We used to bully Kundan Shah during 'Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro': Om Puri
With a shoestring budget, every day of the shoot was a struggle for 'Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro' team but actor Om Puri says he has some of the best memories of working in the 1983 satire classic and bullying its director Kundan Shah.
The film, whose restored version is releasing on November 2, has gained cult status over the years. Puri, who played corrupt builder Ahuja, recalls how they sailed through despite budget problems by sleeping on the floor and eating 'lauki ki sabzi and dal' everyday.
"It was made on a very small budget. Our food came from the director's house. He had hired a cook and it was 'lauki and dal' everyday. I remember on my first day of the shoot, someone asked for a cup of tea. I heard the production manager shouting, 'Aarre yaar, you just had tea an hour ago'. It was that kind of situation but we all were friends and sailed through despite all odds," Puri told PTI.
The film, which is being re-released by NFDC and PVR cinemas after a gap of 29 years, had some of the best theatre and film artistes like Naseeruddin Shah, Ravi Baswani, Satish Kaushik, Pankaj Kapur, Satish Shah, Neena Gupta and Puri.
The actor says that since all of them were in the initial stages of their career and of the same age, they had fun despite the discomforts.
"We were shooting in a bungalow in Alibaug. There were no bedsheets. We would spread towel on the floor and sleep for couple of hours in the varanda of that bungalow. I remember, our cinematographer Binod Pradhan was once so exhausted that he fell asleep when he was supposed to roll the camera.
The 'Mahabharat' scene of the film is almost as famous as the movie itself and Puri recalls how he convinced Shah to let him wear his character's trademark black glasses.
"We used to bully Kundan a lot. I remember during the Mahabharat scene I am wearing goggles. Kundan was not happy. He said, 'What is this? You are wearing goggles in Mahabharat scene'. I said, 'Relax Kundan, look at the situation. I wear them in the film, yes or no'. He said, 'Yes, but it is the Mahabharat scene'.
"I said, 'Look at the situation. We are hitting everyone that goes backstage and change into their clothes. I forgot to remove my glasses'. Finally, he let it be and that's how my goggles remained in the scene."
The story behind Puri becoming a part of the movie is no less interesting. Puri says he was tired of his image of an intense actor and tried to change it by producing and acting in a comedy play, which helped him bag the role.
"There is a back story. This film began shooting in 1981, I came to Mumbai in 1976. People knew me only as a man who is dumb and serious with no sense of humour. I did not have a sense of humour because I was struggling.
"I wanted to break that image and decided to do a play. I called Ranjit Kapoor from Delhi. I was staying in a hostel and I could not really afford but I managed Rs 2000. We produced the play and first show was at Prithvi (theatre). It was a huge hit and we did about 60 shows. The news spread and that's how I got this film. If not for that play, I would not have been in 'Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro'."
Puri, however, is not sure how the audience will respond to the re-release of the film in cinemas after so many years.
"It has been seen by the audience again and again. They remember it scene by scene. I feel happy that it is releasing again. I hope this experiment works and people come again to watch it." PTI