Filmmaker Kundan Shah succumbed to a heart attack on Saturday.
Satish Kaushik, who co-wrote Shah's cult classic Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro as well as acted in it, looks back at the experience of being a part of it.
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro played a major role in steering my career in films. I feel very proud to be associated with this cult classic.
After I returned to Delhi after finishing Shekhar Kapur's debut film Masoom from Nainital, I visited Ranjit Kapoor, a topnotch theatre director. I met Kundan Shah at Ranjit's house. He had come to sign Ranjit as a dialogue writer of JBDY.
I had known Kundan because I had done my first film Chakra in which he was chief assistant director.
The three of us were chatting when suddenly Ranjit told Kundan, 'Since you are making a mad comedy, I'd like to have Satish as my co-writer.'
I was shocked.
Ranjit convinced Kundan that I had a great comic sense and timing and will be a great help in writing the film. That's how my career as a writer started. We wrote the entire film in Kundan's house and slept there. Sometimes, we were woken up by his cute little daughter lisping, "Uncle utho, likho."
Everyday we'd take a scene from the screenplay and start performing and improvising it in the room. We would record everything and bring it to paper as per Kundan's liking. Ranjit and I used our theatre experience in moulding the dialogue and script.
It took us 10 days to write the Mahabharata sequence because in the screenplay, it was just mentioned that they would get into a theatre in which some drama was being performed and chaos ensues. But which drama? We got stuck because whatever play we thought of did not bring humour.
We took a break.
One day I was walking in a market in Santa Cruz (in the western suburb of Mumbai) and I saw cheap colourful comics of Laila Majnu, Shirin-Farhad and Mughal-e-Azam. From there I got an idea that in the climax, there should be a mix-up of characters. That is how the hilarious climax came on paper.
I was not part of the actors' repertoire of JBDY. But when I was writing, I would wonder which role should I forward my name for. Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Baswani were already finalised.
To my luck, when we were improvising the telephone scene, I performed the role of Tarneja's assistant Ashok. That turned out to be a very funny scene. Ashok's role had not been finalised. Kundan liked my comic timing, and Ranjit immediately suggested my name.
Kundan agreed reluctantly.
So from Rs 3,000 remuneration for dialogues, my total remuneration went up to Rs 5,000. We would get Rs 10 per day for conveyance. But the kind of fun we had during the making of the film was reward enough.
Working with Kundan was great because he has a great sense of comedy. He had tremendous unchannelised energy at the time, and he injected that energy into his actors. He'd push everyone to give their best.
JBDY had a romantic track among Ravi Baswani, Neena Gupta and me but it got chopped off because of the film's length.
The premiere of JBDY was also fun. We had no passes. Kundan charged money from us for tickets for the premiere. This must be the only premiere where actors had to pay from their pocket to watch their own film. After the film, there was no party. I walked down to the railway station to get back home and had dinner at a dhaba. We could not celebrate at that time but till today JBDY is celebrated.
This interview was first published in November 2012.