ANKHON DEKHI: The Fantasy of Living in Reality - Film Review
One good thing about living in the U.S. for cinephiles like me is the privilege to watch films from all over the world. I take the fullest advantage of exploring world cinema , some of which I could have never dreamt of watching without the help of online streaming websites like Netflix and others. A couple of months back, Ankhon Dekhi popped up on Netflix in the recently added category. The one-liner provided for the film failed to impress me as it seemed pseudo-intellectual (and I should slap myself for that).
Fast forward 2 months and Ankhon Dekhi had bagged all the critics’ choice awards and also the award for best story at the Filmfare 2015. Immediately, it got my paramount attention. I was heedless of any lineage of Rajat Kapoor as a director. So, I started to watch the film without any prior sense of expectation regarding narrative or style. The film is based on the life of an everyday man still living in a world which is less India and more “Bharatvarsh”. The film also is the story of a typical Indian joint family where the brothers and their families can have different bedrooms but share a common kitchen and toilet. Also, where the youngsters of the family don’t understand the meaning of being cousins, all of them are just siblings.
The film introduces Bauji (Sanjay Mishra), the protagonist, as one who often dreams about flying. After an epiphanic moment in his life, Bauji decides to believe only in what he sees instead of blindly trusting the accepted truths. He had to leave his job of a travel agent as he refuses to advertise for places he has not visited. On another instance he engages himself in a heated argument with his nephew’s maths teacher about the eternal delusion concerning two parallel lines meeting at infinity. Bauji argues if the lines meet somewhere; even if it is infinity how they can be parallel lines. Thus, he challenges our notions of infinity and in the process of doing so, may be questions God, another sense of infinity for common man. He stops his daily “Puja” (worship) to much disgust of his wife (Seema Pahwa) who tries to hold together her family and their chaotic lives even if it is on the brink by the recent changes in Bauji's persona. His younger brother (Rajat Kapoor) leaves the house with his family feeling burdened by responsibility of running the joint family alone. Bauji, although heart broken, denies to change his stand and continues to evaluate everything through his own experiences. Challenges come like continuous flow of tide as Bauji escalates his “Anubhaw” i.e. realization by experiences sometimes by taking a vow of silence or at other times involving himself in gambling. Even with this ongoing chaos around him, he manages to organize his daughter's marriage. During and after the marriage due to some incidents and some decision taken by him, the chaos minimizes a little. In the climax of the film he decides to challenge himself by deciding that he'd like to feel his most cherished dream, that is to fly.
As Eisenstein said, a film whether commercial or art, should have a basic trait. It should continuously arouse the viewer’s consciousness. It doesn't matter how slowly the plot moves or if it doesn’t move at all. This film does that with utmost sincerity. The energetic, personal and ultra realistic acting of the ensemble cast makes every scene a very enjoyable watch. A special mention in this regard for Seema Pahwa and Sanjay Mishra. The director creates a highly philosophical undertone which never bogs down the film rather enhances it. The style and handling of the film is very global yet the look and feel is very local, this makes a masterpiece of modern Indian cinema. It is a piece of art that dares to live a fantasy in reality.
Photo courtesy: Koimoi.com , Mithya Talkies, PVR Cinemas