10 Hindi Comedies That Are Funny Even if You Don’t Speak Hindi

This is not an insult to all the many many Hindi film comedy classics that are not on this list!  It is just an acknowledgement that humor is a really hard thing to translate, there’s social humor and language humor and all kinds of things that just don’t cross over.  But, in my experience, these films for whatever reason do translate well.

(Totally subjective list, you can feel free to disagree, but in my experience as a White Person, this is what works.  Oh, and there are way more movies not on this list that have funny moments, but I am trying to limit this to just straight up comedies, no action-comedies or rom-coms or anything like that)

 

Chupke Chupke

Image result for chupke chupke poster

Funny for this one to make the list, it’s all about language humor.  But what makes it funny is not the details, but the reaction shots, we don’t need to know what Dharmendra is saying, just see Om Prakash’s sputtering inability to follow it.  Oh, and it’s a Hrishikesh Mukherjee classic, master of the middle class parlor humor, featuring Dharmendra and Amitabh playing best friends who trade places, Sharmila Tagore being Dharmendra’s wife who is in on the joke, and adorably confused young Jaya falling for Amitabh even though she thinks he is a married man.

 

Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi

The comedy classic!  3 brothers, played by 3 real life brothers, who run a garage and hate women.  But then Kishore Kumar falls in love with Madhubala, and Anoop Kumar falls in love with Madhubala’s friend, and they have to convince big brother Ashok Kumar that women aren’t that bad after all.  It’s got a great cheerful spirit to it, lovely set pieces with Kishore mugging and Madhubala laughing at him, and a great title song (“Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi” means “if it goes, call it a car”)

 

Son of Sardaar

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This one is based on a Buster Keaton movie, so you know it must be good.  Ajay Devgan is the last surviving member of an enemy family, but so long as he is inside of Sanjay Dutt’s household, their hospitality vows will protect him.  Ajay Devgan is really really good at mugging faces, and with a plot like this, how can you go wrong?

 

Welcome

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Another remake!  By Anees Bazmee, who always does comedies and they tend to be very hit or miss.  A very very loose remake of Mickey Blue Eyes.  Really it just takes the idea of a sweet shy guy who falls for a gangster’s daughter.  In this case, two gangsters’ sister.  The best part is, the sweet shy guy is played by Akshay Kumar, action star.  Adding another layer of humor to all the scenes where he shakes in fear.  No, wait, the best part is that Anil Kapoor and Nana Patekar team up to play the gangster brothers and are HILARIOUS.

 

 

Judwaa

Image result for judwaa poster salman

I had a hard time deciding between this one and Biwi No. 1!  But ultimately I think Judwaa is the bigger classic, and less of a romance.  Salman plays estranged twins, they both grow up, they both fall in love, they both have problems, and so on and so on.  It’s the most ridiculous silly happy over the top comedy ever.

 

Andaz Apna Apna

Image result for andaz apna apna posters

One of the all time comedy cult classics.  But be aware, like most cult comedies, it doesn’t work at all on the first watch.  It’s all about coming back a second time and anticipating the jokes.  That’s why it works so well in translation, it’s not about the details exactly, it’s about seeing them repeated over and over again until you can’t help but laugh at them.  Plus all the double-meaning humor related to how film romances usually play out.  Oh, and Salman and Aamir are wonderful.  And Karisma is even better.

 

Jhankaar Beats

Image result for jhankaar beats

I love this movie so much!  It was a big deal when it came out for being the first “Hinglish” film, which is maybe a tiny bit why I like it, because I can actually get the language humor mostly.  But more than that, it is the best clever sort of slice of life comedy I’ve seen, nothing much happens scene to scene, it’s just the funny bits of real life presented really really well.  Also, Juhi is the Queen of Everything as the hero’s wife and beloved “Bhabhi” to the rest.

 

Tere Bin Laden

(This is from Tere Bin Laden 2: Dead or Alive, but I don’t care, it’s the best song video in the history of the world and I will use any excuse to play it)

If you think it isn’t possible to make a laugh out loud comedy about Pakistani politics and Bin Laden, that also turns into sudden sincerity and a cry for peace, then you haven’t seen this film.  Really, it’s the best feel good comedy about terrorism you will see in your life.  Ali Zafar plays a local reporter who fakes footage of Bin Laden using a lookalike in order to get a pay out from his boss, and then it all spirals from there.

