A month and a half before the 1983s cult classic was re-released by PVR, I laid my hands over Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, the book written by Jai Arjun Singh. And, as I’ve said before the only thing as interesting as watching movies is to read about them. So, I bought the book to read about what went behind making this classic and I found out that Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro is a labour of love, passion and a lot of madness.
As I was reading the book the re-release was announced and it only made sense that I watch it, again but this time on a bigger screen. And I am writing this post just after watching the film, the madness, the satire and the message which is still as relevant as it was back then. This post is not a review. It’s about my experiences with the film clubbed with a little trivia from Jai Arjun Singh’s book. I would like to thank him for writing it and taking me closer to the film I’ve loved and lived.
I don’t exactly remember how old I was when I first watched Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, around 10-11 maybe. Not too old to understand the darkness of it but old enough to understand that there was something more behind that laughter and insanity. Growing up watching my dad’s plays (he is a theatre actor and director in Gorakhpur) helped in a way to develop that kind of understanding. I remember when I watched the last scene I asked my dad if Sudhir and Vinod died. His explanation was that it’s just metaphorical, to explain in one scene that “phansta common man he hai.” I wasn’t too convinced and was taken aback by the sinister hand movement of slitting throat. It was a direct, in your face statement telling us that this is the reality. The laughter and comedy is just a mask. Dad wanted an ending inspired by this for a play he was directing called ‘Wey Hi‘. As I remember the play, he managed to do that pretty well.
Then came a time when the film was watched multiple times and some of the dialogues became a part of our conversations. We still say “shant gadadhari Bheem shant” when someone is worked up or “CIA, humko bahar tak chod aiye” when we are seeing each other off. “Adharmi, paapi, bhrashtachari, durachari, bol sorry!” is our favourite line to abuse. According to Satish Kaushik who wrote the dialogues, the most loved Mahabharat scene was the easiest to write. A trip to a road-side comic vendor was all it took for them to figure out a befitting scene to conclude the madness.
Surprisingly, Kundan Shah didn’t imagine the final product the way we see it now. A lot of scenes that were close to his heart were mercilessly chopped off. Reason was that it needed to be shorter than 2 hours 25 minutes to reduce the taxation. A little known fact that Anupam Kher too was a part of the film took me by surprise when I read the book. He played a mad Disco Killer and was envied by everyone for bagging the craziest role. But the whole footage was chopped off to shorten the length of the film. Sadly, there’s no record of Anupam Kher’s first ever film since the footage was lost. Imagine if we had that character in the movie it could’ve beaten Crime Master Gogo in creating that genre of villains. There are more such scenes which were edited out much to Kundan Shah and Ranjit Kapoor’s (co writer) grief.
A couple of scenes were inspired from Kundan Shah’s real life experiences one of them was the whole satire built around ‘gutter’. In today’s time of Aquaguard and Kent Water Purifier we might not understand the irony behind the dialogue, “America mein gutter ka pani alag aur peene ka pani alag” but it was and still is the reality for many people who still get drinking water as bad as the water in their sewers.
Kundan Shah is honest in accepting that Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro could’ve been much better but with the limitations they had it’s hard to do even now what he and his team did back then. Their were a lot of patchworks to hide the continuity disasters and shooting mishaps. And still we know that a better movie in this genre has not been made again.
The madness is only enhanced by the brilliant actors who despite thinking that whatever was happening was insane kept playing along. While shooting ‘Albert Pinto’ scene Naseeruddin Shah thought that two people standing in the same room and talking over phone with each other was plain stupid but he still enacted the scene with full conviction. Every actor added his/her two bits in the character and made it his own. Om Puri’s exaggerated Punjabi accent, dead DeMello’s changing expressions according to what’s happening in the scene, Pankaj Kapoor’s dead pan and sinister Tarneja and to top it all Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Vaswani’s innocence and buffoonery was par excellence.
A film like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro can not be made again and that is why we go and watch it in theatres 30 years after it was first released; cheering, clapping and mouthing the dialogues along the scenes, “aisi sati ki jai ho…jai ho!“