The Cult of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (Part 1 :Sudhir Mishra)

When that great black comedy Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron was re-released in theaters this month (without much fanfare, sadly, much to the chagrin of the lead players of the film), it brought a thought to us at Filmistani that we should do a series of tangential posts on the influence of the film and the people involved in it.

Being a quizzer, one of my favourite filmy quiz question is about naming the film in which the two lead characters are named after the assistant directors, and since you have already read the opening paragraph of this article, you get no points for guessing it.

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron was about two photographers who get caught up in a scheme of things that they have no control over. Their names were -


and Vinod

Sudhir Mishra started his association with films by living with his brother in the FTII hostel, although he never attended the college himself, living in the place rubbed off on him. He went on to assist Kundan Shah and Saeed Mirza (Mohan Joshi Haazir Hon) before making a name for himself as a director. And after almost three decades in the industry, he has a cult following of his own. It would be difficult to sum up his contribution to Filmistan without reading out like a wikipedia page, so what we will do instead is recommend three of his movies, because a director's work is what speaks for him.

Is Raat Ki Subah Nahi

Had this movie been released today to an audience used to 'multiplex' movies, it might have done better at making money. It starred a young and hopeful Nirmal Pandey (May his soul RIP) who at that time could have easily fit into roles as a replacement to Sanjay Dutt.

Sanju hai naam mera, main husn ka deewaana

It also starred Tara Deshpande (where is she these days?) and a normal acting Ashish Vidyarthi, who does well in this movie, really well. Nirmal Pandey plays an ad film executive who cheats on his wife and on a fateful night gets caught by his wife. And on this painful night for this ad man with dubious morals, he also crosses paths with gangsters owing to the general lack of cell phones in that time period (he gets into a fight with a gangster over the use of a phone in a bar) The gangsters have their own issues (naturally) with an impending all out war looming over their heads, and they decide they cannot take shit from an upstart long haired service industry guy.

The story unfolds over a period of a few hours in the night, and Sudhir Mishra crafts the tale of one man's desperation after getting deep caught in the troubles of his own life and a gang war which he would sooner have not been any part of. And even though the film almost moves in real time, there is enough space for some truly wonderful music (provided by M M Kreem), the songs of this movie have a fan following of their own

There are other elements of the story that my fingers are itching to reveal here, but I would leave it to you to watch the film and find out on your own.

Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi

Another of those posters which have nothing whatsoever to do with the film
This film became a festival favourite before Sanchaar Kraanti helped it become an Engineering college favourite, and thus helped in spreading the word of mouth about it. It was a film about multiple disillusionment, fear and hopelessness in the 70s, some measures of which the whole country felt in that intriguing decade (with India winning a war against Pakistan, Emergency, the rise and rapid fall of Jan Sangh and the return of Indira), the movie is populated with good actors and Shiney Ahuja. It is a very different college story, which captures the essence of the westernized Beatnikgiri that a lot of students in our country were following, Sudhir Mishra even got an authentic rock band 'Them Clones' for a cameo in the film.

Kay Kay Menon played a rich kid who thinks that the social revolution is a cool fad to be a part of, but then as he joins the actual revolution, he gets immersed headfirst into it, and it is heartbreaking to see his belief in his ability to bring about a change.

Chitrangadha Singh is a padhaku College chick who loves Kay Kay Menon for his Viva La Revolucion ideology but can't quite subscribe to it herself. And her story in the film seems quite normal until she decides to fuck the mundaneness (sic) of being married to an IAS officer and joins her lover who is caught in the revolution in Bihar.

And the third angle of this love-story is Shiney Ahuja, who pines for Chitrangadha Singh (even after seeing her make sweet sweet love to Kay Kay Menon) but who realizes that pyaar alag hai but Kaam dhandha is more important, and concentrates mostly on being a big wheel in Delhi's political system.

The film for most of its second half presents a bleak picture, but ends on what can said to be a coda for the three characters, who gets the raw deal - watch the film and decide.

This movie too is full of good music -



Way before 'Slumdog Millionare', this was a film about that claustrophobic, hazardous, perilous and yet wholly industrious place where a hyper dense crush of humanity lives and thrives daily. Dharavi is perhaps the largest slum in Asia, and thus houses the upward aspirations of the maximum number of souls.

And in this teeming mass flows a river of stories, sadly most of them are either too sexed up in our films (for suspension of disbelief). Sudhir Mishra, who has defied conventions throughout his career (except for Traffic Signal, where he followed the convention of bad acting in a Madhur Bhandarkar film) made a very engrossing film about a taxi driver (Om Puri) who falls in a Get-Rich-Quick scheme and gets caught in a series of events that are much bigger than he is (this can be seen as a motif with many Sudhir Mishra characters, perhaps partly influenced by the photographers of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron).

Dharavi (like many other films of its period) also had Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit, but it was totally an Om Puri film. If the only experience of Om Puri that you have comes from Priyadarshan's brand of comedies, add this to a list of films that you should watch to see how Om Puri kicked ass as a lead actor.

PS : Part 2 - Vinod Chopra shall follow soon.


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