Top lista nadrealista

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Top lista nadrealista
Nadrealisti.png
Sketch showing two Belgian EU observers trying to incite a Bosnian Muslim and a Bosnian Serb, lifelong friends, to start fighting one another during a game of pool at a local bar.
Starring Nele Karajlić
Branko Đurić
Zenit Đozić
and others
Country of origin Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia SFR Yugoslavia
No. of episodes 27
(25 regular + 2 New Year's specials)
Production
Running time ~ 40-50 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel TV Sarajevo
Original run 1984 – 1991

Top lista nadrealista (trans. The Surrealists' Top Chart or The Surrealists' Hit Parade) also known as Nadrealisti (Surrealists) was a sketch comedy and variety television show airing on TV Sarajevo in three separate installments from 1984 until 1991. It originated from a 15-minute radio comedy segment, broadcast as part of the Primus programme on Radio Sarajevo's channel two during the early 1980s.

After establishing a core radio audience locally in the city of Sarajevo, Top lista nadrealista got spun off into a television sketch series. Two more series of shows on television followed, making household names of its protagonists all over SFR Yugoslavia and helping launch successful television, film, and music careers for some of them (most notably Nele Karajlić and Branko "Đuro" Đurić).

The show initially stayed away from politics entirely, mostly relying on youthful improv for laughs. Towards the late 1980s and early 1990s, in the second and third series, respectively, during which it created some of its most effective and memorable sketches, Top lista nadrealista incorporated political satire along with cogent depictions of mentality of the people's of SFR Yugoslavia. The show became so popular that even some of the language and phrasing used in sketches entered public vernacular (see Hrkljuš). In the late 1980s and early 1990s, many sketches dealt with current political situation which was a prelude to Yugoslav Wars. Certain sketches proved to be prophetic, as they portrayed things like the city of Sarajevo being divided between different states, a single family split into two clans and warring over control of rooms in their apartment, UN peacekeeping force's adding fuel to the conflict, etc.

In the context of the Yugoslav Wars that already began during the show's third series, Nadrealisti held a clear pacifist posture, often using absurdity and dark hyperbole when portraying rising ethnic tensions imminent war in SR Bosnia and Herzegovina (e.g. warning that "peace may break out and ruin Bosnian harmonious war" or giving alarming instructions on "how the public should act in case of peace").

Radio segment (1981-1985)[edit]

Background[edit]

Boro Kontić began hosting Primus in late 1979, inheriting the weekly Saturday morning 8:00-11:00am show on Radio Sarajevo's Channel Two from Jovo Došlo who moved to Mostar and left the radio business altogether. A young man in his mid-twenties, Kontić sought to contemporize the programme by introducing two new segments — one involving translations of foreign music hits into Serbo-Croatian and the other named 'Top lista nadrealista', a 15-minute free format envisioned as a showcase for talented Sarajevo youngsters.

Always on the lookout for fresh talent to bring on the show, by early 1981 through his younger brother Saša[1] as well as Saša's classmate and bandmate Zlatko Arslanagić,[2] Kontić became aware of a group of kids in their late teens, from Sarajevo's Koševo neighborhood, involved with music as well as other forms of artistic expression. After Arslanagić relayed the offer to them at a rock show they put together at Dom mladih, Kontić gave them the 'Top lista nadrealista' segment, a name that remained from the previous groups of kids he used on the show.[3][4]

Their debut fifteen-minute segment took place on Saturday, 9 May 1981 and was done in form of a faux terrorist takeover of the radio station as they read out their manifesto along with the list of demands. Though the attendance was spotty throughout the segment's run, over the coming weeks and months five guys — Nele Karajlić, Zenit Đozić, Zlatko Arslanagić, Boris Šiber, and Dražen Ričl — established themselves as the core of the 'Top lista nadrealista' segment.

