Milind’s Reflections: Why Anand remains the Greatest Indian Cinematic Endeavour!

Before I make the post a discussion on Anand, let me take you to the opening scene of Bawarchi. The characters are introduced one by one and the simplicity of introduction makes each viewer amply versed with the characters he is going to deal with. This approach was a trademark of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s saga. A signature later seen in Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s movies, most noticeably Ellapthiyam. It is striking how the “simple” outplays the “complex”. The later ideology remains the core around which many film-makers weave their stories. Hrishikesh Da created a world where villains were not mortals with guns in hands but simple men with the lapse of humanity in their approach.

Taking the last point of my previous para forward, it is also imperative to note that the negativity, howsoever little it was in Bawarchi came from the mutual grievances and frictions that take place in any household. The differences in ideology towards life [an approach that made Anand immortal] and the effects of living in a joint household with the intent of gaining property allows an outsider like Khanna to gain entrance to the home and master them all. If one thinks quietly, no home that is built on mutual trust and admiration transfers the administrative rights into the hands of an “outsider”. An “outsider” is not allowed into the system, instead he is kept at periphery. Hrishikesh Da by mixing the two created a scenario where the chapters of life were left bare out in the open.

Ok,Now Let’s move to Anand. Imagine this: Again an “outsider” is allowed to invade the system, play with the strings, tighten them according to his own imagination and then leave it in the state of perfection. It quite resembles the effect of a catalyst that sped up the reaction but never could allow himself to become an integral part of the proceedings. The origin of the catalyst is never known except a few excerpts about his past where he is heard conversing with the love of his life in a recorded cassette. You know he is heartbroken by a glimpse of the preserved rose petals in the middle of a shayari book. [Note the perfection..the book is printed in Urdu and not Hindi. Hrishikesh Da was very particular about these stuffs.] You know he is not only fighting a battle for life but is also at constant war against the ghost of past. He is not only bidding goodbye to life but also to the pain he is suffering. Khanna essays a role that evokes sympathy like never before and that sympathy has been much less replicated thereafter. This single stroke makes Anand a vehicle of emotions that not only strikes your naked heart but also exposes its hollowness. Lymphosarcoma of the Intestine suddenly becomes an easy terminology because Hrishikesh Da merges it with the pathos of death immediately. It no longer remains, possibly, an out of reach terminology for the layman or an uninteresting one. Notice how it is made the crux of the film and the viewer is allowed an insight into the last days of a dying man. This is a herculean effort,it may seem miniscule but ask any recent film-maker to make a terminology like “Rhabdomysocracoma of Nose” as the principal tool of his film, he will give it some umpteen thoughts. Not to forget the layman is actually very well informed as of today.

What makes Anand special is the camaraderie between Khanna and Amitabh. They weave together an unusual friendship and forge a relationship that shreds any doubt,whatsoever regards the relationship being a momentary sympathy induced one. The fact is displayed in the climax of the film where Amitabh who is so in love with Khanna, is not able to see him breathe his last and Khanna dies with “Babu Moshai” on his lips. What can beat this display of love between two strangers? Possibly a “Thelma and Louise” but that is an entirely different concept. Nothing can beat this terrific commentary on times of our lives, it reflects on the mundane, makes it seem special and then teaches us a bit or two about it. Khanna is so naturally at ease in his portrayal that not once you feel he is overdoing it. The basic danger with this goody-goody role stuff is that you tend to overplay it, sometimes overact. Barring a few moments, Khanna is pitch perfect. And the one moment I felt he is bit overplaying it, the scene is recounted as one of the best scenes. I am referring to the dialogue–“Hum sab rangmanch ki…….”. Such is the impact of this film that the tone of emotional achieves a new dimension. Amitabh in his role of a Bengali doctor who is principled is a perfect complement to the class act of Khanna. I have always said,”Tom Cruise” in “A Few Good Men” was the reason why “Nicholsan” could look so wonderful. He aptly complemented him in the minimal minutes he had with him on-screen. The “complement” part is also a dangerous one. If the key is not of the lock,your mystery remains unraveled. Similarly the complement plays an important part in imparting the desired dimension to the main protagonist’s role. Amitabh in his brooding persona with gravity dropping from his face,holding myriad emotions within is akin to the anchor of the film. He safely provides a scaffold for the whole reaction to occur. It is such a striking stuff that you never see much changes in Amitabh’s expressions but he never allows you to be not able to interpret him! Khanna surpasses him in almost all dimensions of acting,thanks to the manner in which Amitabh holds the whole premise strongly. He is telling the story and he lets the vision flow and Khanna elevates the vision.

