ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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All That He Wanted Was to Make That Film

Kundan Shah (1947–2017)

Kundan Shah’s Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro went so far beyond ha-ha funny that it became, rather like the pivotal moment in its plot, some kind of instant snapshot of Bombay and the India, of that time. It captured something so gruesome that laughter became almost a last-resort action.

The first thing to say is, it is not funny. Kundan Shah never had any sense of humour. He had a sense of the wacky, he laughed easily, but he struggled to tell a joke. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983, henceforth JBDY) was, if anything, about the impossiblethe film was not meant to work. Shah was making it almost like it would be the only chance the film-maker would be given to use up footage and to shoot. He made it like he knew he would never make another. 

JBDY goes so far beyond ha-ha-funny that it becomes, rather like the pivotal moment in its plot, some kind of instant snapshot of Bombay (now Mumbai), and the India of that time: capturing something so gruesome that laughter became almost a last-resort action. This was an achievement that went beyond Shah, and it swallowed him. He even referred to it in a strange way, jumbling the words together into something that sounded a bit like janiybdoyroo. This was a film-maker who has made two major commercial hits, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994) and Kya Kehna (2000) and collaborated on a television series that would itself be a landmark, Nukkad (198687). And yet he would never transcend his first film, it remained the only film he had ever made or would ever make.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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