Learning the ropes[edit]

The group's creative modus operandi consisted of getting together every Thursday in Šetalište, a kafana located in Sutjeska Street, around the corner from the Radio Sarajevo building at Danijela Ozme Street, couple of hours before their scheduled 9pm studio taping in order to come up with bits for that week's segment. Under their command, the segment became a complete free format — sometimes a single bit for the entire fifteen minutes, other times a weekly recap through satirical commentary of recent events, from those of local character to global ones. Since the attendance was always very unstable, the taping sometimes involved bringing random people from Šetalište into the studio for bits. Uncoordinated and chaotic as well as airing at an unpopular timeslot, Saturdays at 10:15am, when most of its target demographic is fast asleep, the segment nevertheless rapidly gained popularity among young listeners and soon became the staple of Primus. Getting around the early timeslot, many youngsters resorted to recording the segment on audio cassettes and sharing; scenes of young people in bars listening to segments they taped off radio were not uncommon around the city.

It wasn't long before a move to television was suggested and first steps to that end arranged by TV Sarajevo. However, following a few screen tests that essentially consisted of the group doing their radio schtick before cameras, the television executives deemed them too unpolished and sent them back to radio.

Musical synergy[edit]

Most members of the newly assembled on-air radio crew were already involved with music. Since 1980 Karajlić had been fronting a garage rock group called Zabranjeno Pušenje together with his buddy and neighbour Sejo Sexon while early lineups included Đozić who played drums with even Elvis J. Kurtović and Šiber spending some time in the band. Furthermore, Zlatko Arslanagić and Dražen Ričl played together in a band called Ozbiljno Pitanje and after the group disbanded, Ričl started playing alongside Elvis J. Kurtović and Rizo Petranović in a band called Elvis J. Kurtovich & His Meteors, the most established group of the lot at the moment since they had a recording contract with ZKP RTVLj.[5]

As its popularity grew, 'Top lista nadrealista' segment slightly expanded from topical humour to include longer bits, played in installments. Some of the more popular sketches included "Bata brani u Sarajevu" (a takeoff on the famous partisan film Valter brani Sarajevo) and rock opera "Kemmy" (parody of The Who's Tommy). In March 1983, some of the individuals in and around this often intertwining group of budding radio personalities, musicians, and comedians came up with an idea of putting all of that activity under a single definition banner - thus giving birth to New Primitives, an entity that functioned as something between a (sub)cultural movement and a cheap PR ploy.

The synergy of weekly radio appearances along with constant gigging around Sarajevo in student hangouts (Trasa, Kuk, Cedus, etc.) created a bit of local buzz that benefited both the radio and the music side of things. By 1984, Zabranjeno Pušenje finally got the record deal it was after (with Jugoton no less) while 'Top lista nadrealista' developed enough of a following among the Sarajevo youth that it got a second shot on television in June.

Expansion to television[edit]

The weekly radio segment continued in parallel with the television episodes and the success of Pušenje's debut album.

Good sales of the album together with the satisfactory reception of the television episodes prompted the release of Top lista nadrealista audio cassette tape by Diskoton. Produced by Boro Kontić, it consisted of the troupe's best of radio material. However, the so-called 'Marshal affair' that Nele Karajlić and Zabranjeno Pušenje got themselves into put a damper on many activities. First, the 11-episode Top lista nadrealista run on television ended in late December 1984. Then, the Top lista nadrealista audio cassette tape's promotional cycle pretty much got destroyed on administrative orders from above - it became unavailable for sale in general circulation, only through traveling salesmen - though it still managed to sell 10,000 copies.[6]

Finally, during March 1985 'Top lista nadrealista' segment got taken off radio airwaves for good.