The “Murari Lal” sequence between Khanna,Amitabh and Johny Walker later inspired a similar sequence with Anupam Kher and Kader Khan in a film from 90’s. That sequence is amusing. The foolishness of patting any stranger on the roads and striking a conversation suddenly seems so inviting. It is a testimony to the master direction of the maestro who converted such inanimate stuffs to animate. Another terrific scene is the place where Durga Khote blesses Khanna with a long life, not knowing that her blessings as a mother will not have the desired impact. I always cry at the scene. Also the “aapne mujhe beta bulaya..” stuff was later copied in DDLJ between SRK and Farida Jalal to a good extent. Anand explores the various avenues that life opens up and pleads us to find such avenues and steal happiness. It is paradoxical that such avenues come up only when life is little left. But then again magically Anand provides you with solution– “Babu Moshai.. Zindagi badi honi chahiye, Lambi nahi”. When has a film been so poignant and ethereal in its approach. So subtle yet so effective in its impact!!! Anand laments at the loss of life by all its character apart from Khanna who becomes the reason for it but see the paradox again.. it leaves you with grief but a hope that “Anand mara nahi.. Anand mara nahi karte”. Never in history has any film been so hurting and comforting in the same scene. No one has ever managed to balance the two emotions so nicely. If Khanna becomes the messenger of God, If he becomes the Christ of Life… Amitabh becomes the example of a mango-man who must learn from the life of the “Christ”. Hrishikesh elevates Anand to an education tour but without a documentary effect. It reflects upon life from almost all angles, be it Khanna’s or Amitabh’s or Ramesh’s or Seema’s and derives at a conclusion but never lets the conclusion reach to you in words. Instead it shows a bunch of balloons flying high in the air, several colours in there… and makes you sit back and think over the immortal song– “Zindagi Kaisi hai Paheli Haaye”.

I don’t know whether Khanna was a superstar or nor or whether Amitabh was the next one or not.. what I know is that both never did a better film than this ever!

Milind/Anupam

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18 Comments
  1. Author
    Milind 7 years ago

    I wanted to write this for long but hectic duties never let it materialize. But today I could.

    Enjoy.

    • sputnik 7 years ago

      Good post MIlind. Yes this is Rajesh Khanna’s best performance and film but but I don’t agree with you that Amitabh never did a film better than this. Amitabh did Sholay and Deewar after this.

      • Baba Ji 7 years ago

        sputnik – anand is not amitabhs best film bcos it is basically not his fim,it is RK’s film ๐Ÿ˜€

        amitabhs best is no doubt deewar and trishul.

        • Author
          Milind 7 years ago

          It is not about whose film is it.It is about what they did in these films. Nicholsan was not even for 15 min in A Few Good Men but all know it as his film. Yes,Anand is basically Khanna’s story but for me Amitabh’s best was this– strong,committed,aggressive,emotional,frustarted,vocal and finally empty!

          Sholay for me is a good fun but nowhere compared to Anand…I cannot watch it now at one go.Yes it is iconic and much more.

          I love Amitabh in Anand,Deewar,Namak Haraam,Chupke Chupke,Abhimaan,Hera Pheri,Zanjeer,Do aur Do Paanch…

  2. Author
    Milind 7 years ago

    Sputnik,

    Thanks.

    I never considered Sholay as greatest.It is a good fare,an iconic affair. Deewar is a classic for me personally.But Anand remains the best of that Amitabh who was damn good as an actor– He evolved into doing Abhimaan,Namak Haraam,Chupke Chupke and I see such films as his pinnacle.For me Amitabh was born as an angry young man in Zanjeer and he died in Deewar.A Circle!

    • Baba Ji 7 years ago

      great post milind,it was long awaited so thanks for posting .

      i agree with you on sholay.it is a masala film which is very well made.deewar is also very well made and acted.But anand is may be the best mainstream film ever made.This along with bawarchi is a gem in RKs career.I saw bits of amar prem recently and didnt like it.I am not fond of his romantic films.

