Wednesday, September 7, 2011
After watching this Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri starrer from the early 70s, I was really surprised why this movie is not talked about more often. It is a light-hearted suspense drama, with some crackling romantic moments between the lead pair and some wonderful songs. Now this may sound like one of those movies that attempt a mishmash of all genres in the garb of producing an entertaining product, but this one has a core strong story too that holds everything together. And if I may add, it is one of the most entertaining movies I have seen from the 1970s.
Devendra (Sanjeev Kumar in a role far off from what he was more renowned for) plays a famous writer, who incidentally is a misogynist, and an unabashed one at that. He lives with his uncle (AK Hangal), his niece, and a secretary Hanuman (Asrani in a typical comic role). One night, while they all are returning from a press conference, they spot a woman (Jaya Bhaduri) being thrown off from a car on a deserted road near their home. They rush forward to help, and discover that the woman had gone unconscious. On the insistence of his Uncle, Devendra takes her to their place. The next morning, when the woman gains consciousness, she starts behaving oddly and to everyone’s utter surprise, claims to be Devendra’s wife. The family doctor is called for and he tells them that the woman has sustained some internal injuries and needs to be taken care of for fast recovery. Against his will, and again on his Uncle’s insistence, Devendra agrees to let her stay at their home, on the condition that he would not play-act to be her husband. But things begin to change when he starts falling in love with the simplicity, charm, and devotedness of this woman (who they start referring to as Anamika). What happens next and how Devendra gets embroiled in a potentially dangerous turn of events that threaten to play with life and his composure, is what the movie is all about.
The movie has many elements that are associated with most commercial movies of that time. It has a clichéd comic track featuring Asrani, but the guy makes it work by his sheer capacity to embrace buffoonery. It has a seduction number (which is far from seduction and is actually a very cute romantic song), a Helen dance number (a signatory RD Burman offering), an evil villain lusting after the lead heroine, and a quintessential AK Hangal performance. The movie even gives Sanjeev Kumar the opportunity to do some action and beat up some goons (the only time the man looks awkward on screen). But despite all this, it is a highly entertaining enterprise that is lent solidarity by the sincerity and calm presence of its lead actors. They are aided in their endeavor by some fine dialogues and some crisp writing, not to mention the tight pace maintained by the director (Raghunath Jalani) over the sequence of events. The one thing he could have changed (or rather done away completely with), are the last five minutes of the film. But despite that ‘Anamika’ has a runtime of just over 120 minutes.
This movie is an example of how two fine actors can take a good story to a different level altogether. The brilliance of Sanjeev Kumar gets reflected in many scenes, which he handles with the dexterity and command that very few actors of time could have managed without appearing theatrical. The sequences when he falls in love with Anamika are a sheer delight to watch. Jaya Bhaduri gets a meaty role and does full justice to it. Again very few actresses from that time could have done what she has done in this movie convincingly (in fact no one in my opinion). The movie is embellished with some beautiful music by RD Burman, which is given full justice by making the songs a seamless part of the narrative and not mere add-ons (except the Helen number, and understandably so). The songs “Bahon mein Chale aao’ and ‘Meri Bheegi Bheegi si’ deserve special mention.
Parting Note: The movie is a highly enjoyable watch, and I guess can be categorized as ‘intelligent-popcorn cinema’ (if people don’t find it an ‘Oxymoron’ish phrasing).