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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 44, New Delhi, October 16, 2021

50 Years of Anand — The Film Which Underlined the Purpose of Human Life in Taking Happiness to Others | Bharat Dogra

Friday 15 October 2021, by Bharat Dogra

Fulfillment of human life is in utilising many small and big opportunities in daily life to take happiness to others. The supreme fulfillment is in the ability to achieve this even when faced with much personal distress.

This is the most noble message which the famous Hindi film Anand took to millions of admiring film-viewers in 1971. In the 50 years since this, the admiration for this iconic film and its message has only grown. This film has been included in several listings of ‘must see’ and greatest Hindi films.

This message is conveyed in the film by capturing the last few months of a terminally ill patient Anand Sehgal, played to near perfection by Rajesh Khanna, who firmly believes in and practices this lightly, although he knows how to carry this lightly. Although suffering from cancer, he believes in enjoying and spreading the joys of life, using his natural talents for fun and humour. In the process, this film with a very noble message is also full of fun and laughter, although the underlying tragedy of a beautiful human life tragically drifts towards end at a young age from cancer is always there in the background. A film with several smiles and one big tear, as Chaplin would have said.

This film has almost all the qualities of great cinema—great direction and editing by Hrishikesh Mukerjee, very good story and dialogue (by Hrishikesh and Gulzar) as well as outstanding performances by actors. The lyrics written by Yogesh and Gulzar were composed beautifully by the one and only Salil Chowdhary to create some great songs, sung very soulfully by Mukesh and Manna Dey—philosophical songs like Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli, Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaaye and Maine Tere Liye Hi Saat Rang Ke Sapne, still hummed by so many people.

This film is an acting triumph for Rajesh Khanna ( already a super-star) and Amitabh Bachan (at that time still a struggling actor). During the same year 1971 at least seven big hits of Rajesh Khanna were released, including Haathi Mere Saathi, Dushman, Maryada and Kati Patang. Despite being such a busy star at that time, Rajesh Khanna has given a very special performance in this film. Although several other reputed actors were also considered for this role, one ends up with the feeling after watching the film that no one could have done this role better than Rajesh Khanna. In the middle of all his other and even bigger commercial hits, Rajesh Khanna could really give his best to this film. A part of the credit for this also goes to Hrishikesh, who completed shooting for this great film in just 28 days. This shows how well he had prepared. This helped even an extremely busy actor to perform with the kind of involvement and continuity in a role which needed this, something which would not have been possible if the shooting had dragged on for a long time with many distractions.

This film retains a very important place in the life and career of Amitabh, as this is the first film which endeared him to the Indian film audience in the memorable role here of an idealist doctor, made angry by the injustice and crass commercialism around him, badly needing the soothing touch of tenderness which hs friend of a few months Anand brings into his life.

Even some of the smaller roles, like Lalita Pawar as nurse and Seema Deo as a sister, leave a lasting impression. And what a truly memorable role has been created for the inimitable Johnny Walker as Isa Bhai, and only he could have done full justice to this role.

All in all, this is truly one of the greatest Hindi films.

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