 

Hera Pheri

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Yes yes, I am aware that the Malayalam original is superior.  But the Hindi version is pretty good too!  3 broke roommates, Suniel Shetty, Akshay Kumar, and Paresh Rawel get caught up in a kidnapping plot as a get rich scheme.

 

Munna Bhai MBBS

(Also, you can’t NOT sing along to this)

The best!  Well, by me.  All the others are pretty good too, but Munna Bhai is just seamlessly enjoyable. Brilliantly simple idea, a gangster who goes to medical school in order to please his father, played out with so many little funny touches.  And, of course, the perfect cast, Sanjay Dutt playing the cheerful hero, Arshad Warsi playing his devoted follower, Boman Irani playing his nemisis, and Jimmy Shergill playing his sweet Jimmy Shergill self.

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26 thoughts on “10 Hindi Comedies That Are Funny Even if You Don’t Speak Hindi

  1. Is it a coincidence that a lot of these are based on Hollywood films? Did that make the “translation” easier? Anyway, here to point out the “originals” of two of these: “Son of Sardaar” is a poor remake of Maryada Ramanna, directed by S. S. Rajamouli (and based on Our Hospitality, as you note); and Judwaa is a remake of Hello Brother, which itself is an unauthorized remake of Jackie Chan’s Twin Dragons.

    Am I weird that I found Andaz Apna Apna very funny even the first time, when I missed about 60% of the jokes, because it was too early in my Bollywood journey for me to get any of the filmi references? I guess it shows what a large number of jokes there were. 🙂

    I saw glowing reviews of Tere Bin Laden and wanted to watch it, but didn’t get around to it for a year or so, i.e., after the real Bin Laden was already captured and killed. So all the time I was watching it, I kept wondering if it would have been any funnier if I saw it before that real event, or if knowing the fact that he was already dead made me able to relax and enjoy the comedy more. I’ll never know.

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    • I was wondering the same thing when I realized how many were remakes! I am landing on correlation not causation, that is, most comedies in particular seem to be loose remakes. Which is also true for Hollywood, and I don’t really mind it, seems like borrowing the backbone of the plot from somewhere else makes it easier to build joke after joke after joke on top of it.

      Andaz Apna Apna is such a wonderful joke machine. 40% of the jokes is still twice as many as other movies have. And you can keep watching it over and over again and find a new joke every time.

      I saw Tere Bin Laden before Laden was caught, and it was still funny. But I didn’t think it would be, I was worried about it. The key was, I think, focusing on the circus around the hunt rather than the person himself. I could laugh at the media frenzy and the incompetent CIA and all the rest of it, and forget about what it was actually about. The sequel (which I still found very funny even though it was a lot less successful) focused on the actual capture, using the lookalike to fake footage of the capture because Obama (who is a character in the movie) is sick of people not believing it without footage.

      On Sun, May 6, 2018 at 9:27 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Tere Bin Laden is one of those stoylines that draw from what the general public talks about but it’s too political to put in print. Pakistanis are the most outspoken amongst the desis. There were real life protests around President Musharraf with the slogan “Amreeka ne kutta pala, wardi wala wardi wala” (trans. America’s adopted a new dog- the guy with the uniform) Even today you can’t have street protests with slogans like that in India.

      In that way TBL was such a refreshing film because it spoke about what we in India already knew from whispers from across the border and of course, across the border they were actually talking about exactly what’s in the film. It is totally interesting that Iron Man 3 loosely had the same premise- of an actor making videos pretending to be a terrorist! TBL worked because it was an inside joke already!

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  2. Son of Sardar wasn’t directed by Rohit Shetty, but Ashwini Dhir.
    I love Tere Bin Laden. We were supposed to watch Khatta Meetha, but couldn’t make it to the show, and decided to watch Tere Bin Laden. Best mistake ever. And me and my friend promptly fell in love with Ali Zafar, me even more after watching Mere Brother Ki Dulhan.

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    • Ali Zafar is so great in comic roles. He was perfect in Dear Zindagi too, playing the nice guy who is still just not right.

      On Sun, May 6, 2018 at 1:31 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. The first hindi comedy I really liked was Deewane Huye Paagal. I just read now on Wikipedia it was flop, and I’m shocked because it was so funny. Why people didn’t like it? Oh, and it was inspired by There’s Something About Mary.
    I don’t remember seeing other really good comedies, till recently, when something in me changed and I started enjoying indian sense of humor. I even like Brahmanandam’s scenes in telugu movies now! Earlier I was like: oh no, again this guy ! And now laugh when I see him.

