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URF PROFESSOR (2001) - The peculiar case of a Black Comedy Thriller made decades ahead of its time, much before the OTT platforms came into existence here. (An overview by Bobby Sing)

25 Aug, 2020 | Articles on Cinema

A lesser known film called SANKAT CITY had a low profile release in the year 2009, which only a few film enthusiasts saw in almost empty theaters as usual since it didn’t have any major stars in the cast. The worth watching film went unnoticed then, which now finds a rare mention occasionally at social networking sites by the ones who had seen it in theaters or later online.
Directed by Late Pankaj Advani (who unfortunately died at an early age), SANKAT CITY was actually an offshoot from the writer-director’s unusually wacky comic-thriller URF PROFESSOR made around 2000-01. It was a TV/video film that was reportedly banned, but did receive wide appreciation at a few reputed film festivals in that time period. An extremely raw, loud and experimental kind of attempt, URF PROFESOR had many similar elements and characters as seen in SANKAT CITY including a few actors too who became part of both the films (despite the fact that they were made at a gap of almost a decade).

For instance, it revolved around a merciless hit-man (referred in the title as Professor), city gangsters, a petty car-thief, his associate trained in renewing the stolen cars, a con-girl, a filmmaker, an aspiring actor and more that was also there in the much polished and superior SANKAT CITY. 

Though URF PROFESSOR didn’t revolve around any bag full of money, it did have a reference of it in one of its sequence making way for the notable addition in SANKAT CITY. The 2001 film actually had an insertion of a lottery ticket instead, passing hands quite similar to the bag of money.

Stating its other interesting features, URF PROFESSOR was among the initial films of Sharman Joshi and Antra Mali, apart from featuring Manoj Pahwa, Yashpal Sharma, Hemant Pandey, Raymon Singh and Shri Vallabh Vyas in key roles. In addition, it also had Devang Patel playing the aspirant actor, the lyricist-singer who got hugely famous in the mid-90s with his songs like “Stop That”, “Meri Marzi” and more. 

Coming to why the TV/video film is a peculiar case of a bold attempt made decades before its time. URF PROFESSOR was reportedly banned and refused a censor certificate even when it didn’t have any visual nudity. The film was clean in terms of visual sexual content but did have bloody depiction of murder and dead bodies as a brave experimental crime thriller. 

Besides, what it mainly had was an unusually fearless and unheard of language spoken by its characters which was too daring and a never before kind of insertion in a Hindi film at that particular point of time. The film began with a thought-provoking (backward) shot of some bullock carts carrying huge Dish-Antennas. But the very next scene was a big shocker introducing a newly-wed couple narrating their earlier intimate experiences in details on their first night that might force many to shut the film off even today. And then it had a good number of abuses regularly used in its dialogues throughout the duration that was not the norm in those days of the new millennium. 

So, Pankaj Advani courageously tried to break the set pattern and conventional making of Hindi films in the year 2000-01 that could not be digested by many, mainly because of the language used in its adventurous narrative. For a change, it was not sex-scenes, but a whole lot of ‘at the face expletives’, casually spoken by almost all the characters in the script that majorly became the reason why URF PROFESSOR could never release officially with a certificate, later unofficially reaching the people through various internet portals.   

In other words, what we are now witnessing at various online platforms since couple of years at Netflix, Prime, Hotstar, Zee5, Sony Liv, MX Player and more (in terms of bold language content), it was actually tried by Pankaj Advani two decades back in 2000 by making URF PROFESSOR. And after being refused by Censors, the film actually reached its viewers through internet as an uncensored film without any certificate, exactly as films and web-series are now reaching the people today in the present direct-to-internet/home scenario.

Having said that, no doubt it is not going to be liked by many due to the obvious reasons, but you got to see it once, keeping in mind that it was made two decades back around 2000, when we had no idea that this kind of uncensored content and language will in reality become a norm one day, casually playing in our homes without any issues raised by the end-users or by the ‘socially concerned’.

As a mad-weird-dark comedy, possibly one might also find or feel the quirky energy of JAANE BHI DO YAARON somewhere in the undercurrent of many sequences of URF PROFESSOR. That’s probably because Pankaj Advani had an experience of working with the director Kundan Shah and he only wrote Shah’s critically acclaimed, Shah Rukh Khan starrer KABHI HAAN KABHI NAA (1994). 

Summing up, do give it a try, at least to witness how a writer-director had the vision and courage to make an ‘OTT special’ kind of ‘controversial mature content’ 20 years back in 2000. 

Bobby Sing – August 2020

(Note:  At the time of writing this article, URF PROFESSOR could be seen at Youtube.) 

Tags : URF PROFESSOR (2001) Article by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Cult underground classic, Hindi films made before the time, Pankaj Advani films, Articles on Cinema by Bobby Sing
25 Aug 2020 / Comment ( 0 )
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