The first time I heard of Mr. Rajat Kapoor was when two of my friends and I had bought the wrong tickets at a local cinema hall and ended up watching his film Mithya instead of Jodhaa Akbar. I have always appreciated the cinema he creates with the help of like minded actors and crew who are often repeated in the movies he either directs or acts in.
Mr. Kapoor’s movies have always had a cult following. Be it Bheja Fry or Fatso or Raat Gayi, Baat Gayi?, each has been appreciated for their distinctively grounded performances and unique scripts. But they have never lasted for more than a couple of weeks at regular cinema halls that thrive on mainstream cinema.
His latest directorial venture, Aankhon Dekhi , released a few days back. Produced under the banner of Mithya Talkies, here comes a movie that critics have once again loved but yet relegated to that highly potent but under-watched lot of niche cinema. I disagree. If Hindi cinema is truly moving towards a direction where there is an equal space for movies like The Lunchbox and Chennai Express, then Mr. Kapoor’s film can no longer be called niche. It embodies a spirit of Indian-ness that is missing from the movies that are being churned out everyday.
Then again, don’t be mistaken. This isn’t a film that portrays a lower middle class family trying hard to make both ends meet with the director hoping that people will feel sorry for his characters and end up loving the movie. Neither does it rely on showing hope where there can be none. The sublime script of Aankhon Dekhi steers clear of all these traps.
Put in plain words, it is a story that even Premchand would be impressed with. A story, which at its heart is all about a single man’s sudden intellectual manifestation on his daily life.
Sanjay Mishra, who I will always see as Shukla ji of Office Office, plays Bauji and is the hero of this beautifully executed movie. Prompted by an incident involving his daughter, he decides that he will no longer believe or quote from something that he doesn’t personally experience. What follows is mostly interpreted by his family and friends as an unfortunate descent towards insanity. Bauji acknowledges the effects his decisions have, but nevertheless relents on his new found ideas. Bauji is the best performance by an Indian actor in this past one year.
In a country where word-of-mouth has a significant influence, Aankhon Dekhi will serve as a thought-provoking creation. Yes, some of Bauji’s arguments might seem bland and foolish. Take for example a sequence where he argues with his nephew’s Mathematics teacher about parallel lines meeting at infinity. Keeping his arguments aside, it will serve us good if we were to take inspiration from the character’s decision to rely on facts.
All said and done, one doesn’t go to the cinema to learn a lesson of morality. I apologize for wasting my dear reader’s time on unnecessary talk. Blame it on my sudden desire to become Rajat Kapoor’s flag-bearer. Now, the movie is packed with entertainment. You will keep laughing at the idiosyncrasies of every character.
I must add that the character of Amma, portrayed by Seema Pahwa, has wrongly been reviewed by some journalists as a wife who is loud and is a drama-queen. Within the liberties of my freedom of expression, I can safely say that I saw in her my mother and most other Indian mothers I know. Not once does she seem overboard or unrealistic.
The background music is a great help. It is never too loud or distracting and will help you to focus on the dialogues and the acting. What about the storyline? It has everything in it; ranging right from romance, weddings, family drama, humor to surprise.
Aankhon Dekhi has not been released across smaller cities. It is a shame. The movie would have been better appreciated across these cities.
How much the movie gains is Mr. Rajat Kapoor’s concern. One can only hope that he earns enough to make another gem.
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