Here we get yet another fun song. R.D. Burman was the composer, so one shouldn’t be surprised that the music is great. The song is silly, and there’s a cute sequence wherein Ram is now a superstar and Amitabh is homeless outside of the studio building with a pitiful face. Then there’s a bit of Hema, Zeenat, Rekha…wow, Ram sure has a fanciful imagination. Again…I’m sure this song would be even funnier with subtitles…vlcsnap-456898

Ram and his friends come up with a plan for him to leave work early for a hockey game later…they’re going to pretend his mother fell ill. And what happens? They play Bhavani like a fish…I mean fiddle. Little does Ram know, Bhavani actually ENJOYS sports, despite his pretenses…and goes to the very same hockey game that day. So does Bhavani spot Ram in the crowd? Obviously. The next day, when Ram is confronted about it…he lies and says he has a twin brother named Laxman. He goes on to say that Laxman looks like a roadside Romeo with colorful clothes and a clean-shaven face…so it couldn’t be Ram. Bhavani, being the idiot…er…trusting man that he is, believes Ram’s story. Bhavani takes pity on Ram and asks him to bring his brother to his (Bhavani’s) house, so he can give him a job teaching Bhavani‘s daughter, Urmila (hindiya Goswami) to sing…uh-oh…

Ram must enlist the help of Deven Verma once more to create a false moustache (so he can shave to pretend he‘s his brother Laxman, and then put the moustache later on to be himself again at work)…and might I add that Deven has some of the funniest lines in the movie? But Ram/Laxman has the rest…vlcsnap-468515

His plan is to go to Bhavani’s house and be such a horrible jerk that he’ll be fired from teaching Urmila immediately, and Ram can grow back his real moustache…

Watching Ram play Laxman…or as he likes to be called…’Lucky’ makes you wonder why he didn’t become an actor and upstage Amitabh instead of a dusty old accountant after all. He plays obnoxious really well, and is probably using his irritation from playing a stuffy mama’s boy at work to please his boss to fuel the arrogance. The plan to get fired back…er…fires. Why? Because Urmila has heard Ram sing before, and loves it. The only way he’ll get fired is if she thinks he’s a horrible music teacher (or for that matter singer, which is apparently already out the window as an option.) At least she doesn’t know his name, because if she did…his whole cover would be blown…

So what happens next? You’ll have to find out for yourself, I don’t want to ruin the entire experience for you. I will say that I liked this one even MORE than Chhoti Si Baat (imagine that) but I’ll have to give it the same score of 9 out of 10 bindis, because there were some film quality problems early on in the movie with some yellow splotches appearing all over the frame for a good 30 seconds. I didn’t really care, but I noticed anyway…


Entry filed under: 5 and more Bindis, Exceptionally good (8-10), Film Reviews, Hindi, Languages. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. anandnewscafe  |  May 10, 2009 at 5:50 am

    That narration was fantastic:) I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed the movie. Liked the idea of the Cameo picture – if Amitabh could do Cameo roles in movies, he could do a Cameo picture in your post:)


  • 2. choti  |  June 14, 2009 at 10:07 am

    nice information

  • 3. atreya  |  November 1, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Can you pass me the lyrics of the song? I will see if I can trnslate it for you.

    • 4. ranranami  |  November 1, 2009 at 5:03 pm

      Thank you for the offer, but someone already sent me the lyrics.


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