Atmosphere for Hindi movies with the matter of quality is not very good these days. On the other hand with the matter of quantity of money they are earning, movies are touching skies. In this foray of ridicule some filmmakers do manage to do well.
In the first place I see no reason whatsoever why an ordinary person would go and watch Ankhon Dekhi’ in theatres. Reasons are so obvious; it has no superstar, no ‘fancy’ heroines, no item songs, and no big budget, not directors whose previous movies made big bucks and not even a remake of any South Indian movie. Some would even wonder how anything without one of these ingredients could be qualified as a movie. Rajat Kapoor’s Ankhon Dekhi may not fit into definition of movies for most of the Indians but sure is one of the best movies produced this year.
Ankhon Dekhi, set in old Delhi (an authentic version of it) is the story of Bauji ( Sanjay Mishra) and his family. This is the part of India, where ‘ghar ke bujurg’ take all the decisions. This is a family where Bauji his wife and children live with his brother Rishi (Rajat Kapoor) and his wife and son.
One day Bauji gets an epiphany and decides to believe only in what he can see for himself refusing to go with accepted truth. Here becomes the quest for truth and we are audience is presented with numerous comic setups. One where Bauji, eats Prahsad and says “Kalakand tha, acha tha, swadisht tha”, and later, when the annoyed priest asks him if he will accept the presence of God only if He makes an appearance, Bauji says that that would be ideal. Imagine what it would be like, he says, “Yahan baithke chai pee rahe hain, Shiv ji ke saath.” In another encounter with the school teacher Bauji disputes how come Parallel lines could be called Parallel if they meet at infinity. Bauji, a travel agent by profession, finds it difficult to sale tickets to places like Amsterdam which he has not seen, or by far is refuses to guarantee the time the flight takes to reach there and quits his job from the place he thinks telling lies is part and parcel of his job.
All along the movie, Bauji, in his whimsical ways tries to establish a fundamental concept of “Truth is not same for everybody. One person’s truth may not be the truth for the other person”. In his pursuit for truth, Bauji gathers a bunch of motley disciples, who first make fun of him and joke about his theories but then follow his every word. They are with Bauji all the time accepting him as their Guru and following is every word. Quite ironical is the fact that Bauji preaching about believing only in things that can be validated and his followers are blindly flocking him.
Bauji serves us with a lot of eccentricities. In one scene, we see him on the roads, holding up a sign that advises people to open their eyes and trust only what they can see – and yet, this doesn’t build into anything. It just is. Bauji then takes a vow of silence, then start gambling, the decision to do away with borders on Rita’s (his daughter) wedding invitations and all this things are just there. I did not know what to take out of it. It should be heading somewhere and would not have been included simply to humor viewers.
The striking feature of the movie is its ensemble cast at the heart of which is spectacular Sanjay Mishra. We have his drama queen wife Seema Pahwa and his brother a Rajat Kapoor among others. All of them deliver natural performances. Background music and songs are like you are hearing them in the serene winter mist. It sets up the mood of the scenes.
With ‘Ankhon Dekhi’ saying a lot of things but never becomes preachy anywhere. It establishes the message it wants to convey in a modest and a practical narrative. After all, we don’t have to go across the world to experience things and learn from them, everything could be found around us. One just needs an eye to look for it and assimilate.