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Alcoholic paani puri anyone? When Om Prakash provided serious food for thought

In a mouth-watering scene, especially for alcohol lovers, the late actor gorged on a basket of paani puris that were soaked in whisky.

Mayur Lookhar

Remember the tomatoes thrown at Kader Khan’s character in Hum (1991)? Or the egg scene in Hum Hai Rahi Pyaar Ke (1993) Food is often used in cinema for memorable comic scenes. Hollywood, too, is guilty of spraying precious food, like in You Don’t Mess With the Zohan (2008) where Adam Sandler and Co are seen spraying hummus to extinguish a fire. A food item can serve up a humorous treat on the silver screen. A filmmaker just needs to know when and how to serve it. 

A week ago, Shah Rukh Khan had tweeted about his maddening experience while gorging gol gappas (also known as paani puri or puchkas) in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi 2008). Surinder Sahni/Raj (Khan) found himself in a  gol   gappa  eating competition with Tani (Anushka Sharma).


Scenes revolving around food have been aplenty in Bollywood. However, there’s one such gorging scene which stands out from the rest. Four decades ago, in Shakti Samanta’s Amar Prem (1972), starring Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore and Vinod Mehra, actor Om Prakash had a funny paani puri scene. Today (19 December) is Prakash's 97th birth anniversary. 

The character artist played drunkard Natwarlal in Amar Prem which was a remake of the Bengali film Nisha Padma (1970). Natwarlal's accent revealed he was a Bengali man, who liked his drink and his women. In one sequence, he takes two women out on a film date. When they insist on a treat of paani puris, Natwarlal gets the hawker to use whisky instead of the flavoured tamarind mixture. What a novel idea! Kudos to Samanta and his writers for this enlightening way to consume alcohol.

The film received several nominations that year at the Filmfare Awards, but won the Best Screenplay and Best Dialogue awards. Amar Prem is remembered particularly for Kishore Kumar’s evergreen tracks like 'Chingari Koi Bhadke', 'Yeh Kya Hua' and 'Kuch Toh Log Kahengey'.

Watch the funny paani puri scene here.