A few members of the cast and crew of Kundan Shah's classic satire, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, were present at an event to commemorate the memory of the late filmmaker.
Among those who were present included writer-actor Satish Kaushik, filmmaker Sudhir Mishra (who was an Assistant Director on the film), Neena Gupta, and the film's dialogue writer, Ranjit Kapoor.
What started as an event where the crew shared anecdotes from the making of the film turned into a conversation about the timelessness and relevance of the dark satire in the current environment where artistic freedom faces imminent threat.
Kapoor addressed the elephant in the room and said, "We live in pretty difficult times. I don't think it's possible for us to make a Jaane Bhi Do Yaaraon in the current climate. We took on the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra, who hated the press. There was a famous quote of his which said, 'All the press should be thrown in the Bay of Bengal.' The film is as relevant today as it was back then. Maybe even more. But I don't think we can make something like that now, the current times are scary."
He further added, "Such is the situation now that if Kundan was alive and we had decided that we will make another Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, then our legs would have been broken. I feel more fear even now. The fear is more underlined that in the time when our film was made. At that time we used feel that there is freedom of expression. I do not see it now. There are lot of incidents which I am witnessing today, which convinces me that the world we live in is more dangerous, than the one which existed at the time of Jaane Bhi..."
A biting social commentary, every frame of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron is a critique of the establishment, with references to the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra, A R Antulay, who was convicted of corruption by the Bombay High Court and had to resign from his post.
When this writer asked about the current times where freedom of expression is increasingly under threat to Sudhir Mishra, he said he isn't 'scared' to make the films he wants to, while Kapoor said if not through cinema, he'll use theatre and other outlets of expression to register dissent.
The International Film Festival of India, which concludes on November 28, has been under serious criticism after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting arbitrarily dropped two films, S Durga and Nude, from the selection. The Kerala High Court later passed an order overruling the Ministry's decision, asking IFFI to screen the film.
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