Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bollywood Essentials: Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron(1983)


Last week, on the occasion of Diwali, Ryan McNeil at The Matinee unveiled his Bollywood Syllabus that yours truly and Nikhat designed for him. Ryan has never seen a Hindi movie and after his previous anime syllabus, when he showed interest in doing something similar with Hindi movies, we jumped on it and this is what we think will help him at least get acquainted with Hindi Cinema. I am really excited to see how this panes out, hopefully he will actually like some of the movies from the list and more than anything else, he will enjoy watching them. When I thought about doing this Bollywood Essential post, I wanted to do something from the list and then I remembered that one of the movies in the list in being re-released this very month in its digitally remastered format. So, it's time for me to talk about cult-classic film from 1983, certainly one of the best comedies made in Hindi film industry - Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron(1983). 

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron opens up with opening of Beauty Photo Studio operated by two photographers, Sudhir and Vinod. They have been waiting for more than couple of hours for their guests and none have arrived so far. The problem is, nearby there is another studio opening which is much bigger and is stealing all their thunder. This studio is set-up by Ashok and his girlfriend Priya, who work for one of the biggest and most powerful but also equally corrupt builders in the city, Taneja. Taneja has asked them to set it up so that they can keep an eye on office of activist magazine Khabardar, right across the street from them. Run by its editor Shobha Sen, Khabardar has been trying for a long time to expose Taneja and his corrupt ways that have taken him to the current position. After knowing about the photo studio set-up, Shobha tries to hire Sudhir and Vinod to run her own sting operation on Taneja. Sudhir and Vinod are very straight forward kind of people that want to have their small photo studio and run it but they have a habit of running into their own trap every single time, without fail. They are kind of goofy, little stupid but are good at their jobs. Taneja has internal setting with municipal commissioner D'Mello which allows him to get all the permits for everything he wants the way he wants. He also gets all major contracts for the city as well as. As Sudhir and Vinod's first assignment for Khabardar, Shobha asks them to take few photos of D'Mello's meeting with Taneja. After meeting them, she realizes that both are incredibly stupid but at least they get their work done and she probably can use their goofiness for her own good. So, she offers them another job which is a little more dangerous - they somehow have to break into D'Mello's guest house where Taneja is going to meet him to get his 4 tenders for the fly-over's passed. She also expects a lot of money to exchange hands.

However, Taneja isn't the only one who has big dreams and is ready to get his hands wet in an attempt to achieve them. Among others, these is Ahuja - Taneja's main business rival. There is a very well thought contrast in the characters of Taneja and Ahuja suggesting the face you put on for everyone does not make you a person you are - Taneja is very sophisticated, soft spoken person who comes off as a otherwise likable whereas Ahuja is a drunkard, brutish even in his manner of speaking and a hooligan. Even though they are so much different, their final goal is same and even Ahuja knows that the only way to get his hands on any of those contracts passes through D'Mello's pocket. Unfortunately for D'Mello though, Ahuja pops up at his house at the same time Taneja is there to get D'Mello's signature. That night, they both realize that D'Mello is playing them both, basically to get more money. They decide to meet at another place to sort out their differences so that third person can not take advantage of it. While they are discussing this, they are told that neither of them has got those contracts as someone else has already signed them. Now that they have been double-crossed, Taneja decides that he has to take care of D'Mello. Sudhir and Vinod are following Taneja everywhere, even when they thing it is too dangerous for them. Shobha knows that they are more interested in her than her job and uses it brilliantly with everything she's got to coax them into doing anything she wants. However they discover something way out of their league completely inadvertently and what follows is a race of truth against power, integrity against money. Keep an eye out for the final chase sequence though as it is unforgettable, especially Mahabharat farce which is officially my 'most watched scene ever'.
 
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron was much more like a passion product for most of the involved. Most of the cast and crew were just out of their respective degrees from National School of Drama in New Delhi or some other film school and none of them had any sort of stable career by then. Lot of actors didn't even take any money to work in it, they did it as a stepping stone for their career. In hindsight, it feels like a miracle to see so many well known faces of the industry together in a film as in 30 years since this movie, many of the actors have reached different heights in their respective careers. With likes of Nasseruddin Shan, Om Puri, Sathish Shah, Pankaj Kapoor and Satish Kaushik, this is probably the best ensemble of the character actors Hindi cinema has to offer and despite that, director Kundan Shah made this movie in a budget of 725,000 INR. Now-a-days, movies have marketing budget that is 10 times bigger than that. Even the look and feel of this movie tells you that it is a low budget movie but what they lack with money, they compensate it with passion. Now this whole movie is played out as a dark comedy, a satire on deeply rooted corruption in almost every stream - in bureaucracy, business, media or even politics. One thing that I frequently go back to defend this movie is Monty Python and any of their movies. Their movies usually play like an all out farce but have a strong social commentary that goes with it. With a lot of over the top acting and many unbelievable situations like appearance and disappearance of coffin, characters feel like almost caricatures of themselves. Shobha seems like only person that knows what she is doing but as in Monty Python, that is pretty much intention here.

Every character in the movie is a parody of something similar that does exist in a real world, none of which is too subtle or even too smart, maybe a little too parodied for some. However at the heart of all this stupidity and parody is very serious introspection of society and its ways which holds surprisingly true even after almost 30 years since its release. As I explained above in case of Taneja and Ahuja, all the characters are well-thought. Script takes various turns, some of which may feel extraneous but even the small events have something more to say than meets the eye. Take scene under the bridge where a cop takes Sudhir and Vinod's ticket money from them for no reason for example or their fight with Shobha in the end. All in all, it is a remarkably timeless take on very human quality of greed or self-importance against moral or ethical standards.
Rating(out of 5):





Previous Essentials:
Satya(1998)
Sholay(1975) 

9 comments:

  1. Great review! I love your line about using Monty Python movies as a defense. :-)

    I've never seen a Hindi movie, and I need to remedy that. I'm bookmarking the Bollywood Syllabus.

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    1. Thanks !! I love Monty Python, they are some of the funniest movies I have seen but I never believe that any of their characters can exist and probably that is one of the reasons why they work so well.

      Keep an eye out for Ryan's posts. Maybe you will get an inspiration you need to watch certain Hindi movies. :)

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  2. If I'm not wrong kundan shah was FTI student. He made this movie as part of his project at FTI. That was huge success. Thus he decided to commercialize it and refracted with real actors.

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    1. I have no idea about that story. Either ways, I am thankful that he did this movie. :)

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  3. This was real fun!! Its been long time I saw it, but still alive in my mind. real fun..

    Upcoming Bollywood Movies List

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    1. I am so glad you enjoyed it as much. Thanks for stopping by !!

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  4. This is a seriously good book I recommend about the movie: http://jaiarjun.blogspot.com/p/jaane-bhi-do-yaaro.html

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    1. Ata he kuthe Milnar ?? Thanks though. :)

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  5. This review is an utter rubbish, its not even a well-structured review

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