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JBDY was an interesting film to write about: Jai Arjun Singh

‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro’ is an archetype classic comedy of the 1980s, one of the wackiest, funniest and rollicking comedy every made in the history of Indian cinema. JBDY, which was made on a shoe-string budget, was seen as the breakthrough point of subversive comedy in Indian cinema, but sadly, there was no worthy successor of the film. No wonder, there is not a single film till date, which matches up to the madness and hilarity of JBDY.

In an exclusive interview with Aman Kanth of at the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival 2011, Jai Arjun Singh, the author of ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro’, a Harper Collins imprint based on film’s name, talks about the cult comedy of the ‘80s and his upcoming projects. Here are the excerpts:

Aman: In ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro’ preface, you seem to be pretty nostalgic on 1980s. Why so?

Jai: 1980s was the time in which I grew up. That period was the biggest element of my childhood mythology. It’s a big part of life and I am probably the last one of that generation, who has grown up in the time of black-and-white TV. Most people, who are younger to me grew up with satellite TV around, that’s why I am pretty nostalgic about that decade.

Aman: What made you choose JBDY?

Jai: JBDY was a commissioned project, which Harper Collins asked me if I would like to contribute to. Initially, I said yes to it and then had a brain storming session with the editors and that’s how it all began. JBDY was an interesting film to write about.

Aman: Why does contemporary cinema duck from realism?

Jai: It’s not like that exactly; JBDY was one of a kind film. During the 1980s, there was both parallel cinema and mainstream cinema. Actors like Om Puri, Smita Patil and Naseeruddin Shah were known as the parallel cinema stars. Today, the lines between parallel cinema and mainstream cinema are blurred. We have mainstream Bollywood actor Aamir Khan who has been a part of ‘Peepli Live’ and ‘Dhobi Ghat’.

Aman: Till date, there is not even a single film which one can mark as the worthy successor of JBDY? Why so?

Jai: Yes, this sort of comedy did not take off. But things are happening, we have wonderful films like ‘Tere Bin Laden’ and ‘Peepli Live’, which have done wonderfully well and work on similar lines of humour as JBDY. JBDY was a lifetime experience for Kundan Shah and the entire cast and crew of the film which put everything into it. It is very difficult to plan a film like that.

Aman: Tell us something about your upcoming books.

Jai: I have just finished editing an anthology based on cinema ‘Popcorn Essayists’. It includes essays by 13 writers. It will come out in the next month.