Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jai Arjun Singh's "Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro"

I have been a huge fan of Jai Arjun Singh for ages (and especially after he introduced me to Johnny Gaddaar). So of course I had to buy the book. (In fact, I pre-ordered it on Flipkart: first time I've ever done that.)

Actually, the book was a gift for the Guy, who is a big fan of the movie. And he sat and read it till 2 o' clock that night, while Effe and I talked, and he finished it the next day. That tells you a bit about the book, especially as the Guy isn't the reader of the family.

I found it just as riveting. Jai Arjun Singh has written about how the book, contrary to some expectations, doesn't deal at length with the political situation of the time in its relation to the movie. But it was exactly the book I wanted: it told me more about how this incredible, unique movie got made and gave me some insight into the minds of its creators. It told me (through facts as well as poignant anecdotes) that the cast and crew worked on an extremely low budget. That the movie got made because the people involved were so enthusiastic about it. That it was never envisaged to be the immensely popular and well-wearing piece of art it turned out to be. It explained the lack of polish, the weirdness in certain parts. It told me what the movie could have been.

Jai Arjun Singh met many of the people associated with the movie. Some of the best parts of the book for me, were the parts about Naseeruddin Shah, especially where he's mentioned as being difficult because he was the only "star" in the movie and he didn't quite get how to play a certain scene, and how he now admits he was wrong. I loved knowing how some scenes were put together, and how difficult certain scenes were to shoot. I loved knowing... but let me not give everything away.

The book devotes a lot of space to the director Kundan Shah. As Jai mentioned when we met him, "the book turned into a sort of biography of Kundan Shah", which was perhaps inevitable given that the movie was conceived by this one person before turning into a big collaborative effort. And the book talks about the man so lovingly that it really made me want to meet him: he seems such an interesting, strong personality (and he's definitely impressed the author!).

So, if you're a Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro fan, pick up the book. (Don't bother if you haven't seen the movie: but as Jai Arjun Singh says in the introduction, "the book isn't meant for such Philistines anyway.")

(In the interests of full disclosure: Jai treated us to a very nice dinner when we met him in Delhi. I don't think that affected my views, but I thought you should know anyway.)


Jabberwock said...

Ha! I knew that dinner would do the trick! :D
Seriously though, thanks for this, and very glad the two of you liked the book.

Unmana said...

Hee! I'd read and liked the book before I met you. (I can usually decide whether I like a book more easily as compared to a movie. Fewer senses being influenced is a factor, I suppose.)

But I am very open to being bribed. Especially with food.

Dinner on us next time.

dipali said...

I loved the book.
I've loved the movie since forever, and reading how it all came together was a wonderful experience.

dipali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unmana said...

Dipali: Yeah, that's exactly how I felt. And Jai does write well!