Verdict: Carelessly hilarious, carefully dark. A cult classic for every generation!
Sparing half a dozen movies in the past few decades, the Hindi film industry has not seen a rise in the making of films bearing satirical themes. Despite the few odd take-offs, Kundan Shah’s 1983 classic Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, is devastatingly troubling while it maintains a gleefully comfortable rapport with its viewer.
Struggling photographers Sudhir and Vinod turn owners of ‘Beauty Photo Studio’ to find themselves in dire luck. The photo studio otherwise deserted, finds an unexpected visitor Kamdar (Rajesh Puri) who brings work for the duo from a magazine publication house. After Shobha Sen, the editor for the local magazine Khabardaar pays a visit to the photo studio, Sudhir and Vinod decide to embark as fearless photographers for Khabardar to expose the scandals of the corrupt builders Taneja (Pankaj Kapur) and Ahuja (Om Puri), and Commissioner D’Mello (Satish Shah), among the others involved.
The story is thoughtful and reflects the churning of minds that must have gone behind writing the film. Kundan Shah’s team of actors including Naseeruddin Shah, Ravi Baswani, Bhakti Barwe, Satish Shah, Om Puri, Pankaj Kapur, Satish Kaushik and Neena Gupta form a rare ensemble that gel and create characters playful and loud, but yet, those imbibing the streaks of people whom we are surrounded by.
With a job that pays enough to survive on bananas, Vinod and his partner get lured when they come across an advertisement of a photography contest, the winning amount of which is Rs. 5000. While developing pictures in the dark room, they chance upon evidence in a photo, which then forms the opening of a murder mystery unearthing malpractices by unscrupulous money makers of Bombay.
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro stood the test of time since its making, thirty years back. Iconic scenes, dialogues and responses, and a director’s intelligent vision are extensively spoken of to this date. In a pacing second-half, the builders, the editor, the commissioner, photographers and a few more characters are shown doing all that’s crazy and all that’s loud; ultimately leading to a dramatic climax with the Draupadi Cheer Haran chapter from Mahabharata being staged by the actors. Despite the ridiculousness in some portions of the film, one cannot help but marvel at Kundan Shah’s ability to make a person cheer in favor of his film.
Apart from the intentional naming of the male leads (Sudhir Mishra and Vinod Chopra); Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro wittingly offers to show the dark side of a society where justice comes close, yet is distant for the honest. A staggering last frame where Sudhir Mishra and Vinod Chopra do a cut-throat enactment to symbolize the death of justice served adrenaline after the 130-minute long amusement ride. But yet, like the title intelligently takes a dig at our morality; you know they existed, you know they will, so… Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro.
Why should you watch this film?
It is very difficult to give one reason to watch this film since it outshines on multiple fronts. Watch this film since you haven’t seen anything as impressionable and yet as comical. Satires, aren’t they meant to do that?
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro is a title under the NFDC label ‘Cinemas of India’. The film is out on home video by NFDC.
By Soham Bhattacharyya