In Sai Paranjpye’s charming Katha (1983), confidence trickster Bashu (Farooque Shaikh) juggles many hats, and the three verses of Tum Sundar Ho (You are beautiful) cleverly capture Bashu’s simultaneous hat-trick win over lower middle class chawl resident Sandhya (Deepti Naval), Boss Dhindoria’s glamorous trophy wife Anuradha (Mallika Sarabhai), and his cheeky teenage daughter Jojo (Winnie Parajpye Joglekar).

The first verse is set in a natural world of shells, sand and sea. A buggy ride on the shore and the spontaneous energy of youngsters splashing about in the water is the perfect setting for Bashu to throw back his head, look up at the smiling blue sky and promise rainbows forever to the trusting Sandhya. The rhythm and lyrics of this verse makes one expect a typical love song to soar forth.

It doesn’t.

Night club crooner (Sudha Chopra) takes over the second verse and turns the same song into a seductive overture for Bashu, who is smitten by the beautiful Anuradha, with her silken tresses, flashing dark eyes, crimson lips and golden evening wear. Over candlelight, Anuradha smilingly tastes a love sweeter than wine while Bashu clasps her hand to his cheerfully cheating heart.

The third verse cuts to Bashu and Jojo dressed in glitzy costumes amidst hip teenagers in a discotheque. The song is now a snappy duet in which Bashu and Jojo merrily spar and spat. More confident than Sandhya or Anuradha, who are silent through their rapturous moments with Bashu, the sharp-tongued and coyless Jojo declares herself to be indeed beautiful. The vigorous rhythm of this verse allows its lyrics to drown in teenybopper gibberish.

With spot-on mood music from Raj Kamal (who sings with Preeti Sagar and Paranjpye Joglekar) Indu Jain’s lyrics make Tum Sundar Ho an unmissable six-and-a-half minutes of Katha.

Tum Sundar Ho from Katha.