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A Satire Par Excellence


Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro 1983

It was a satire on the murky happenings in a big city. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro explored the nexus between the big business men, the politicos and the press who would go all out and are ready to stoop to any level, back-stab or front stab for that matter, to get their own pound of flesh. The city in question is none other than Amchi Mumbai here.

Adorned with the class actors of the then art cinema world, the cast of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro is led by Nasseruddin Shah, Pankaj Kapur, Om Puri, and Ravi Baswani and not to forget the dead meat Satish Shah because of whom the whole mad bungle in concrete jungle happens. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro was a story by Sudhir Mishra and the talented Kundan Shah who also directed it. It seemed the story developed itself as it was being filmed, with incidents happening one after the other in sequence and taking the story forward at good pace infused with dry humor, dark humor and some over the top slap stick too. One could visualize many layers of comic satire. It was inspired from the English movie ‘Blow Up’. It was released on 12th August 1983.

The plot of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro revolves around the builder lobby of which Tarneja (Pankaj Kapur) and Ahuja (Om Puri) are the two big guns and are after contracts to build bridges in Bombay with the help of the Bombay Municipal commissioner D’Mello (Satish Shah) who himself is out to triple cross them both. Our protagonists the two photographers Vinod Chopra (Nasseruddin Shah) and Sudhir Mishra (Ravi Baswani) after a ruinous start to their photo studio are hired by the cunning Shobha Sen (Bhakti Barve) Editor of Khabardar newspaper to expose the nexus between Tarneja and the Commissioner D’Mello, she has own ulterior motives for this. While clicking away all over the city to enter a contest they accidentally capture the murder of D’Mello at the hands of Tarneja. On visiting the crime spot they find a cufflink of D’Mello but not the corpse which they unearth near the newly inaugurated D’Mello bridge in the commissioner’s loving memory and carry it with themselves to expose Tarneja’s wheeling dealings, the corpse keeps changing hands in one hilarious situation to another when in the final act it lands up on stage where the drama Mahabharat’s Draupadi disrobing scene is being enacted with the Corpse playing the dead pan Draupadi. Finally when the police arrives and our heroes point fingers and proofs of the whole game on the trio of Tarneja, the new commissioner and Ahuja but the tables are turned with the help of Ms. Sen and the clickeratti duo lands up in jail instead.

The Mahabharata climax is now considered a cult scene and was an absolute riot, it is one of the most talked about scenes when one talks about any comic scene enacted in Bollywood having many copycats. Some of the dialogues are rippers, like when Ahuja claims his share-holding of Draupadi or the way he says ‘Oye kya prablam hai’ or the ‘thoda khao, thoda fenko’. The acting of characters in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro is top class, while Om Puri is boisterous, Pankaj Kapur is shifty and seedy and the two Photographers are goofy to the extent that one feels sorry for them. The names given to the protagonists are actually the names of two famous Bollywood directors who were assisting Kundan Shah in this movie.

Though the movie Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro started off slowly as it was a genre not attempted before but picked up as the public understood the satire. Some real life incidents were referred to like the Byculla bridge collapse in the early ‘80s. The film is shot on actual location at the Y-bridge of Byculla. The Mahabharat scene was a metaphor for the ruling class disrobing or looting the resources and the people of the city. The movie Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro was produced by NFDC at a shoe string budget of about 9 lakhs. It also has a Case study book by the name ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro: Seriously Funny Since 1983’ by Jai Singh and published by Harper Collins. This movie should be seen to be believed.

Revisited by PAWAN GUPTA


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