Above is a shot from Chashme Buddoor (1981). I draw your attention to the guy in the middle – yes, the one with all the bandages on him. Inevitably evokes laughter, doesn’t he? What if I were to tell you this person passed away yesterday?
Ravi Baswani died yesterday, July 27, 2010. He was returning from scouting locations in Nanital for his directorial debut film. When I read of his demise in the papers, my first reaction was more of shock than sorrow. For those of us who grew in the 80s and 90s, his was one of the faces that essentially represented fun, laughter and everything else that comprised ‘comedy’ for us. To associate that face with the morbid idea of death is inconceivable. Only the other day, I’d spotted him in a soft drink ad, co-starring South heartthrob Asin Thottumkal!
So many memories came rushing back. In the early 80s, Baswani was a regular in an immensely entertaining DD Serial named Idhar Udhar, sharing screen space with the likes of Ratna Pathak-Shah and Supriya Pathak. He also starred in a popular adolescent romance-themed series on Sony entitled Just Mohabbat. But of course, the two pillars of Indian entertainment history everyone remembers him for are Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983) and Chashme Buddoor. One could go delirious with laughter at his wafer-thin features and queer gait in Chashme..In Jaane Bhi Do, his unforgettable turn as Bhimsen with the inverted Gada is funny even the zillionth time you watch it! Ravi Baswani also represented the innocence of those times… an era ends with his passing on. Sad.
But then, had he been here now, he’d probably shoo all that serious talk with a wave of his hand and say, “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro…”!