Abdul Rehman Antulay, an old guard Congress Chief Minister, reigned over Maharashtra's biggest political scandal ever; the infamous Cement scandal of late 1970s-early 80s. This scandal probably triggered Kundan Shah's timeless masterpiece 'Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro' (JBDY)
It was a dark madcap satire that took pot shots at the then prevailing corrupt system of 1980s urban India; A movie that brought together an ensemble of some of the most amazingly funny characters ever witnessed in an Indian movie. Co-Produced by the venerable NFDC, JBDY turned into a cult classic and has been ranked by IndiaTimes amongst the 25 'must see' movies of Indian Cinema.
This movie got made at a paltry sum of 7 lac Indian Rupees. (This is probably equivalent to SRK's driver's salary now).
JBDY, was a refreshing way to look at a system that had decayed beyond repair. The despair of 1980s India got reflected in a unique way in this movie. When a system overwhelms you so much that you almost become numb and the only way to deal with it is to laugh if off, that's what JBDY did. In fact the title itself identified with that emotional numbness of 1980s youth. It almost became the mantra of Indian way of life - Jaane Bhi Do Yaar - "just let it go dude, move on".
No power, move on. No roads, move on. No jobs, move on. Corrupt Politician, no worries, just move on. JBDY in a weird way relieved that stress that captivates us all at some point. Whether it is the prevailing geo-political condition or socio-economic one. At some point we just say .. "Forget it. Just Move On".
Apart from the outrageously comic Mahabharat-Akbar scene near the end of the movie, there are some other super hilarious scenes I can always easily recollect. The one when Taneja (Pankaj Kapoor) interrupts a conversation with his Chief Site Engineer midway to spread perfume under his armpits, the Time Bomb scene during the supposed compromise meeting between the two builders that blows off 30 mins too late (mocking in a way the Indian Standard Time), the rat scene with security guards and my favorite one - the one where Pankaj Kapoor ,his sidekick(played by Satish Kaushik) and secretary Neena Gupta get stuffed inside the commissioner's bathroom and the chaotic,panic mode conversation that follows thereafter.
This movie almost redefined 'method to madness'. Built around two losers, played by Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Vaswani who get outsmarted by the big bad world around them and that ends with their "hum honge kamyab.." hopelessness is still endearing. It is movie that was always going to retain it's contemporary feeling, because the issues it revolves around were and always will be universal. In a sense, since it was a comic relief from the all round sadness, it also in a strange way gave us a handle to deal with our own belief system that needs to be re-charged time and again. There is an alternative way to deal with system around (or not deal at all, if that is an acceptable solution) is what JBDY told us in the end.
A famous Israeli PM once said - "Some problems don't have solutions, you just have to manage them". JBDY told us- don't try to SOLVE it in one shot; rather just deal with it, manage it and if possible work around it.
When you can talk about a movie that was made more than 25 years ago with relative ease, you should know you are not turning any young and middle age is probably hitting you. While that *is* a depressing thought, the idea of having JBDY as a collector's item is not.
Salut to you JBDY. You probably told us all in a most funny way possible that sometimes you have to 'take it easy'