    Other comedy I really enjoyed – Bareilly Ki Barfi, comedy scenes are the heart of the movie
    And let’s not forget Prem Aggan – it’s not comedy but it can’t be taken seriously.

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    • I hope that someday I have a similar miracle, because right now I still find Brahmanadram suuuuuuper boring.

      On Sun, May 6, 2018 at 3:08 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. The first Hindi comedy I watched (and very enjoyed) was Duplicate…meanwhile, I got to know others, some of them you present here.
    I like the fact that humour can be something one can enjoy without understanding the words, just by looking at the persons…the silent movie comedies not silent anymore 🙂

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    • Duplicate is a great one for physical comedy. I still don’t like it that much, just feels a bit too long to me, but it is a good one if you don’t speak the language.

      On Sun, May 6, 2018 at 5:05 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. One of the most underappreciated silly comedies of all time from the Hindi industry is Welcome to Karachi! If you haven’t watched it already, go watch it asap! The references are super easy to understand even if you’re not desi!

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  6. Main Hoon Na
    The humor translates seamlessly to a western audience. The running Matrix slow mo sight gags were so funny when it released, maybe not as funny now since so many movies from around the globe have parodied Matrix since then.
    Ironically, the humor in MHN is so western that it might actually be pockets of the Indian audience that have trouble understanding it all.

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    • I thought about using Main Hoon Na, but it’s such a pure masala, I couldn’t decide if it was a comedy or a drama or a romance or an action movie.

      On Mon, May 7, 2018 at 2:27 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I’d definitely classify MHN as a Masala Comedy. Yes it has all the Masala elements in it, but ultimately its a comedy (maybe a rom com or even a sit com). And so much of the comedy translates because so much of the comedy is visual, or at least heavily supported by visuals. And so much of that visual comedy is western. Take for example the sexy teacher or librarian trope – that hidden behind the bun and thick glasses and conservative clothes rocks an urbane sex goddess wearing miniskirt stilettos contacts and loose flowing hair. That’s a uniquely western trope that doesn’t exist in India (maybe it does now, as a trope imported from the west). MHN is full of comedy and tropes like that which a westerner will understand in a heartbeat. Most Indian comedy films rely heavily on wordplay, puns, and political & religious references. MHN foregoes all of that, using relatively little dialogue and sprinkling that dialogue with so much English/Hinglish that you barely need to read the subtitles. For these reasons, it was a genuinely path breaking film in its era. To this day, if I want to introduce someone who’s never seen an Indian film – and doesn’t really know any Indian people or culture – to an Indian comedy, its Main Hoon Na, hands down.

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  7. Did anyone but me see 71/2 Phere? It has Juhi and Irrfan and it’s about a wedding, and I think it’s hilarious. My other funny movie is the infidelity comedy Dil Kabaddi, which has Rahul Bose, Irrfan, Soha and Konkona, all people who are great when they’re dramatic but can be really funny.

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  8. Golmaal? Chashme Buddoor? Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron?
    Would also recommend other Priyadarshan works – Hungama & Muskurahat (Kilukkam remake)

    Malayalam original of Hera Pheri was indeed superior, but it’s highly debatable as to who among Innocent or Paresh Rawal was better! Maybe you can settle it someday!

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    • I thought about all of those! Golmaal and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron are great, but don’t translate as well. And Chashme Buddoor is more of a romance, to me, than a comedy.

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      • It’s fine if you’d thought about it!
        These are the revered Hindi comedy all time classics in India… and from your list: Chupke Chupke, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, Andaz Apna Apna, Hera Pheri & Munnabhai series.

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  9. I found Golmaal more funny than Chupke Chupke.The way Amol Palekar and his filmi friend go about shopping for a fake mom -What a pity Nirupa Roy is out of town, Aruna Irani is too sexy and so on.Can we have it for the Friday Classics some time soon?

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    • I do have Golmaal sitting on my DVD shelf starring at me, so maybe!

      On Mon, May 7, 2018 at 9:23 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  10. Those are all of my favourite movies..except for son of sardar and judwaa(but it is funny)..why is that(son of sardar) in the list?

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    • I really like it! No reason besides that. I think Ajay mugging for the camera is funny, and I enjoy the lighthearted take on feudal feuds.

      On Tue, May 8, 2018 at 12:13 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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