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April 22, 2011

Book Review - 22 : Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro - Seriously funny since 1983

Publisher: Harper Collins India

In the 1980s, an unheralded Hindi movie, made on a budget of less than Rs 7 lakh, went from a quiet showing at the box office to developing a reputation as India's definitive black comedy. Some of the country's finest theatre and film talents - all at key stages of their careers - participated in its creation, but the journey was anything but smooth. Kundan Shah's JBDY is now a byword for the sort of absurdist, satirical humour that Hindi cinema just hasn't seen enough of. This is the story of how it came to be despite incredible odds - and what it might have been.

Jaane Bhi do Yaaron has been one of my all time favourite films. This black comedy makes a satirical attempt at the state of the nation, which is sadly as relevant in 2011 as it was in 1983 when it was first released. At the face of it, the movie has the best talents from both movie and theatre business working together in one project. Come to think of it - Naseer, Om Puri, Pankaj Kapoor, Satish Shah, Neena Gupta, Satish kaushik, Ravi Bhaswani and Bhakti Bharve (a big name in Marathi cinema at that time); each one more powerful than the other, but all at almost start of their careers. This book should have been a straight pick for me.

However, in recent times i have been skeptical to read any film related books. My previous similar attempts in this category have been a little disappointing to say the least. These include books like The Spirit of Lagaan by Satyajit Bhaktal (who has written and directed this week's new release, Zokkomon) and Bollywood - the Indian Cinema Story by Nasreen Munni Kabir (who has recently released A.R. Rahman biography, The Spirit of Music). The major reason why these books have left me underwhelmed was because you read so much about movies through newspapers, magazines and social networking websites; there is hardly anything new left to explore. Moreover, reading just about one movie in whole 200 odd pages can be clunky and exhausting. But when Bookchums provided me a copy for winning one of their contests to Jai Arjun's interview (penultimate question is asked by me), i decided to shun my apprehensions and take the plunge.

Divided into four different sections, the book starts from the various unplanned events which led to the making of this film. I was actually surprised to know how much work Ranjit Kapoor (director of Rishi Kapoor starrer, Chintuji) put in the film right from script to pre-production to the final release of the movie. The narrative interspersed with the conversations of cast and crew adds a unique dimension to the book.Apart from this, there are so many nuggets to savour from the book which could not make it to the final film: A talking Gorilla who analyses the human condition, A disco-killer (played by Anupam Kher) who is short-sighted and a few more funny moments with the DeMello's (played by Satish Shah) corpse. The pace is brisk, there is not too much dwelling on any incident and you are exposed to little stories which went in making this movie.

In the end, as the author has himself claimed, the books suffers from over analysis. After all, how much you can analyse each and every plot point without sounding repetitive. I seriously thought the book could have been structured a little differently. There are certain scenes which make umpteen appearances in various chapters when discussed with different point of views of film-making. Probably, this could have been avoided to make the book more concise. But with impeccable research about the movie, it keeps you engaged for most parts. There is an desirable charm and lightness in the tone of the book, which keeps you hooked.

I am going with 3.5/5 for Jai Arjun's Jaane bhi do yaaron - seriously funny since 1983. If you loved the movie, you will like reading the intricacies of it. It's a timeless cult classic, a movie to be seen 28 years down the line and still enjoyed as much you did the first time around. The book just enhances the experience to a new level. Don't miss out. And i look forward in reading more from the Harper Collins Film series soon!


shooting star said...

JBDY is one of my favorite films till date.....i can watch it over & over......

Amit Gupta said...

@Shooting Star

Same here, thanks :)