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‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro’ Director Kundan Shah Passes Away at 69

The filmmaker, hailed by the Indian film fraternity as a "master storyteller", would have turned 70 on October 19.

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Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
The celebrated filmmaker died in his sleep, after suffering a heart attack. (IANS)
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Mumbai, October 9, 2017 : Filmmaker Kundan Shah, who gave Indian cinema a different brand of humor with the cult black comedy “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro” and subsequently television shows like “Nukkad” and “Wagle Ki Duniya” with the ‘aam aadmi’ at the centrestage, died early on Saturday, a family member said. He was 69.

“He died in his sleep early in the morning,” his relative told IANS.

Satish Kaushik, who wrote dialogues for “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro” and acted in it, said Shah suffered a cardiac arrest.

His last rites were performed at Shivaji Park crematorium by daughter Shilpa with close family members and friends from the film fraternity in attendance, including “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro” actors Naseeruddin Shah and Satish Shah, as well as Sudhir Mishra, Anil Kapoor, Deepak Dobriyal, Ratna Pathak, Raveena Tandon and Ashoke Pandit.

The filmmaker, hailed by the Indian film fraternity as a “master storyteller”, would have turned 70 on October 19.

His tryst with learning about film direction began at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune. Just last week, he was at the institute for an event. He had even paid a tribute to actor Tom Alter, who died on September 29, and had spoken about a tentative script that he wrote for a part two of “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro”, his debut directorial which came out in 1983.

In an interview to IANS, Shah had said he had applied for a loan of Rs 400,000 to make the movie, but then the production cost went up and finally it was made at a budget of Rs 725,000 as the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) came on board as producer.

“Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro” narrated a tale of two simple and honest photographers, who witness a murder and get dragged into the corrupt real estate circle where politicians and bureaucrats are involved. The film, laced with slapstick comedy, didn’t fetch good box office, but achieved cult status with time.

“When I was making the film, I never thought it would be such an acclaimed movie. Every filmmaker has some dreams and this film has given me more than I dreamt of. It surpassed my expectations,” Shah had told IANS.

He had received his first and only National Film Award – Indira Gandhi Award for Best First Film of a Director – for it. This was the same award that Shah had returned to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting during the student protests in FTII in 2015 over Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment as its chairman.

The movie featured actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Ravi Baswani, Om Puri, Pankaj Kapur, Satish Shah, Satish Kaushik, Bhakti Barve and Neena Gupta. And Shah believed it gave “a lot to the entire cast and crew and its success is beyond their imagination too”.

After making “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro”, Shah moved to television and worked there for seven years — giving such gems as “Nukkad”, “Wagle Ki Duniya” and “Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi”, all of which gave the Indian telly audience a reason to laugh away their worries with stories of everyday struggles.

With its simple yet compelling narrative, the Doordarshan show “Nukkad”, told stories of lower income people battling issues while trying to survive in a tough social and economic climate.

“Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi” saw Satish Shah infuse laughter by essaying different characters from many professions and regions of India, in different episodes.

“Wagle Ki Duniya”, based on cartoonist R.K. Laxman’s character of the common man, dealt with the woes of the middle-class Indian. With impeccable performances by Anjan Srivastav and Bharati Achrekar, it’s still etched in the minds of Hindi TV buffs of the late 1980s.

It is for Shah’s sensitivity towards the common man that filmmaker Prakash Jha dubbed him as the “Common Man of Cinema”.

Shah returned to films with the 1993 coming-of-age romantic drama “Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa”, which saw Shah Rukh Khan romance Suchitra Krishnamoorthi.

“He was a good man and a genius filmmaker,” Suchitra, who wishes a “glorious afterlife” for Shah, told IANS.

In a long career, Shah came up with few but impactful works.

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt described Shah as a brave man “who added vigour to the alternate cinema stream with movies like ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro'”.

Actor Satish Kaushik said Shah gave “comedy a new face”, while Sudhir Mishra, who was his friend, said Shah was “wise, crazy, academic, imaginative and mourned the impossibility of true love”.

Seven years after “Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa”, Shah came up with “Kya Kehna”. With teenage pregnancy at its core, the Preity Zinta-starrer was ahead of its time and did well. His subsequent projects “Hum To Mohabbat Karega”, “Dil Hai Tumhaara” and his last movie as a director “P Se PM Tak” failed to get commercial success. (IANS)

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Indian Cinema Holds a Special Place in The Heart of Anupam Kher

Like Anupam always says, "Kucch bhi ho sakta hai (anything can happen)", seeing his journey so far, he wonders how god has forever been kind to him

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Anupam Kher
History will not misjudge Manmohan Singh: Anupam. Flickr

From working in Indian films for over three decades to achieving global fame with several international projects, veteran actor Anupam Kher, who is currently in the US shooting for his new American series “New Amsterdam”, says he can never overlook Indian cinema for foreign projects.

“It feels good when I get recognition for my international movies and shows, but for me, my own (Indian) cinema is very much important. When I am in some foreign country, I always introduce myself as, ‘I am an international actor from India’.

“Being an Indian actor, I cannot overlook our cinema. And I feel there is no dearth of South Asian actors in world cinema because it completely depends upon the person whether he/she wants to act in international projects or not. Our Indian cinema is self-sufficient in its own way,” Anupam Kher told IANS over phone from New York.

After playing pivotol roles in Oscar-nominated Hollywood movies like “Silver Linings Playbook” and “The Big Sick”, the 63-year-old is currently working in medical drama “New Amsterdam”.

According to Anupam, he has “reinvented” himself by essaying the role of Vijay Kapoor in the show.

Anupam Kher
Anupam Kher, flickr

“Through ‘New Amsterdam’, one of the main things I have learnt is the relationship between doctors and patients. For this show, we are shooting in a real hospital, so I often get a chance to meet patients and doctors. Interacting with the patients made me understand the real value of relations and emotions.

“Now I know what families go through if their loved ones are battling with some illness. I am evolving as a person with this project.”

As the show is already on air and is garnering great response from viewers, Anupam Kher considers this project a “huge achievement”.

Like Anupam Kher always says, “Kucch bhi ho sakta hai (anything can happen)”, seeing his journey so far, he wonders how god has forever been kind to him.

Be it his negative role in “Dushmani” or his comic avatar in “Haseena Maan Jayegi”, the versatile actor, who has been entertaining people with his performances for over 30 years. He has also been feted with civilian honours like the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan.

Anupam Kher
Anupam Kher (Wikimedia Common)

“A young boy from Shimla who dreamt of becoming an actor, successfully paved a path in Bollywood and is now working in Hollywood. What else could I have asked for? I feel blessed that god has always been kind to me. This project has given me a different kind of achievement. I always wanted to do something different and now I have reinvented and explored my new side with ‘New Amsterdam’,” he added.

Apart from his international projects, Anupam Kher is also preparing for his next Hindi film “The Accidental Prime Minister”, a biopic based on the life of former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Anupam Kher, who plays Manmohan Singh in the film, underwent transformation to get into the role. He says it is one of the most challenging roles he has ever done.

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The actor said: “It took 4-5 months to make my body language similar to Manmohanji and a complete month for having control over my voice. It was not like ‘Go inside (the make-up room) and come out (dressed) as Manmohan Singh’. The character demanded huge hard work and I tried my best to play the role with sincerity and conviction.

“Portraying Dr Manmohan Singh’s life on-screen was like a scientist working on his/her discoveries and theories because it is not easy to represent someone who is known by the world. Manmohan Singh is a politician and leader of this generation. People know everything about him. I hope I have done justice to his character.” (IANS)