With the result of the general elections been declared, and the UPA Sarkar acquiring a ‘Bahumat’, it certainly calls for a Bollywood treat and what better than Aandhi .
Gulzar’s Aandhi could not have been more controversial. The subject matter evidently shows reflections of the lives of Indira and Feroz Gandhi, and it was released at a time when India was reeling under emergency (1975). But how could I have known; I was not born then. Watching Aandhi today in the year 2009, only brings me memories of the first time I heard the haunting melodies that this movie had to offer. Yes, I did watch this movie before but, never did I watch it with a mature understanding of Indian politics, the issues surrounding it and the sensibilities that this movie portrayed . But having watched it now, I can say Aandhi definitely sums up to a very compelling drama of a movie where political inclination and ego clashes between a man and a woman leads to a family’s disintegration. It echoes the feelings of Abhimaan, but with a political twist.
The story begins with political leader Aarti Devi being arranged a stay at a hotel where JK is the manager. Aarti Devi is in the city to campaign for the elections, and both of them eventually get to meet after a gap of 10 years. Aarti Devi was once JK’s wife (however, they never did tell us about any divorce).The story unwinds in a series of flashbacks narrating the story of JK and Aarti- how they met each other for the first time and fell in love. Aarti (Suchitra Sen) is an Oxford alumni, born to a rich father and has aspirations to join politics. JK (Sanjeev Kumar) is an ordinary working class guy who prefers to keep life simple. Although Aarti loves JK’s simplicity and creative poetry, her ambitious father and her own aspirations are not appreciated by JK. This battle of egos ultimately results in them separating, even when they have a daughter who is a year old. Aarti goes ahead with her political career and JK shifts cities and jobs until they are destined to meet after 10 years. Will this bring their lives together or will the family reunion be still not possible? The film deals with all of these questions surrounded by the tactics and dirty strategies of Indian politics.
Released at a time of political unrest, I can imagine how difficult it would have been to get this movie pass the censor borad. The political remarks made by this movie are absolutely hard-hitting. From business tycoons backing up political leaders for a mutually beneficial deal to exposing corruption at every level, Aandhi does not compromise. The dirty politics played by the opposition to get more publicity (to get featured on the front page of a newspaper) or to instigate pelting of stones at a campaign rally of the opposition – all of thes e terms are very much mainstream now, (thanks to Aaj Tak and all the legions of news channels reporting Uma Bharati and Mayawati falling from stage or cutting birthday cakes). But imagine talking about this at a time when Operation Bluestar happened and Indira Gandhi declared national emergency. Add to that a story of a woman politician, leaving her family for politics – the obvious comparison that emerges from it. Bravo, I must say.
Coming to the performances, Sanjeev Kumar makes me believe in the anguish that JK goes through. He makes me laugh when he cracks the jokes about him doing anything and everything at age 12, and also his repulsion to politics. 10 years brought with it a lot of grey to their hair, and judging by the looks they had when they got married, they were indeed quite old for marriage. As for Suchitra Sen as Aarti Devi, there is something about her that I cannot describe in words. There is a secret in her smile, an innate pain when she emotes her sadness, and extreme joy when she exhales her jubilance. Although, her dialogue delievery in Hindi is not very impressive, I will have to excuse that considering her character is Bengali ( Aarti’s surname is Bose). I am still very much touched by her performance and I know that until I see her Bengali movies ( of which my mum and dad are big fans ) I will not be able to appreciate the magic of Suchitra Sen. But judging from Aandhi, Suchitra Sen brings Aarti Devi to life, crystal clear.
Last but not the least, RD Burman’s immortal music makes this movie a must watch. And with the risk of repeating myself, I should say, that the music of Aandhi is haunting. Not very often do I get the chance of choosing the best song in a movie, because when I watch the movie I get it instantaneously. But I am in a fix here. The three main songs of the movie – Is Mod Se Jaate Hai, Tum Aa Gaye Ho Nuur Aa Gaya Hai and Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi, all three are equally my favorites. Kishore and Lata never sounded so beautiful together, and Gulzar’s lyrics are to die for. [ I will surely have to come back for a detailed review of the soundtrack of Aandhi] To sum it up, Aandhi is a must watch for JK and Aarti Devi, for Gulzar’s bold cinematical expose [long before Maachis] and for RD Burman. Hardly, does it get better than this.
**SOME MORE SCREENSHOTS FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE**
1. The Make-Up of the 70’s ..aah the abundance of Kaajal..
2. Sanjeev Kumar – JK’s heels..Uunche Log…Uunchi Pasand
3. AK Hangal – Brinda Kaka cries
4. Egos clash ..Abhimaan-esque
5. The Naara incident ..See it