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Pop culture goes the weasel

Nihilism — is it too cynical to say cynicism? — has rarely been accompanied by so much hilarity in cinema as it has been in Kundan Shah’s Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro.

books Updated: Jan 14, 2011 22:38 IST
Ashish Ramani

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro: Seriously Funny Since 1983
Jai Arjun Singh
harpercollins
n R250 n pp 300

Nihilism — is it too cynical to say cynicism? — has rarely been accompanied by so much hilarity in cinema as it has been in Kundan Shah’s Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. Thus the utter joy of reading Jai Arjun Singh’s book on this landmark and anomalous movie.

This book not only provides the hand-rails to approach a classic of black comedy but it also goes about its job of enhancing the film’s appeal 27 years after it was released by going behind, digging into and circling around one of modern India’s most lovable and disturbing cultural icons.

Singh has a delightful light touch that enhances one’s appetite to know more about the background and foreground of the film. He meets the key players including Kundan Shah, of whom the actor Satish Shah says (and Shah agrees) that he lacks any sense of humour. Singh holds this lunatic of a film, comic in its form, dead serious in its subject, close to us.

The narrative is witty, personalised and knowledgeable. The perfect book about the perfect film of our times — the nexus of big business, media and politicians sending two Everymen to their destination: jail. This book is a feast for lovers of pop culture.

Ashish Ramani is a Mumbai-based script-writer