A Chef’s Recipe for Peace


A pinch of humour, spoonfuls of kindness and a dollop of music.

Zindagi mein badi khushiyon ke mauke toh sirf 10-20 hote hain lekin unke peeche hum chhoti chhoti khushiyon ke hazaar lakhon pal gawa dete hain." So said Raghu (Rajesh Khanna) — the all-in-one masterchef extraordinaire, good Samaritan, guardian angel, trained classical singer— in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's delightful film, Bawarchi.

Raghu shares many such pearls of wisdom with the squabbling members of Daduji Shivnath Sharma (Harindranath Chattopadhyay)'s family who reside in a house called Shanti Niwas. The characters of the Sharma family and their nok jhoks are so everyday and real that all of us can identify with them — the badi maa who feigns knee pain just to avoid work in the kitchen, the brothers who fight every morning over who will use the washroom first — we know these people very well. Things are so bad with the Sharmas that different characters in the film aver the family house should be named Yudh Bhawan or Ashanti Niwas. The biggest tragedy of the family is that no servant seems to stay on — the longest a servant worked was for a month.

Enter bawarchi Raghu — a khaki shorts-shirt-Gandhi topi-attired motormouth, who comes armed with jaadu ki jhappi-ish philosophies, and ends up joining the family with the glue of his goodness. Khanna who played the title role to perfection, gets to say a career-defining line in this film too. Raghu's core belief: "It is so simple to be happy but it is so difficult to be simple" was the starting point of this film for its director. I was fortunate enough to attend a retrospective of Hrishida's films a few years ago at IFFI, Goa, where in an audio message, the filmmaker said, "I don't consider myself big enough to give people a message. But people should remain happy. The purpose of life is to be happy."

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