Movie Review: Chhoti Si Baat (1975)

Long gone is the era in which simple films were made with the sole intention of strumming the chords of your heart. Those were the days when directors like Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee and Sai Paranjape made movies Hindi cinema can brag about today.

Beautiful films with real actors who played believable characters, romanced their heroines with subtle charm and soulful music. Sai Paranjape made the enjoyable Chashme Baddoor (1981), while Hrishikesh Mukherjee pierced his way into our hearts with the hilarious Gol Maal (1979) and countless other terrific films.

Amidst plenty of these great middle-of-the-road films, stands out a little-known movie made by Basu Chatterjee. Chhoti Si Baat, probably the most lovable romantic comedy movie to ever come out of Hindi cinema.


Chhoti Si Baat is the story of Arun Pradeep (Amol Palekar), a young accountant who suffers from lack of confidence. Arun is painfully shy and cannot proclaim his love for Prabha Narayan, whom he sees daily in the bus on the way to work, or while standing in the queue at the bus stand. He knows his love for Prabha is true, but somehow cannot muster up the courage to even strike up a conversation with her.

Prabha Narayan (Vidya Sinha) is fully aware of Arun’s feelings towards her, but instead of making the first move, enjoys watching him squirm in discomfort. She makes sure he follows her to her office regularly, pretends she’s oblivious to it all, but secretly loves it.

Arun’s self-esteem, which is very low to start off with, goes on a downward spiral because of his inability to woo Prabha, and is hurled down the abyss with the arrival of Nagesh.

Nagesh Shastri (Asrani) is Arun’s rival. He has a scooter (Arun doesn’t), is gregarious (Arun is not), is streetsmart (everyone walks all over Arun) and, in short, is better off than Arun in all ways.

Arun tries all sorts of things to become the confident, persuasive man he has always longed to be, the man that can court Prabha relentlessly and win her over with his killer charms. Failing miserably to do so and down on his luck, Arun decides to give his useless existence one last shot at glory. He has heard of this man who lives in Khandala, a retired army man who helps failures in love, one Colonel Julius Nagendranath Wilfred Singh…


Right from the beginning when Arun is shown following Prabha and walking away when she turns around, to the many scenes in which he fantasises about being one-up on Nagesh and thus winning Prabha’s affection, every scene is a golden moment that is impossible to erase from your memory.

The demure Vidya Sinha has such a pretty face, she looks gorgeous and is very decently dressed throughout the movie. Her eyes do most of the talking, and they are very mischievious at times!

Asrani is perfect as Arun’s archrival as the loud Nagesh. With his mannerisms and yellow (!) scooter, Asrani is in terrific form and has a wicked charm that you cannot help but love and laugh at!

Ashok Kumar, the legend. What can be said about this actor that hasn’t been said before? Ashok Kumar is Colonel Julius Nagendranath Wilfred Singh (retired), and there is no other actor who could’ve done justice to the role. Ashok Kumar looks fit, hale and hearty, and he commands respect as only a thorough gentleman and thoroughly disciplined army man would. Colonel JNW Singh has made a profession out of helping losers like Arun Pradeep, mainly because he is living with the pain of unrequited love, and wants every young man to be bold and brave in matters of the heart.

The hero of our story, Arun Pradeep, is played by none other than the terribly endearing Amol Palekar. He is simply brilliant at playing mousy characters, and here, as a loser trying to find his way up, Amol Palekar’s Arun Pradeep is a character you can relate to if you have ever suffered from lack of confidence, or whether you’ve been in love even once in your life.


The second half of Chhoti Si Baat is all about the return of Arun Pradeep, magically transformed into a suave, charming stud by the Colonel. With Col JNW Singh’s training and blessings, Arun returns to Bombay, dead-sure of winning Prabha’s love, and even more confident of kicking Nagesh’s ass. The scenes that follow are hilarious, as Arun beats Nagesh at every single thing, infuriating the hell out of him, driving him to frustration, to the point of pulling out his curly hair, letting him win only a game of chess!

Marvel at how well the music goes with the situation as Arun Pradeep clumsily (and unknowingly) takes the more difficult path to get to the Colonel’s house. A timid Amol Palekar with a briefcase and an umbrella trying not to lose balance on green hillocks…priceless!

Do the songs deserve a special mention? No, they deserve a lifetime of applause, for Salil Chaudhry has composed a timeless score that is perfect for an immortal piece of art that Chhoti Si Baat is.