First television series (1984)[edit]

Top lista nadrealista's first installment on television began airing on 2 June 1984, a few months following the Sarajevo Winter Olympics. It came about through Erna Perić, TV Sarajevo executive in charge of folk music programming, who came up with an idea for a prime time show of folk music numbers with comedy sketches in-between each song. Though not at all fitting into the folk music milieu, the group accepted the offer as it meant being exposed to a whole new audience they would normally never reach on radio. The show aired Tuesdays at 8:00pm on TVSa2 (TV Sarajevo's channel 2) while it was also seen in the rest of SFR Yugoslavia through JRT system. Directed by Davor Marjanović who got joined by Vuk Janić after a few episodes, and with Nele Karajlić, Branko Đurić, Zenit Đozić, Boris Šiber, and Dražen Ričl as main on-camera protagonists (Zlatko Arslanagić participated in several sketches in later episodes), their sketches retained the same structure and form they had on radio. Around 45 minutes long, episodes featured between five and eight folk music numbers performed by popular folk singers of the day like Halid Bešlić, Ferid Avdić, Šaban Šaulić, Hanka Paldum, Zehra Deović, Himzo Polovina, Zaim Imamović, etc. with sketches in-between mostly tied together by a common theme presented in installments over multiple episodes.

A number of sketches revolved around parodying a fictional TV station — usually as the opening bit of each episode — with recurring characters: news anchor Mitrije Crnica (played by Karajlić) and the station's security doorman played by Đuro whose catchphrase "Ćega, ba" caught on quickly. Another running parody based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet featured young lovers Sejo and Seada falling in love despite their respective families supporting bitter cross-town football rivals FK Sarajevo and FK Željezničar. They also lampooned Star Trek with a running multiple-installment bit called "Burek u svemiru" that portrays a space crew on a mission to find the best burek in universe. Another running bit featured Fu-Do (played by Đozić), righteous vigilante well-versed in martial arts who protects the citizens of several Sarajevo local communities from various ills — from ruthless smugglers selling counterfeit clothing to open market re-sellers offering food at marked-up prices. Furthermore, actual events taking place as the series was shot – such as Yugoslavia's preparation for the Euro 1984 or Rajko Janjanin's European Cup hat-trick versus Benfica – provided fodder for the sketches. Allusions to political figures and events were off-limits on the show. By closely sifting through sketch ideas and their implementation, applying censorship as needed, the state-owned and party-controlled TV Sarajevo made sure the show stays away from overt political commentary and direct social criticism.[7]

It didn't take too long for the show to start getting a bit of a wider following though at first it proved a challenge. Its core demographic - Sarajevo youth - was on board all along, but getting viewership in other demographics and other parts of the country took some time. Once obtained, this newly found popularity was in large part based on the abundance of colloquialisms and local Sarajevo street parlance - none of which could be seen up to that point on the very buttoned-up Yugoslav TV. In total, eleven episodes were aired during the first season.

Considering each one of the six protagonists was in their early twenties, the sketches expectedly centered around exuberance and improvisation, which dominated over the written material. Significant amount of material was lifted straight from the English series Monty Python's Flying Circus with a slight adaptation for the local setting. According to Karajlić, speaking in 2010, the first installment of Nadrealisti was "the result of our youthful hysteria and it relied more on raw energy than brains".[8] Elvis J. Kurtović, a friend of the crew who was involved with the show in limited creative capacity, said in 2005: "Back when we were kids those Top lista nadrealista episodes were done by people who didn't know jack-squat about television and who shot everything in a single take and on first try. When you watch those episodes today you can see that many of them are badly directed and produced. Not all of them, there're some good ones, but the first series is particularly horrible in this regard".[9][10]

As mentioned, in parallel with Top lista nadrealista, Karajlić also fronted a punk rock band called Zabranjeno Pušenje that released its debut album barely two months before the show's premiere on television. Released by Jugoton, the record was out in limited circulation of 3,000 copies, a number clearly indicative of the label's modest expectations, especially after the poor sales of Elvis J. Kurtović & His Meteors' debut album barely a few months earlier.[11] However, the Zabranjeno Pušenje album eventually started selling surprisingly well, crossing the mark of 100,000 copies sold in the end.