      • Baba Ji 7 years ago

        milind – i dont think amitabh was bad as the “angry young man” even after deewar,but yes the quality of his films after 70s was never the same.Salim-javed were also losing their touch writing craps like shakti and kranti.so may be it was a collective exhaustion.

        • Author
          milind 7 years ago

          When a stuff becomes repetitive,it starts losing its sheen.Amitabhs downfall was worse than Khanna.Khanna got beaten by the change in time.Amitabh got beaten by his own stereotyped image. ๐Ÿ˜€

    • sputnik 7 years ago

      I disagree with you and Baba on Sholay. Yes Anand is a great film and a personal favorite too but to me Sholay is the best Hindi film ever. It has everything – a great story, screenplay, dialogues, performances, cinematography, background music and action. The only thing I never liked in Sholay was the stupid final fight scene of Thakur jumping in air to kill Gabbar.

      Yes Abhimaan, Namak Haraam, Chupke Chupke were all very good films and had very good performances of Amitabh. Amitabh was a angry young man even in Anand. He was not a cop (Zanjeer) or a criminal (Deewar) but he was still angry. Amitabh’s best performance for me is Deewar.

      • Baba Ji 7 years ago

        sholay might be the most entertaining film to me but may be not the best.it is too long for one.many felt the film should have ended in the holi fight.there are many redundant scenes.it is difficult to watch the whole film at a stretch today.try watching it on zee cinema ๐Ÿ˜‰

        I can watch anand,bawarchi anytime.I think both were perfect blend of mainstream and art.

  3. Shalu 7 years ago

    What a write-up Milind!! There is not a single sentence I don’t agree with. I have read many write-ups/reviews on Anand but this is the very best. Kudos!

    • Author
      Milind 7 years ago

      Thanks Shalu.Miss your write-ups here.Do make a point to post on TQ.You will see some great discussion here.The volume may not be huge but the quality is great! ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Baba Ji 7 years ago

    btw,utkal once told me that anand may be influenced by kurosawa’s Ikiru (1952)

    “A bureaucrat tries to find a meaning in his life after he discovers he has terminal cancer.”

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044741/

    • sputnik 7 years ago

      I had also mentioned this before. I remember reading some Gulzar interview where he said that he saw Ikiru and adapted it to Anand.

      “Same can be said about Hrishikesh Mukherjee too. His movies Anand (Ikiru), Namak Haraam (Beckett), Abhimaan (A Star is Born) were inspired and his movies like Bawarchi (Galpa Holeo Satyi) and Chupke Chupke (Chhadmabeshi) were remakes of Bengali films.”

      Blast from the Past – Hrishikesh Mukherjee Interview: They reduced Amitabh Bachchan to a stunt man.

      • raunak 4 years ago

        Gulzar didn’t saw Ikiru. Hrishida and Sachin Bhowmick saw this film in Berlin, when they went to Berlin film festival with their film ‘Anuradha’.

        And yes, Ikiru is similar to Anand theme wise. But that doesn’t mean it is adapted or remade. Hundreds of films are based on similar themes anyways. I personally think a film should be called inspired only if its story (not theme) is similar and remade only if its screenplay is 50 percent or more similar.

        And yes Hrishida did made some films , which were remakes of Bengali films. But then so did Gulzar , Bimal Roy and even Guru Dutt ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. aryan 7 years ago

    @Milind,

    Brilliant Post. Anand one of my all time favorite movies and I enjoyed reading your post.

    Khanna dying with โ€œBabu Moshaiโ€ on his lips was very emotional scene. Aansoo nikal atey hai woh scene per.

    • Author
      Milind 7 years ago

      Thanks Arayn. ๐Ÿ˜€

      Yes that scene was much emotional. I too cry at that scene.

      And one more thing. Once I saw you on SB saying you not a salman fan. Bhai,I had not referre to you while I was commenting about “arayn” being a salman fan.That aryan is on some other site! ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. Arjun Narayanan 4 years ago

    Hey, I loved your review. There were elements in the film which we took for granted, for example the name of the disease, which was so complex and yet, it is known to all today. Also, you made a very interesting point of the outsider in the system. I had written about Anand a few years back. Do take a look.
    http://visionsofcinema.blogspot.in/2011/09/laughing-all-way-to-death-in-anand.html

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