Kundan Shah won the 1984 Indira Gandhi Award for Best First Film of a Director for his work. 'Indiatimes Movies' ranks the film amongst the 'Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films'. The film was part of the NFDC Retrospective at India International Film Festival in 2006.
Professional photographers Vinod Chopra (Naseeruddin Shah) and Sudhir Mishra (Ravi Baswani) open a photo studio in the prestigious Haji Ali area in Mumbai, and hope to make enough money to keep it running. After a disastrous start, they are given some work by the editor of "Khabardar", a publication that exposes the scandalous lives of the rich and the famous. They accept it and start working with the editor, Shobha Sen (Bhakti Barve), on a story exposing the dealings between an unscrupulous builder, Tarneja (Pankaj Kapoor), and corrupt Municipal Commissioner D'Mello (Satish Shah). During their investigation, they find out that another builder Ahuja (Om Puri) too is involved in this dealing.
While working on their story, Sudhir and Vinod decide to enter a photography contest that carries a prize money of Rs. 5000/-, and take a number of photographs all over the city. On developing their pictures, in one of the photographs they see a man shooting someone. Upon enlarging it, they realize that the killer is none other than Tarneja. They immediately return to the park where they had shot that picture and realize that the body is lying behind the bushes. Before the duo get to the body, it disappears, but they manage to retrieve one of a pair of gold cuff links. Sometime later, they attend the inauguration of a bridge dedicated to the memory of late Municipal Commissioner D'Mello who is supposed to have died of a terminal disease. It is there that they discover the other cuff link. They return at night and dig up that area and unearth a coffin containing the dead body of D'Mello.
The duo take a number of photographs of the corpse, and wheel it with them with the hopes of exposing Tarneja. Suddenly the body disappears. Later they find out that the body is with Tarneja's rival, Ahuja who had, in an inebriated condition, carried the coffin tied to his car to his farm house. They provide this information to Shobha, who in turn starts blackmailing Tarneja. He invites her and her associates to crack a deal, and plants a bomb to kill them. Unfortunately, the bomb explodes right in the face of Tarneja and his henchmen, and the trio escape from the scene. Later, the duo realize that Shobha and Ahuja are up to no good, and so they take the corpse, and wheel it with them, but not before Tarneja, Ahuja, the new Municipal Commissioner Srivastav (Deepak Qazir), Shobha and others also get involved, resulting in a series of comic mix-ups including one with some burkha-clad women.
The climax is set upon a stage dramatization of the Mahabharata, particularly the enactment of the Draupadi Cheer-Haran episode, which is turned on its head with the duo and the group following them inserting themselves into the scene. The corpse plays Draupadi and the vile Duryodhana, who orders the disrobing in the original version, ends up pledging to save Draupadi's honour at any cost. To make things even more hilarious, a new act - that of the ill-fated romance of Salim and Anarkali - is introduced, with the corpse playing Anarkali.
In the end, the police arrives and Vinod and Sudhir present their evidence to the police officer, and it seems as though Tarneja will be arrested. Srivastava, being the Assistant Municipal Commissioner tells the officer to wait a few minutes before arresting Tarneja. Tarneja tells Ahuja and Shobha that if he goes to jail, he would make sure that their malpractices are also exposed. In a twist ending, they all come to an agreement and Srivastava manages to pin the murder of Commissioner D'Mello and the collapse of the bridge on Vinod and Sudhir. In the final scene, Vinod and Sudhir are shown several months/years later released from prison, still in their prison clothes. They turn to the camera and make a cut-throat gesture, signifying the death of justice and truth in an age of corruption.Naseeruddin Shah as Vinod Chopra
Ravi Baswani as Sudhir Mishra
Om Puri as Ahuja
Pankaj Kapoor as Tarneja
Satish Shah as D'Mello (Municipal Commissioner)
Bhakti Barve as Shobha Sen (Editor)
Satish Kaushik as Ashok Namboodirippad (the assistant/secretary of Tarneja)
Neena Gupta as Priya
Deepak Qazir as Srivastav (Assistant Municipal Commissioner)
Rajesh Puri as Kamdar (Assistant Editor)
Vidhu Vinod Chopra as Dushasana
Anupam Kher - voiceover for Architect at construction site
The film had a budget of ₹ 700,000 (seven lakh rupees).
The film was not immediately successful at the box office when released, but was eventually regarded as a cult classic, which is reflected in a recent comment by Indian Express that film's high recall value even after 27 years, is due to "it(s) superb satirical depiction of the essential, timeless, human condition: supreme self-interest versus some moral/ethical anchor. What made the depiction particularly powerful was its setting: India of the early '80s".
A digitally restored print of the film was released on 2 November 2012 at select theatres. The film opened to an enthusiastic welcome from the media and discerning filmgoers.1984 Indira Gandhi Award for Best First Film of a Director: Kundan Shah
1984: Filmfare Best Comedian Award: Ravi Baswani
Blow-Up, a 1966 English-language film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni in which a photographer believes he may have witnessed a murder and unwittingly takes photographs of the killing, was an inspiration for Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. The filmmakers paid homage by naming the park in which the murder occurs as "Antonioni Park".
The names of the lead characters – Vinod Chopra and Sudhir Mishra – came from film directors Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Sudhir Mishra, who were assisting Kundan Shah in the movie. Sudhir Mishra co-wrote the script and assisted in directing the movie, while Vidhu Vinod Chopra was the production controller of the film.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra played Dushasana in the Mahabharata play in the climax of the movie. He also played a photographer in the first half of the film, where a group of journalists interviews Tarneja, played by Pankaj Kapoor.