Though none of the other five Top lista nadrealista performers were official Zabranjeno Pušenje members at this point, the two projects frequently overlapped, creating synergy that ultimately helped the popularity of both. By early summer 1984, Top lista nadrealista started getting bit of a wider audience, which in turn helped the sales of the Zabranjeno Pušenje album. By late September, the band sold enough records for a Yugoslavia-wide tour to take place. Karajlić thus devoted more time to the band's tour than to the TV show whose production was now scheduled around his band obligations. The band's success on the road was rapid, and by November they were selling out sports arenas. During a concert in Rijeka in late November 1984, Karajlić made a pun after the Marshall amplifier broke down, jokingly announcing to the crowd: "The Marshall has croaked! .... I mean the amplifier", indirectly alluding to the late Yugoslav lifetime leader Josip Broz Tito who held the military rank of Marshal and who had died four years earlier. The seemingly innocuous statement delivered in jest in-between two songs at a rock concert soon created a firestorm of controversy as various state and communist party bodies went after the band, targeting Karajlić specifically. For weeks and months during late 1984 and early 1985, the print media was full of articles condemning the band over the statement while its gigs were being cancelled. In order to cope with the new situation, the band opted to stay out of the public eye for the time being, which also meant putting the show on hiatus indefinitely.

Second television series (1989)[edit]

It would be more than five years before Nadrealisti returned for the second installment in fall 1989. During that time some of its protagonists achieved a lot of success in other arenas. Nele Karajlić became a veritable country-wide celebrity and a sought-after media personality with an eye-catching stage persona as the vocalist of Zabranjeno Pušenje that put out three more successful albums since its breakout debut one. Branko Đurić was in the process of also becoming quite well-known courtesy of his budding acting career with memorable roles in Audicija comedy show as well as films like Ovo malo duše, Dom za vješanje, Kuduz, and Kako je propao rokenrol while also maintaining a bit of a musical career with Bombaj Štampa. Finally, after its commercially disappointing debut, Dražen Ričl made one more album with Elvis J. Kurtovich & His Meteors, but left right after in spring 1985 as the group effectively disbanded anyway. At the time of their end, Ričl had already been in the process of re-uniting with Zlatko Arslanagić to establish a new band with softer, pop-rock sound and they soon unveiled Crvena Jabuka, a group that immediately started taking off commercially on the scene. However, the energetic 24-year-old would not get to enjoy the fruits of their labour for long as he tragically died on 1 October 1986 from the injuries sustained in a car accident two weeks earlier near Jablanica en route to a Mostar gig in support of their debut album. Zlatko Arslanagić was also in the same car, but managed to survive the horrific crash, and after getting over severe depression decided to continue Crvena Jabuka.

So Nadrealisti reconvened in 1989 without Ričl and Arslangić, but with new protagonists Darko Ostojić, Dado Džihan, and Dražen Janković, as well as Srki Velimirović who kept behind the camera but contributed greatly with sketch ideas and script writing. Their getting together this time was organized and coordinated by Slobodan Terzić, TV Sarajevo executive in charge of cultural-artistic programming. Noticeably more mature and structured, the 8-member group was now directed by 34-year-old Miroslav "Ćiro" Mandić who already had a bit of a cinematic CV behind him, having directed a feature film Život radnika two years earlier and having been one of Emir Kusturica's ADs on the Palme d'Or-winning When Father Was Away on Business in 1985. Talking about his thoughts going into the project, Mandić said:

The written material courtesy of Karajlić and Velimirović became tighter and more polished compared to the series from 1984 as sketches now started hinting a lot more at deeper social issues and trends. The upgrade in production and organizational matters was noticeable from the start of the second series. Implemented in practice it meant that rather than having sketch excerpts that revolve around a theme over an entire episode, the show incorporated different sketches of varied structure and the music numbers got reduced. Right away, the series achieved critical praise along with high viewership rates, exploding all over SFR Yugoslavia.

