Article Hindi

Exclusive: Sudhir Mishra remembers his friend and teacher Kundan Shah

The filmmaker also speaks about Shah's cult classic Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, which he co-wrote.

Kundan Shah

Keyur Seta

The passing away of filmmaker Kundan Shah has saddened not only those from the film fraternity but also cinephiles across India. Kundan Shah died in Mumbai on Saturday, 7 October. He was 69.

Hindi film industry mourns Kundan Shah's death

Although Shah did not make too many movies, he is the man who helmed the cult classic Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983). The film, starring Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Baswani, is considered one of the best comedies to come out of Hindi cinema.

The film was a stepping stone for filmmaker Sudhir Mishra, who co-wrote Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. Shah's death is a deep personal loss for him, as Shah was like his family and someone who gave him a chance when he was a complete newcomer in his early twenties.

“What can I say about Kundan?" Mishra said when contacted by "He was my teacher, friend and once my partner. I have lived a lifetime with him. I was a kid whose hand he held. As a 22-23-year-old kid, he gave me an opportunity to write a film. I have lived in his house. We have lived next to each other. I cannot describe to you what he meant to me. It is too close a relationship to just sum up. He was like my elder brother." 

Sudhir Mishra

Mishra believes that though Shah did not direct too many films, he will remain immortal in Hindi cinema. “It was a tragedy that he was not doing too much work lately," he said. "But he will be immortal for one film. It will be one of the top 10 landmark films. A lot of people put Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro as their favourite comedy ever. Many, including youngsters, still watch it. It’s a very hard act to follow. Nobody has been able to do a Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro again. Now he is gone. What else to say?” he said.

The filmmaker still remembers their hunt for locations for the film. “We have gone through every location for Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro personally in the Bombay BEST bus,” he recalled. 

Mishra also laments that few people remember the tragic end of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. “It’s actually also a very sad film," he said. "Everybody talks about Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro as this comedy and they only remember the Mahabharata scene, which irritates me a lot. Because, at the end of it, it was a very sad film and nobody remembers the end. It was a very dark and pessimistic end. There was a world view in that film.” 

Mishra was also all praise for Kundan Shah's second feature film Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994), which had a major role to play in creating the persona of an upcoming star called Shah Rukh Khan. “His second feature, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, also has sparks of genius," Mishra said. "It’s also a very very good film.”