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Monday, May 17, 2021

Ten things you might not know about Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro

Kundan Shah directorial Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, starring Naseeruddin Shah, Ravi Baswani, Om Puri, Pankaj Kapur, Satish Shah, Satish Kaushik, Bhakti Barve and Neena Gupta, was released on August 12, 1983.

Written by Nimish Dubey |
Updated: August 12, 2020 9:06:54 pm
Jaane Bhi Do YaaroIt is 37 years since the release of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. (Express archive photo)

August 12 marks the day on which perhaps one of the most hilarious films in Indian film history was released. Yes, this was the day on which Kundan Shah’s iconic Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro saw the light of day, or rather the lights of theaters in India. Almost forty years after its release, the film remains a landmark in Bollywood for its dark humour, and some of the scenes in it – from Naseeruddin Shah and Satish Kaushik talking on the phone in the same room to a gatecrashed Mahabharat scene have become almost a part of our daily lives. Many of the cast members like Naseeruddin Shah, Satish Shah, Satish Kaushik, Om Puri, Pankaj Kapoor, Ravi Baswani became household names (some were already so).

And yet, even though JBDY (as so many now call it) has been with us for almost four decades, there is a lot about the film that is not well-known. Believe us, there are stories and incidents around the film that are as amazing as that Mahabharat scene, enough to make you wonder like Dhritarashtra so memorably in the film: “Ye Kya Ho Raha Hai (what is happening?)”

So as we say Happy Birthday to Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, here are ten lesser-known facts about this laugh riot:

The title was based on a song…which got left out

Where did the name of the film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro come from? Well, it came from a song, written by Satish Kaushik and Ranjit Kapoor. The song was supposed to be the title track of the film, and feature Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Baswani singing it…to a dog! The irony is that the song itself did not make it to the film. In fact, JBDY is one of the few Bollywood films to have no songs in it whatsoever.

Anupam Kher was supposed to be there…as Disco Killer

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro has one of the most talented casts ever seen in a single film. And it could have been even better. Anupam Kher was supposed to have been part of the cast, as a character called Dico Killer. Disco Killer was supposed to be an assassin with an eyesight problem – he hits a mango when he aims at a man, but assures people he will hit a man…when he aims at a mango. That would have been something! Not surprisingly, Kher was heartbroken at the decision to remove his character from the film.

Everyone’s favourite scene…did not make it to the film

One of the iconic moments of the film is when an intoxicated Om Puri starts talking to the “dead body” of Satish Shah, and ends up giving him a lift. Well, evidently there was another scene where Puri even plays chess with a dead Satish Shah. The best part? The dead man wins. Ranjit Kapoor says that though the scene was in the script and was many people’s favourite, it was never shot. Such a pity!

Dushaasan was cast at the last minute…and was the 3 Idiots Man!

Remember that amazing Mahabharat scene in the climax of the film? Well, the person who played Dushaasan was actually Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who was the production controller of the film (yes, the same Vidhu Vinod Chopra who is behind films like 3 Idiots, Munnabhai MBBS and PK). But he was not meant to play the role. The actor who had been given the role demanded an increase in payment just before the scene. An irritated Chopra put on the costume and make-up, and stepped in for the scene. He did a very good job too. Refresh your memories here:

And this wasn’t the only case of someone from the production side being pulled into the cast. Production manager Deepak Qazir was pulled in to do the now epic “Gutter” speech at the demise of Satish Shah’s character in the film. Once again, it was not planned. Once again, it worked. Qazir was deadpan brilliant!

It could have been EIGHT hours long

At about two hours and twelve minutes, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro is not what you would call a long film by Bollywood standards. After all, Sholay was almost three and a half hours long, and most films are generally closer to three hours in duration than two. Well, that two hour and twelve-minute duration time came after a lot of editing. As per Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the film just went on and on and sometimes people had no idea what was happening, with only director Kundan Shah keeping the faith. The uncut film is reported to be almost seven to eight hours long. We do hope someone releases it. Some day. That would be some special edition.

Want to sign up an actor? Head to the local train

Om Puri, who plays a corrupt (and often drunk) real estate developer, is one of the most remembered characters of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. Well, he evidently signed up for the film while travelling in a local train. The director of the film Kundan Shah met Puri when the latter was at Bandra local station for a shoot. He narrated the plot to him, and according to many people, Puri signed up for the film without even reading the script!

The film was released in only four theaters…and even the stars got no passes

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro was released on August 12, 1983 in a total of just four theaters. And well, as budgets were tight, even the cast got no free tickets. Satish Kaushik recalls how he and other members of the cast arrived at the Maratha Mandir theatre, expecting a big film premiere, but were instead greeted by director Kundan Shah, who had tickets for the show. And he asked them to pay for them as well as he had bought them himself!

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro Ravi Baswani, Naseeruddin Shah and Bhakti Barve in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. (Express archive photo)

Had a shoestring budget…and still went over budget!

When Kundan Shah thought of making Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, he applied for a loan of Rs 4,00,000. But then, the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) decided to fund it. It set a budget of Rs 6,85,000 for the film. However, they went over budget, and the film eventually was made at a budget of Rs 7,25,000. That was a very paltry sum even in those days (Sholay reportedly a budget of almost Rs 2 crores). Director Kundan Shah used his FTII friends and alumni for the cast and crew in an attempt to keep costs low. Salaries were low (Naseeruddin Shah got Rs 15,000, Ravi Baswani a mere Rs 6,000), Food was very basic (lauki and daal) and many of the cast even remember sleeping on the floor! Tempers were frayed, and there were arguments, but everyone stuck to their task. Even then, the film was not initially considered a commercial success.

Naseer and the 2 am call – Albert Pinto ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai

One of the most hilarious scenes in the film and some say, one of the most hilarious scenes ever in Indian cinema involved Naseeruddin Shah and Satish Kaushik talking to each other on the phone in the same room. The scene is brilliantly directed and scripted with loads of puns and jibes (including a reference to one of Shah’s own films – Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai). But evidently Naseeruddin himself was not convinced about it as he found it illogical. The temperamental star that he was in those days, he did not want to shoot the scene and had to be convinced by the crew. Even Ravi Baswani was woken up to convince his co-star. The shoot went ahead at 2 am. The result? We are still laughing!

Writing the Mahabharat scene? Easy Peasy Apple Squeezie!

The script of JBDY kept changing even as the film was being made (no wonder it was seven to eight hours long). However, in the middle of all the writing mayhem, one scene went off easily and smoothly. Believe it or not, it was the chaotic Mahabharat scene at the climax of the film, Shah says he found it the easiest to write and direct! It remains insanely funny to this day.

..and one more thing

Legendary actor Aparna Sen was Kundan Shah’s first choice for the role of the newspaper editor, played by Bhakti Barve. Shah went to meet her in 1982 with the script. But Sen apparently dozed off while Shah was narrating the script. Shah says she later agreed to do the film, but changed her mind the next day, saying she did not understand the script.

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