Sketches that relied on absurdity as the starting point became widely quoted classics almost instantly. Most also provided many thinly veiled hints and winks in reference to the current political and social situation. A very popular sketch featuring "Swedish workers escaping their politically unstable homeland and seeking refuge in Yugoslavia only to find low-skill jobs without work permit for local ruthless small-business bosses", in addition to providing uproarious laughs through well-crafted dialogues, parodied the decades-long drain of Yugoslav nationals to Western Europe in search of better employment opportunities. Another classic sketch, featuring Rade Pendrek, an exemplary and obedient street cop, having a nightmare about waking up in a country where intellectuals in uniforms round up cops to university halls in order to forcibly correct their behaviour by having professors aggressively read Nietzsche and play Mozart to them as worker riot-squads armed with shovels roam the streets outside breaking up police protest rallies, humorously hinted and winked at a wide range of actual events: from the Žuta Greda incident during the Anti-bureaucratic revolution to the party-initiated media and institutional campaigns against dissenting University of Sarajevo professors and lecturers Nenad Kecmanović, Vojislav Šešelj, and Esad Ćimić.

Seven episodes were shot and aired during the season. An additional New Year's special episode was aired on 31 December 1989. A year later, another New Year's episode was shot and aired.

Third television series (1991)[edit]

Members[edit]

Screenwriters, directors & producers[edit]

Guests in sketches[edit]

Offshoots[edit]

Wartime Nadrealisti[edit]

A radio segment using the name 'Top lista nadrealista' aired as part of Dežurni mikrofon programme on Radio BiH during part of the Sarajevo siege.

On 9 May 1992 against the backdrop of rapidly deteriorating security situation in the city of Sarajevo as well as the rest of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Radio Sarajevo got restructured by merging its channels one, two, and three as well as its channel 202 into a single channel that officially got renamed Radio BiH.[13] Boro Kontić who performed editor-in-chief duties at Radio Sarajevo's channel two since 1990 now continued as one of the more influential executives at Radio BiH. Right away, he decided to bring back Dežurni mikrofon, an hour-long political magazine that for years aired on old Radio Sarajevo's channel one. The new timeslot was Sundays at 9am and its first broadcast in renewed form aired on 24 May 1992.[14]

In late June 1992, several months into the Bosnian War with the city already firmly divided between the neighbourhoods and surrounding areas held by the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) and the central neighbourhoods controlled by the Bosnian Muslim-dominated Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH), Kontić decided to re-assemble the group that made Top lista nadrealista by giving them a 15-minute segment on Dežurni mikrofon. For the very first gathering, he managed to find many of the individuals previously involved with the show or New Primitives who were still in the city at the time: Đuro, Zenit Đozić, Šiber, Srki Velimirović, Elvis J. Kurtović, Zlatko Arslangić, Sejo Sexon, and Saša Petrović, as well as new faces Haris "Gigo" Aljević, Haris Memija, and Almir "Batko" Čehajić. Đuro and Zlatko Arslanagić fled Sarajevo soon afterwards so that the remaining protagonists did the 15-minute weekly radio shows in the second part of 1992 and into 1993.[15] Made in irregular circumstances in a besieged town with war raging all around, the primary objective of the short weekly segment was boosting citizen morale though very few could even hear it due to electrical power being in scarce supply so that the show would open with lines such as "good evening to all three of you who still have generators".[16]

In 1993, after 50 odd shows on radio, the group shot and aired four television episodes. One war-time sketch showed Serbs arresting obviously innocent Czech tourists who got lost on their way to seaside as Muslim extremists and terrorists. Other sketch shows how a Bosniak "Super Imam" heals a child of Chetnik spirit.

Nadreality Show[edit]

Nadreality Show was made in 2007 as a partial reunion of some of the old crew from Top lista nadrealista. Of the returning protagonists Zenit Đozić, Elvis J. Kurtović, and Darko Ostojić were present, along with a slew of new actors.

Radio Televizija Bosne I Hercegovine alongside RTL Televizija and B92 broadcast Nadreality Show in 2007 with few sketches. The main person in the sketches was Zenit Đozić.

Nadrealna televizija[edit]

In fall 2012 Nele Karajlić began preparations for a sketch comedy series, marking his return to the format after more than twenty years. On 12 December 2012, the pilot episode of Nadrealna televizija appeared on 1Prva, drawing high viewership rates.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]