Whenever we think of Rajesh Khanna, the first movie that comes to the mind is Anand. This masterpiece, iconic not just for its dialogues but also for its songs, is directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Hrishi da (as he was popularly known) worked with Kaka in two other movies- the socialist Namak Haraam (The Traitor) and the light-hearted comedy Bawarchi (the Cook), the latter of which is a less known classic.
Rajesh Khanna as the titular ‘Bawarchi’
The premise of Bawarchi is really simple. There is a dysfunctional household consisting of an eccentric patriarch, his three sons, two daughters-in-law, and grandkids. The house, ironically named ‘Shanti Niwas’ (Abode of Peace), is famous for its squabbling members and inability to retain servants for more than a month. Then enters Rajesh Khanna as the new cook, Raghu- who dishes out scrumptious food, while simultaneously teaching the household the importance of family and love. However, is he just a simple cook or does he have some hidden agenda?
Bawarchi, in classic Hrishi Da style, is devoid of awe-inducing action, violence or obscenities.
The cast of Bawarchi boasts of some of the best-known actors of the time- Kali Banerjee, A K Hangal, and Asrani shine as the three brothers, whose relationship is rooted in disagreements. Harindranath Chattopadhyay tickles the funny bone as the eccentric Dadduji, whose protectiveness of his valuable trunk and his orphaned granddaughter Krishna are his defining features. Jaya Bhaduri, as Krishna, captures the heart as an introverted girl who is hesitant to show her talents or express herself until Raghu encourages her to shine.
The soundtrack of the movie, composed by Madan Mohan and written by Kaifi Azmi tilts towards classical music and has signature numbers like ‘Bhor Aayi Gaya Andhiyara’ and ‘Tum Bin Jeevan Kaisa Jeevan’.
Bawarchi, in classic Hrishi Da style, is devoid of awe-inducing action, violence or obscenities. Its beauty lies in its simplicity, which manages to make the viewer feel good while conveying a message about morals and family values. Gulzar’s dialogues add further depth to each scene. The clean comedy and the interspersed mystery about Raghu’s character make Bawarchi an enthralling watch.