‘Anand’, the film, is about hope in despair, about finding trust in travesty, about finding life in death. Rajesh Khanna gives one of his career-best performances in this ‘fun-filled’ tragedy of a man who lives his life to the fullest despite death looming nearer. The film also marks the emergence of Amitabh Bachchan as an actor to reckon with.
Rajesh Khanna passed away last week leaving behind a legacy of unforgettable films. ‘Anand’ remains an important part of his filmography. It not only shows how to die, but teaches us about how to live!
Anand Saigal (Rajesh Khanna), a young man from Delhi is suffering from a terminal disease (lymphosarcoma of the intestine) and doesn’t have much time left to live. He comes to Bombay (now Mumbai) to meet his friend Doctor Prakash Kulkarni (Ramesh Deo) to live his last days as well as to get treated for his disease. Doctor Bhaskar K. Banerjee (Amitabh Bachchan) is given Anand’s responsibility. Upon their very first meeting, Anand blows the duo away with his spirited, fun-filled demeanour. Just like the two doctors, even Prakash’s wife Suman (Seema Deo), Matron D’Sa (Lalita Pawar), Bhaskar’s love interest Renu (Sumita Sanyal) are distraught after learning about Anand’s condition. They feel even more helpless after encountering his friendly behaviour and pleasant personality.
Anand and Bhaskar forge a wonderful friendship. Anand is willing to help each and everyone around him. However, he doesn’t believe in sharing his own pains in life with anyone. Being extremely talkative by nature, Anand cannot bear being confined to the four walls of his hospital room and runs away to stay with his much-adored ‘Babu Moshai’ Bhaskar.
The film was made in the year 1971 yet; it still is immensely entertaining and relevant even in today’s times. Watching Rajesh Khanna (who passed away last week) in his elements as the sprightly, fun-loving and ever-so-enduring Anand lifts your spirits. Watching him die on-screen which has been a cinematic marvel for years suddenly becomes melancholic following his death.
The dialogue ‘Zindagi Badi Honi Chahiye, Lambi Nahin’ has remained a memorable dialogue across decades. The line brings about vivid emotions within you. It is indeed heart-wrenching to hear this line from a dying man. Other instances, where Rajesh Khanna shares his ideas about life, love and death with Amitabh Bachchan are touching, and brilliantly performed.
Rajesh Khanna was going through a purple patch, career wise, during that time period and the glow on his face, the confidence in his body language showed. Amitabh Bachchan gives a sedate performance as Doctor Bhaskar. The final scene of the film, where he weeps on Anand’s dead body, is excellently performed by Bachchan. Considering that the film was made at a time when Bachchan was only beginning his career, shows that he had it in him to be the next big ‘superstar’ after Rajesh Khanna.
Salil Choudhury, the music director has given memorable numbers in ‘Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli Haaye’, ‘Maine Tere Liye Hi Saat Rang Ke Sapne’. Singers such as Manna Dey, Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar lend their voices in this simple four-song soundtrack.
The writing by stalwarts including Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Gulzar, D.N.Mukherjee and Bimal Dutta, was exceptional. The story is a simple one, a man, who knows he is going to die, refuses to give up on life. However, the dialogues (Gulzar) strike a chord and make this simple story a great one.
The director (Hrishikesh Mukherjee) extracts stupendous performances from his leading men Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna. Even the supporting leads Ramesh Deo, Seema Deo, Sumita Sanyal and Lalita Pawar tailor into the story seamlessly. One of the most significant scenes in the film comes when Anand wants to record Bhaskar’s voice in his tape recorder but deliberately takes time to speak so that he can create a lull period in between (knowing fully well that the tape will be played when he dies).
Another important scene that plays out during the film is when Rajesh Khanna approaches a pehelwan Dara Singh to thrash a few eve-teasing goons. It was touching to see the two great recently-deceased stars share the frame together.
It is these little moments that makes the film so memorable and a classic, in the truest sense of the word. Hrishikesh Mukherjee excellently conceives, writes and directs this wonderful film. (First Posted in MSN)