Film: Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
Director: Kundan Shah
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Ravi Baswani, Bhakti Barve, Satish Shah, Om Puri and Pankaj Kapoor
This one's an absolute delight. Films like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro come once in a while, and we are lucky to be the generation that witnesses the release of a film that will, in all probability, be given the 'classic' status in due time. My guess is that the film will be watched and re-watched by audiences at homes, in film clubs and probably in film schools as well. It will be considered a cult and its timeless appeal will never fade. But that's only a prediction.
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (JBDY) tops the list of little gems that have dotted Fridays this year. We whooped when Paan Singh Tomar ran that victory lap, watched in disbelief as Vidya Balan turned out to be a killer in Kahaani, enjoyed Barfi's antics, and left English Vinglish with smiles on our faces. But while these gems, along with the likes of Vicky Donor and Superman Of Malegaon, ensured we look back at 2012 with rare fondness, Kundan Shah's directorial debut will stand out.
At a time when multi-crore scams are a regular feature, and construction projects take years (Think Metro. On one occasion, a part of the under-construction bridge gave way), JBDY strikes a chord. Shah mirrors day-to-day tribulations in a comic manner, with themes like corruption, inflation and inequality running through the story. The director weaves these contemporary issues around a humour-laden but scathing script (Shah, Sudhir Mishra, Ranjit Kapoor Satish Kaushik do a splendid job) about two photographers struggling to eke out a living.
Vinod (Naseeruddin Shah) and Sudhir (Baswani) are the newest duo in Hindi cinema that play off each other's personalities to provide us with some truly entertaining moments (Jai-Veeru and Amar-Prem are other duos that come to mind). Vinod-Sudhir land a job that could earn them quick money, and for Vinod, a chance to be close to Shobha Sen (Barve), their employer and editor of Khabardar. Sen wants to expose the corrupt practices of Tarneja (Kapur), a wily builder who wins construction bids by greasing the palms of municipal commissioner D'Mello (Satish Shah). What starts as a regular job assignment soon turns into a murder mystery with Vinod-Sudhir finding themselves with a dead body and an uphill task of exposing the corrupt.
The film embodies the indie spirit, with its shoestring budget, largely unseen actors and young technicians. Yet, the result is commendable. Shah gets together a talented ensemble: Naseeruddin Shah and Baswani shoulder the story, while supporting actors like Kaushik, Neena Gupta, Bhakti Barve and Om Puri pitch in efficiently. Pankaj Kapoor is hateful as the builder and it'll be interesting to see the kind of work the actor takes on in future. Satish Shah is a riot as D'Mello. Cinematographer Binod Pradhan and editor Renu Saluja show immense promise.
My favourite JBDY scene (apart from a rib-tickling finale that is best discovered than described) has Tarneja being interviewed by a bunch of journalists atop a newly-constructed skyscraper, while the camera captures the working class moving to and fro work. It's a brilliant scene that remains consistent with the rest of the film.
Take a bow, Kundan Shah. And never stop making movies, please.