Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro will always be special

If ever one film earned anybody name and fame and now, immortality, it is what Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983) did for Kundan Shah. Besides being acclaimed as an all-time classic satire, the movie made Kundan a household name. However, there are many special asides to the Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro story that not many would be aware of.

The film was financed by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) which usually extended finance up to Rs 4 lakh per film after stringent approvals. Today, this sum may sound laughable because even the production cost of a TV episode is higher. In total Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro cost Rs 7.44 lakh to make. The end result was a marvel — it was so many things rolled into one film — from a whodunit, satire and chase to finally turning into a costume drama. It had just about every formula packed into a single film.

A graduate in film direction from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro was Kundan’s first film and almost all his FTII batch mates joined him to help taking on various odd jobs during the the making of the film. Most of them attained much fame in their own right in the days to follow, winning awards and rewards. The film looked more like a co-operative enterprise on the basis of ‘All For One, One For All’.

Besides the actors from FTII, the list of qualified technicians who helped see the film through is quite impressive: Vidhu Vinod Chopra not only did a cameo in the film but also helped as a production controller. Sudhir Mishra, a cowriter in the story screenplay department, also did a cameo; Renu Saluja, who sadly died young, edited the film and went on to become a highly respected film editor. Binod Pradhan, again a celebrated cinematographer in the years to come was very much a part of this film. Aditya Arya, who shot the working stills of the film, is today one of the most celebrated photographers and a camera collector in India based out of Delhi. Pavan Malhotra, who went on to become the romantic lead in the popular serial Nukkad, helped as a production manager as well as handled the costume department. It is great that he is now back with many acting assignments in films.

The making of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro is full of such names who went onto become celebrities in their own right, winning many awards but carried on their FTII bonhomie throughout the making of this film.

In those days, FTII was the main source of talent supply to the film industry. However, the irony was that, the regular commercial producers were averse to these ‘trained’ wiz kids. For, in those days, like in other businesses, training was to be achieved only on the job, not at an institution or so the theory went.

While some of the actors who came out of the FTII passed muster, it was the directors who usually failed to make a cut. A lot of them were simply ejected from the industry after one film. But, most did not even get an entry into a commercial producer’s office. These unwelcome aspirants lined up outside the NFDC. Kundan Shah was one of them.

The NFDC kind of films were known as parallel cinema and, as per the name, existed on a different wavelength. They were never meant to merge with films made for a mass audience. Eventually, some NFDC filmmakers did realize that filmmaking was not all about art but also involved commerce and that making money was a part of their passion.

The best thing that happened to Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro was the endorsement of the film by a mainstream filmmaker Romu Sippy. Sippy ran a production house and jointly with Hrishikesh Mukherjee was responsible fgor such acclaimed films as Anand, Guddi, Golmaal, Chupke Chupke and many more. When Sippy deciced to put his weight behind and invest in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro he turned the films fortunes around overnight. Sippy acquired the distribution rights of the film for the Bombay circuit as well as the Delhi UP circuit, the two major revenue chunks, cost wise as well as the coverage wise.

This worked like magic and within 24 hours, all distribution circuits of JaaneBhi Do Yaaro were closed. A rare feat for such a small film and an NFDC one at that.

K undan later teamed up with his FTII colleague Saeed Mirza and his   brother, Aziz Mirza, to form a company to make TV serials. For years they ruled the roost at Doordarshan, the only TV channel available in those days, and made some of DD’s best TV features including Nukkad, Intezaar, Manoranjan, Wagle Ki Duniya and so on. Kundan made a few commercial films as well. While he is better known for Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa because it starred Shah Rukh Khan who went on to become a star, it was Kya Kehna a film about a unwed preganacy starring Preity Zinta and Saif Ali Khan that worked at the box office. Whatever Kundan Shah did for the remainder in his working life, he is best remembered for Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro.

@ The Box Office

*Time the release wrong and it is the film which pays a heavy price. Much beyond its demerits. Pre-Diwali is the dullest period to release a new film but, even the best of production houses with years of standing still go ahead and do it. T-Series released Chef during this dull period and, when asked, the explanation was that the weeks ahead were crowded with multiple releases! This explanation showed a total lack of confidence in your own product where you have invested somewhere around Rs 25+ crore!

So, was it the wise thing to do to release afilm at a time when nobody cares to  visit the cinema just to done with it? Did the producers of Chef just commit financial suicide? Sure, Judwaa 2 released during this dull period as well but that film had the advantage of a long four day weekend with two additional national holidays! That was an exception, not an example.

Also, Judwaa 2 featured a rising star in Varun Dhawan and had the advantage of being the remake of the 1997 Salman Khan hit, Judwaa, with the common director, David Dhawan, at the helm.

Chef, is what can be called a family fare. The film had nothing going for it besides fading star Saif Ali Khan. Its promotion efforts were lacklustre and the film paid the price. The movie faced rejection on day one by failing to reach even the Rs 1 crore mark. It fared equally bad on day two though there was a little improvement but, how do you expect a film to pick up when there is no promotion and, hence, no awareness about it? The scene at some theatres on Day 1 was so bad, that exhibitors cancelled shows of Chef and gave them to Judwaa 2 instead!

The film will end its opening week with collections of around Rs 5 crore.

*Another watchable film which went unnoticed last Friday was Tu Hi Mera Sunday. It is a pleasant film but not worth watching at multiplex admission rates. Somewhere, the exhibition trade is killing the same business they expect to earn monies from! The film went totally completely unnoticed.

* 2016: The End won’t even leave a trace.

*Judwaa 2, though released during a dull period had so much going for it. It was the remake of a successful franchise, starred an upcoming star and was backed by a four day weekend. It collected by leaps and bounds and, then, continued to do well even in its second week in the face of poor new releases.  The film ended its first week with as much as Rs 96.1 crore and even continued to do fairly well during its second weekend. It is expected to add about another Rs 24 crore to its kitty during its second weekend. The film should end its two week run with approximately Rs 120 crore.

*Newton has added Rs 5.7 crore in its second week to take its two week total to Rs 16.95 crore.