Ravi Baswani – RIP

Ravi Baswani
I have been meaning to write a small piece on Ravi Baswani – that man with exceptional comic timing, but time ran away from me! Now there is flood of pieces all over and writing something seems redundant. Here is a collection of gems about Mr. Baswani, many thanks to him for all the memorable moments over the years, wish there weren’t so precious few of them.

Here is an excerpt from ( http://movies.rediff.com/report/2010/jul/29/raja-sen-pays-tribute-to-ravi-baswani.htm) Raja Sen’s tribute to Baswani:

Ravi Baswani is no more. He was just 64, unmarried, and on his way to directing his first film when halted by a fatal, tragic heart attack. Considering the man is doubtless a cinematic icon, it is surprising how few of his films we remember now, outside of JBDY, Pankuj Parashar’s acid-trip Peechha Karo and the actor’s staggeringly brilliant debut feature, Sai Paranjpye’s Chashm-e-Buddoor.
In that debut, he plays cigarette-filching student Jai Lakhanpal, nicknamed Jomo. Given to flamboyant clothing and desperate attempts at hitting on girls with routines taken from Amitabh Bachchan [ Images ] movies, Jomo might be a loser but Elvis forbid he act like one. The airs just as much in place as the shiny shoes, even when he gets beaten up, pretending to be a Bollywood director.
There’s something to be said for keeping up appearances, and Jomo’s a fantastically flashy fool who deserves applause.
And yet, even with this farcical character, he makes us care. There is a moment when he, riding with studied studliness down the streets of Delhi [ Images ], spots a girl — Paranjpye’s daughter Winnie Joglekar — who needs a ride. He pompously steps up and is charm personified as he finally manages to pick up a girl, albeit literally.
His grin betrays disbelief and sheer joy, turning ashen when the girl hops off the bike to run off to meet her waiting lover.
There is hilarity in both action and reaction, but Baswani sells you the moment with a morsel of heartbreak.

Similar scenes displaying the common man’s frustration with the system abound in the magnificent Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron. Again, Raja Sen picks out this one:

Kundan Shah’s seminal comedy Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron has a beat — a dark, chilling beat — when Ravi Baswani’s protagonist Sudhir Mishra, the younger of the two bumbling, idealistic photographers, decides he has had enough damned persecution.
The two heroes have just managed to misplace a corpse, and a local Bombay copper is shoving them around, harassing them just because he can. Something visibly snaps inside Sudhir, his usually twinkling eyes awake with a manic gleam as he raises his heavy all-purpose bag and plods determinedly over to strike the policeman.
The background score gets uncharacteristically intense, and we have a few seconds of potentially genre-switching seriousness before the cop turns around and Baswani, bag held over his head, helplessly and hilariously tries to warble his way out of the moment, breaking into a random, pointedly innocuous and incredibly silly la-la-la.

But be it the man who yelped in fear at every small noise in Antonioni park at night, who wore a red scarf and barked like a dog so more cake could be thrown at him, or simply dressed the corpse in Draupadi’s sari, Baswani made Jaane Bhi do Yaaron memorable!

Today this gem appeared on this bloghttp://moifightclub.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/potd-sai-paranjpyes-offer-letter-to-ravi-baswani-no-extra-allowance/! Awesome slice of history and a look into how low budget cinema was created:

When talking of JBDY – made on the budget of a mere 25 thousand rupees – Nasser often mentions that he had to bring his own camera for the role of photographer, and how it got stolen on the sets! And Ravi was offered stay at Sai’s house and no extra allowances. I am nostalgic for the cinema that came out of such efforts, no way can today’s glossy glittery fashion statement cinema come close. Rest In Peace Mr. Baswani, you will be remembered.

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