A dark satirical film like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro or its hilarious climax sequence with a stage-performance of the Mahabharata may not see the light of day in “today’s atmosphere”, claimed the film’s director Kundan Shah.
Shah, who received his only national award for the 1983 cult classic, is all set to return it on Thursday in Mumbai along with several others from his fraternity.
“A film like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro may not be sanctioned today because there’s a BJP government in place,” Shah told The Indian Express. “Not just the Mahabharata sequence, the film had several other things, including a reference to Indira Gandhi, which would have made it run into trouble even then. But it went without a single cut largely because it was produced by a government agency — the National Film Development Corporation. Today, such a film may never be allowed to be made or shown,” he said.
Shah, best known for this film and popular TV serials like Nukkad, decided to return his national award in protest against what he called “the growing darkness” in the country.
“It is not about the Congress or the BJP. Both are the same. My serial Police Station got banned when Congress was in power,” said Shah. Though Shah was given no formal reason by the government for not clearing the broadcast of that serial, he said he later got to know that the serial was termed “incendiary” and hence shot down.
An alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Shah did not hide his anguish about the state of affairs in the country. “So many things are happening simultaneously. See what happened in the FTII. Then, Shah Rukh Khan made a statement on intolerance and see the kind of reactions he’s got. The BJP is being autocratic and dictatorial,” he said, claiming that “people at lower levels” were being allowed to make provocative statements and get away with them. “It seems like a long-term strategy,” he added.
Asked why was he choosing to protest by returning his national award, Shah said, “It is because you see the darkness that is coming into the country…One has to take a stance before this darkness engulfs us completely.”