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Character Spotlight: Hera Pheri’s Baburao Apte

Here's revisiting Paresh Rawal's Baburao Apte in Priyadarshan's blockbuster comedy film Hera Pheri.

baburao hera pheri paresh rawal Paresh Rawal elevated the character of Baburao aka Babu Bhaiya with his histrionics in Hera Pheri.

What makes Hera Pheri one of the finest comic capers of Bollywood? Apart from its hilarious dialogues and comedy of errors, major credit goes to one man who lifts the movie entirely – Baburao Ganpatrao Apte aka Babu Bhaiya played by powerhouse performer Paresh Rawal. The character is also the “soul” of this sleeper hit, which has acquired a cult status over the years.

Baburao was a never-seen-before character in Bollywood. But what was it that made him a fan-favourite?

Baburao as an irate oldie is innocent at times and scheming at other. His dhoti-kurta/vest are complimented with thick frames that enlarge his eyes ensuring that his entire look attracts giggles. In fact, his heavy glasses wrongfully come in the way of everything, from getting stuck in the helmet to falling off during the climax when Baburao picks a gun instead of his glasses! Had we seen a pair of spectacles acting as the perfect comedy prop in any of our films?

hera pheri best comedy film Paresh Rawal, Akshay Kumar and Suniel Shetty played the main leads of Baburao, Raju and Shyam in Hera Pheri.

As the owner of a garage that does little business, Baburao hyperventilates while dealing with Raju and Shyam, who are his nagging tenants and the only confidants in his mundane life. He scolds them for breaking his household items during a fight and even gives them a shoulder to cry on when things go awry.

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He does have anger management issues but that barely creates any trouble, rather it only adds an element of fun to the film. Whenever he hurls abuses at a caller after a wrong number (addressed to Dev Prasad’s Star Fisheries) in his patent manner, we can only laugh seeing Baburao going red in anger. Remember how he declares Dev Prasad dead to a customer out of frustration?

The high point of Baburao’s character is his Marathi twang and the local slangs. No, they aren’t jarring, rather they give us the best moments in the film. His lexicon has over time become part of our everyday language.

Compared to Mannar Mathai, his counterpart from the original Malayalam hit Ramji Rao Speaking (1989), Baburao has more melodrama, his mannerisms are exaggerated and his love for alcohol elicits bigger laughs. His life is literal. From literal conversations where he never knows how to “read between the lines” to literal actions (recall how he thinks they are sitting to answer the nature’s call in helmets, when Raju and Shyam try to hide him behind a tree), Baburao lives by simple rules.

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Baburao was someone Bollywood hadn’t seen before. Of course, we had rooted middle-class characters played by Mehmood, Shakti Kapoor and Johnny Lever, but nothing like him. Despite trying to be the patriarch and assert his seniority, he is childlike and barely manages to give any input to Raju and Shyam during the plotting. In truth, he becomes a victim to every glitch in the plan. He can be credited for keeping the film’s humour intact in the second half when the storyline drifts towards a kidnapping and ransom call.

Also read | Character Spotlight: DDLJ’s Raj Malhotra Jab We Met’s Geet Dhillon Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai’s Raj Chopra Dil Chahta Hai’s Sameer Mulchandani | Wake Up Sid’s Aisha Banerjee 3 Idiot’s Rancho | Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’s Nandini Darbar

The most memorable and striking scene has to be when a sobbing Shyam complains to Baburao that Raju, by mischief, sold his job to Anuradha (Tabu). Baburao, at first, playfully teases Raju for being naughty and immediately slaps him for his shrewdness, ending it up with “yeh Baburao ka style hai”. He not only showed his authority over the two men but also that he is the boss here.

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Baburao remains one of the most loved comic characters of recent times.

First published on: 10-11-2019 at 08:00:33 am
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