Jaaneman Jaaneman
(featuring DharmendraHema Malini), sung by K J Yesudas and Asha Bhonsle will make you make your woman run around in a park at knife-point just so you can have the pleasure of running behind her while singing it!

Na Jaane Kyun (sung by Lata Mangeshkar- the best female singer in the world) will make you fall in love if you never have, even if you’re the most hopeless case on this planet, and it will make you cry and run to the one you love and you will never ever leave them!

Yeh Din Kya Aaye (sung by the great Mukesh) will erase all the bad and sad memories of your life, and will make you run, shout, sing and dance for the sheer joy of living!

And Basu Chatterjee’s Chhoti Si Baat will make your heart smile and you will be left wondering why they don’t make such movies anymore. Loaded with clean humour – nothing crass, nothing over-the-top…the movie is filled with goodness that stays with you forever.

Chhoti Si Baat is one of the sweetest romantic comedies ever, and a film that Hindi cinema will forever be proud of. Without a doubt, this is one of Shri Basu Chatterjee’s finest works…and a prime example of how powerful cinema can subtly blow you away.

[Previously published as a Buzz Recco on Buzz18]

19 Responses to “Movie Review: Chhoti Si Baat (1975)”

  1. 1 Ritesh Mayekar
    December 1, 2009 at 04:13

    Love this movie . Simple yet classy.

    Love Asrani’s dialogue ” ek Chicken Aalafoos . Albert(not sure of the name) ko kehna Nagesh sahab ka order hai. ”



  2. 3 Roy
    December 1, 2009 at 04:51

    Nagesh (Asrani) has a yellow lambretta…that gives up on him when the tables turn and Palekar gets ‘yo’ with Prabha (Vidya Sinha.

    Nagesh will kick his lamby before/ after pulling out his curly hair!

    & Colonel Julius Nagendranath Wilfred Singh (retired…..too good!


  3. December 1, 2009 at 11:19

    A review truly befitting the movie. Super.
    If there ever was a quintessential review, a benchmark on movie reviews, this would truly be it.


  4. 6 Janak
    December 1, 2009 at 13:08

    Lovely review. I love this film.

    There is an audio cd available which has soundtracks of four on one – Chhoti si baat, Rajnigandha, Baaton Baaton Mein & Angoor. You should get it.


  5. 7 Sam
    December 1, 2009 at 13:30

    It was a simple movie with honest intentions of giving public a ‘Quality Entertainment’ that is identifiable by anyone and everyone. Add to that list, the name of Gulzaar saahab. He has directed some of the classic movies in my opinion.

    Choti Si Baat, Jaane Bhi Do Yaron, Golmaal( Utpal Dutt & Amol Palekar starrer) along with my most favorite ‘ACTOR’, Sanjeev Kumar’s Aandhi, Angoor & Pati, Patni aur Woh , and Vinod Khanna – Shatrughan Sinha starrer, Mere Apne, directed by ever so reclusive but a brilliant, maverick director, Gulzaar saahab, is delight for the senses with their simplistic style of presenting a near flawless, free flowing, simple story presented with delightful ease. Add to them, Kamal Haasan starrer, Ek Duje Ke Liye and Sadma. A heady compilation of these movies make for cinematic brilliance at its best, in Indian context. Simplicity is the essence of all these timeless classics.

    It’s a delightful movie with simplicity as its USP. Indeed, gone are those golden days where movies were made to not only entertain but with utmost simplicity. 🙂


  6. 8 Tj
    April 18, 2010 at 15:52

    ah….love every bit of this movie!
    and an appropriate review that makes justice to every frame of the flick.
    Amol Palekar FTW!
    and Vidya Sinha…….ah…*drools*


  7. 9 Whoracle
    August 17, 2010 at 13:54

    Very nice 😀


  8. 10 Raf Raf
    August 17, 2010 at 14:28

    It’s a lovely film 🙂 They don’t make movies like these anymore.


  9. December 11, 2010 at 04:01

    I like every single second of this movie, the environment, music, people, style, places.

    The last moment when vidya admire her love and that flute make me very cool.

    I wonder if I can see that in those moment when it was filming, is it possible I can see those places like bus stop or khandala in before after.

    Amole was very fine actor no one like that.

    Actual credit goes to Director and rest of the team.



  10. 12 Royale With Cheese
    September 28, 2013 at 19:00

    Ah. Good movie, albeit tis a bit slow.


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