Sometime in the late Eighties, during my school days in Secunderabad, I watched a movie on television that left a strange impression on my mind. I must have been thirteen or fourteen, a typical Indian teenager fond of cricket, comics and movies. (Girls were only a curiosity, but that would change soon.) Every Sunday I would check the Deccan Chronicle for the scheduled evening movie on Doordarshan, and if it looked interesting I would be home in time for the 5:45 pm “Hindi Feature Film”. There was a Black & White TV at home, an Uptron portable fourteen inch with a V-shaped antenna that stuck out like a pair of bunny ears, and Doordarshan, you’ll remember, was the only channel we received those days.
On this Sunday the movie, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, was not one I’d heard of before, and there were no big stars listed either. But the name intrigued me for some reason, so that evening I skipped a game of cricket and settled myself on the sofa at a quarter to six. The next two and half hours had me in splits. I don’t remember laughing so much to a movie before, and since then only Johnny Stecchino, starring the incomparable Roberto Benigni, comes anywhere close. But there was one problem with Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro: I did not understand the ending, which left me sour and confused all evening, and I decided I didn’t like the movie. Next day, at school, I asked my classmates, but no one had cracked the puzzle. Why did the Vinod and Sudhir, dressed as prisoners, make that throat-slitting gesture? Were they to be hanged? Or were they already ghosts, spirits of two innocent men who were hanged, wandering in Bombay like zombies? Why, after all that fun, did the ending need to be so tragic? It simply wasn’t fair!