“Babu-Moshai hum toh rang-manch ki katputliya hai, jiski dorr uss upar wale k haath se bandhi hui hai. Kaun kaha uthega ye koi nahi jaanta” plays the recorder as Anand (Rajesh Khanna) breathes his last.
Released in 1971, Anand was supposedly Bollywood’s first-ever attempt to depict the typical emotional healing methodology storyline. The most recent attempt being Dear Zindagi (2016). Bollywood’s approach to the theme revolves around disturbed and happy-go-lucky characters with latter being the healer, giving the other a bright alternate view of life. Unlike this, Anand shades a difference wherein the sufferer is the one healing the disturbed. Read the right, read on.
Following a flashback debut novelist and Cancer specialist Bhaskar Banerjee (Amitabh Bachchan) talks about his experiences with Anand. Diagnosed with Lymphoma of Intestine, Anand knew his days were numbered, nevertheless lived his life to the fullest. For he believed: “Zindagi badhi honi chahiye, lambi nahi”.
Bhaskar was a pessimist, disheartened of the atrocities he had witnessed in his profession. Anand balances his life by turning it upside down. For example, he exclaimed Bhaskar’s hidden feelings in front of his love interest indirectly and joined them on their date. For he thought that the shy cancer specialist wouldn’t be able to express his feelings.
Anand had failed in love and had a turbulent family life. Despite of which, he was ever cheerful and expected others to be the same. There were instances when people around him didn’t respond to his happy-go-lucky nature positively. For example, the sturn Sister Dessa, the strict nurse who becomes his Ma. The movie isn’t only about sympathising about the goner, but also laughing to Anand’s random interactions and encounters. For he felt ‘vibes’, which promoted him to bang into strangers referring to them as Murari Lal, who allegedly knocked him out over beer at the Qutub Minar.
This is among the most under-rated performances by BigB. The character also serves as the epicentre of his later evolved image of ‘Angry Young Man’. The pessimist, kind, and disciplined cancer patient couldn’t have had a better actor essaying the role. He also compliments yesteryear Superstar Rajesh Khanna in the best fashion.
Complimenting the storyline are the soulful voices of Mukesh, Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey. My favourites being Zindagi kaisi hai Paheli haaye and Kahi Door jab Din Dhal Jaaye. Sung by Manna Dey and Mukesh respectively, there have been recurrent attempts to re-create the tracks, especially in Unplugged symposiums and reality shows. A particular scene, where Anand recalls his sorrow past holding his diary with Zindagi Kaisi hai Paheli playing in the backdrop makes your heart weep. Mukesh’s voice coupled with the tragic lyrics does wonders. Popularly known for lending voice to heart-breaking tracks depicting pain, anguish and sorrow Mukesh did full justice to the certification.
During the time, Rajesh Khanna was at the peak of his stardom while BigB was new on the block. Post the movie received an exquisite response, Anand Babu hereby declared his co-actor as the next big superstar. Perhaps, the industry’s first-ever superstar for once thought his times were approaching. While Khanna kept giving one after another blockbuster, Amitabh Bachchan was still attempting to steady his ship. Perhaps, the only instance when superstars of two different eras worked together. Production houses those days wouldn’t really adopt elaborate marketing strategies, perhaps, the reason why Senior AB might have lauded a role in a ‘superstar’ flick.
Watch the movie for its simplicity. While people around Anand were driven by insecurities and grief, a man nearly on his deathbed strives for an existence larger than life. They could hate him, but you wouldn’t be able to prevent yourself from loving him. Even the uncompromising nurse Ms. Dessa or the once stranger Isa Bhai couldn’t resist themselves from when they heard of his illness. A scene where Anand tells Renu’s mother informs his inability to be present at the wedding, and she blesses him a long life is ironic. The biggest take-away shall be the timeless dialogues. They are ironic and always convey a larger meaning to life. Bongs being referred to as Babumoshai, was made popular by Rajesh Khanna’s character.
All in all, make sure that you have enough tissues. For this movie promises to make you cry buckets. The storyline convinces you to an extent, that like the characters you too would desperately want Anand winning the lost battle. But, only to realise that this is false hope and sympathise. Preceding times of masala story lines, the movie is simple and there is something of you in every character. The perfect family entertainer can be best summed up as a movie, which is cheerful and sad at the same time. The movie gives you a lot to learn, and even more to cry.