Rating : Very Good (4.2/5)
Genre : Drama
Year : 2013
Running time : 1 hour 48 minutes
Director : Rajat Kapoor
Cast : Sanjay Mishra, Rajat Kapoor, Seema Pahwa, Taranjit Kaur, Namit Das, Maya Sarao
Kidwise : G
I first got a whiff of this film when director Rajat Kapoor (of “Mithya” fame) was casting around for funding for the film on twitter, and later when he would post updates of the shooting and production. Now the film has made it to Netflix, and a very worthy addition it is.
In this film, Raje Bauji (Sanjay Mishra) and his family live together in the Fatehpuri area of Delhi. This is a typically old Delhi, middle class joint family, because Bauji’s younger brother Rishi (Rajat Kapoor) and his family also live in the same house. The house is a set of small, tightly packed rooms with a central courtyard and a common kitchen and bathroom. All co-exist in relative peace; the expected carping and quibbling is ongoing but does not affect the family dynamic much.
What does affect it though is Bauji’s vow of absolute truth – of not believing anything not seen with one’s own eyes – hence the title “ankhon dekhi”. This personal realization comes to him suddenly after a certain unpleasant incident involving his much loved daughter Rita and Ajju (Das), the young man she wants to marry. Once Bauji has made up his mind to keep the vow, he goes about it with much vigor, and his keeping to the absolute truth has unpleasant repercussions on daily life. His long suffering wife is much annoyed, and friends and relatives declare him unsound of mind. But Bauji keeps at it.
This film then is Bauji’s journey through life, the ups and downs, the joys and the sorrows. The film is centered around him and his unique “aankhon dekhi” philosophy, but it also tells us about all the people around him. He tells us that life has been happy and pleasant, but has it been the same for the other members of his family?
There is his wife Amma (Seema Bhargav Pahwa, whom you might remember as “Badhki” from “Hum Log”), his son Manu and his daughter Rita (Sarao). Then there is his younger brother Rishi, his wife (played by Kaur) and his kids. There are also an assortment of relatives, friends and employers (one played by Saurabh Shukla). Each of their characters is finely sketched, and the film comes alive under the director’s skilled hands. The film’s story has perspicacity, the ability to look beyond characters – it lays each one’s life out on display to the viewer but does not judge – it leaves that to you. You might consider Bauji an inconsiderate fool who has stuck on to his unwieldy oath, or you might consider him an enlightened man, but that is quite up to you.
Sometimes you watch a film, and it seems pleasant enough and engrossing enough and you go on, swept up in its flow, only aware that it is a thing of grace and beauty. “Aankhon Dekhi” is that kind of film. It is not extra-ordinarily fast paced or bombastic. It moves leisurely through the many events taking it’s time telling us of the effect Bauji’s unique vow is having. But it is smooth, and seamless and engrossing, and it stays with you long after.
Quite gorgeous! Highly recommended.