In one of Indian cinema’s finest climax sequences in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, a clueless and helpless Dhritrashtra asks around, ‘Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai’, amid the chaos created by Draupadi’s ‘cheer-haran’ and Salim-Anarkali’s love story. Every time you watch it, you cannot help but marvel at it, and the film. But a sit down with its team will make you realise that apart from the one scene, there was a Dhritrashtra in everyone involved with the classic.
“No one knew what was being made, honestly,” says Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who was the production controller on the film. “We all were like Dhritrashtra. We were all the time thinking to ourselves that what was happening. Everyone was just shooting but not knowing what they were shooting,” adds Sudhir Mishra, who co-wrote its screenplay with director Kundan Shah. He was also an assistant on the film.
Sudhir Mishra, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Satish Kaushik, who co-wrote the dialogues and also starred in the film, and playwright Ranjit Kapoor, another dialogue writer on the movie, went down the memory lane on Sunday remembering Kundan Shah, who passed away last week, and late actor Om Puri, one of the cast members of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. All four, unanimously, agreed that had it not been for Kundan’s madness, the 1983 comedy, which is one of the gems of Indian cinema, would not have been possible. “Kundan used to say that there is grace in nonsense. He used to believe in it and that’s what he tried doing with Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro,” Vidhu said.
Reminiscing about the making of the movie, the veterans shared anecdotes about the madcap that Kundan Shah was.
1. Kundan Shah was busy selling tickets to the film’s cast on its premiere night.
Kaushik recalls how on the premiere night, the film’s cast thought they would be welcomed like big stars, instead they were left buying tickets to watch the film from their director. “On the premiere night, we thought we will be big stars. We went to Maratha Mandir. It was the first NFDC film to have a premiere there. We thought we will be welcomed with red carpet. Instead of that, Kundan was standing outside with tickets in his hands and we were buying tickets from him. When we came and said lets go, he was like ‘What go? First pay for the tickets I bought.’
2. Kundan Shah signed Om Puri in a local train.
Sudhir Mishra revealed that he and Kundan Shah found Om Puri at Bandra station and the director decided to narrate him the script of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. “He was at Bandra station going for a shoot. Kundan narrated him the script on the train. He said yes and hadn’t even read the script. On the last day, during the Mahabharat scene, he tells us ‘Yaar ye toh achchi script hai (This is actually a good script).’
3. Anupam Kher’s role of a blind killer got cut, owing to film’s long duration.
Anupam Kher played a character called Disco Killer, but the role had to be chopped out, which left the actor heart-broken. “Nobody knew what was being made, to be honest. It was 7 to 8 hours long when it came to the edit table. We all thought he (Kundan Shah) was a mad man. I told Anupam, ‘Your role is cut.’ He said, ‘Please don’t cut it too much.’ I said, ‘No. It has been cut.’ He asked, ‘How much has it been cut?’ I told him, ‘The entire role has gone from the film!’ Vidhu Vinod Chopra recalled.
4. Vidhu Vinod Chopra took on a role in the film to save Rs 2000!
The filmmaker narrated the story behind his casting, which was unknown to the film’s director till Vidhu Vinod Chopra actually landed up on set in the costume.
“There was an actor I selected for the role and had agreed to pay him Rs 500 for the four-day shoot. He thought it was Rs 500 per day. Just before shooting, he wanted Rs 2000. I tried to bargain, ‘that take 1500, 1000,’ but he didn’t budge. Then I lost it. The costume came and I was like, ‘Give it to me.’ When I started wearing it, that fellow said, ‘Ok I’ll do it. I said Rs 500?’ He said yes. I said, ‘Give me Rs 500.’ Kundan didn’t have any idea. When I came on set wearing that costume, he went ‘What the hell are you doing?!’ I told him, ‘Just shoot. I am saving you Rs 2000!’
5. The film’s title came from a song that never made it to the movie.
Ranjit Kapoor and Satish Kaushik revealed that they had written a song, “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro”, which shows dejected Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Baswani talking to a dog. “They are singing the song to the dog. It was an emotional sequence. It didn’t make it to the final cut but from there, we got the film’s title. So, whatever happened, happened for the better,” Kapoor said.