Anokhi Raat (1968)
Starring: Sanjeev Kumar, Zaheeda, Aruna Irani, Keshto Mukherjee, and Parikshat Sahni.
After a very long vacation (due partially to packing up and getting ready to move) I have returned with another review. With a pretty abrupt beginning, one particular aspect of this movie stands out to me. The clear, sharp quality of the film.
Baldev (Sanjeev Kumar) is carrying a stick with several bags loaded onto it (admittedly odd to western eyes, such as mine…but it looks like it gets the job done pretty well.) He arrives home, to the ire of his friend, Naubat (Mukri). When Naubat asks Baldev where he’s been, he explains he’s been fetching potatoes. But somehow, the bags got switched…and all they find in stock are piles of coals. Apparently he accidentally switched his bag with a fellow named Nandu. When he realizes his mistake, his grandmother rushes up to him hissing and screaming (okay…not really, but she is pretty mad!) Not only did he mix up the potatoes and coals, but he also gave her the wrong bag as well. When she leaves, Baldev’s uncle comes onto the scene to scold him for giving him the wrong bag which he needed to serve food to his guests…
Baldev decides to fix his mistakes and get to work…but only after hearing Naubat’s plea for him to find himself a wife, so he has someone to help him out. Baldev has the habit of helping others a bit too much, and as a result, forgetting about his own needs. When Naubat offers to find one for him, Baldev tells him that he’s already got a girl picked out…he’s just too shy to tell her.
After Naubat is thrashed by a fat woman (for calling her an ox, I can easily understand why she decided to beat the living daylights of out him) he advises Baldev to propose to the girl he loves, Gopa (Zaheeda), before someone else attracts her attention and steals her away. Baldev takes his advice…
When Baldev tells Gopa that he ‘will marry her’, the film segues into a wonderful little song number involving taxidermy maintenance and sweet, sweet broom love.
Roll intro credits. Very plain and simple, which was quite refreshing. Behind the white text is a pair of hands placing price tags on antiques. When the credits end, the scene re-opens on an old man exiting a mansion with a sign in-hand. And then a young woman stands upon the patio with a somber look. Her family has fallen upon hard times, and her family is having an estate sale. The girl’s name is Rama (Zaheeda), and her grandfather receives an offer to save his family fortune in exchange for Rama’s hand in marriage to Madan Lal (Tarun Bose.) Her grandfather angrily turns down the scoundrel’s offer.
Rama arrives on the scene, looking absolutely enchanting. This was Zaheeda’s first big film, and unfortunately one of the few. Now, here is another detail about Madan Lal that might bring home the reason he is such a jerk. He’s the man that Rama’s grandfather is in debt to, and he intends to destroy her family’s prestige if she doesn’t marry him. Rama decides to sacrifice her happiness and pride in order to save her family’s fortune, agreeing to marry Ma-Jerk Lal.
What follows is one of the most beautiful yet tragic songs I have ever heard. Rama sings of being blessed by her family before she is carried away to her new home, which is to be her heaven. Sometimes, with a truly wonderful musical number…all one needs is the right camera angles, and the right actress. There are no dances, no meeting of couples, only a sad young woman crossing to the window near a billowing curtain, and her grandfather listening to the sacrifice she is making.
Mr. Rai, and his wife Prema (Aruna Irani) arrive on the scene ready for the auction – which was…cancelled. It begins to rain, and they go inside the mansion to discuss other matters with Madan Lal. It is not long before an unexpected guest arrives; a painter (Parikshat Sahni) who was caught in the rain, and offers to sketch Rama in exchange for a meal…because he does not like having anything for free. As he spends the storm in the house with the group, certain aspects of everyone’s nature become far more apparent. Madan Lal’s greed and pride, Prema’s strength of character and kindness, and Mrs. Rai’s quiet regrets of marrying an old man for money. When the painter departs, a group of bandits arrive on the scene (oh boy…) The lead bandit is caught unaware when he catches sight of Rama…
The bandit is none other than BALDEV! He’s grown a beard, and his friend Naubat has taken to wearing gold hoop earrings. It really is no surprise, however, when he takes off the scarf covering his face…there’s no mistaking the sad and beautiful eyes of Sanjeev Kumar.
The painter returns, having forgotten his bag…and is forced to stay by the bandits. But why has Baldev become a spy? Why does Naubat have such poor fashion sense? WHY DOES RAMA LOOK LIKE GOPA!? All this and more to be revealed when you decide to watch the movie for yourself.
I loved the music, I love the acting, I loved Sanjeev Kumar (because he’s worth loving twice as much for his performance), I loved the script, I loved the look, I loved loved loved. You get the point. This movie was absolutely fantastic! I actually had to challenge myself to find flaws in it, and I couldn’t think of any. My final rating? 10/10 bindis. My first, and possibly only (at least for a long time) perfect score for a film. Put everything down right now, forget what you’re doing…just get a hold of a copy of Anokhi Raat and watch it immediately.
Entry filed under: 5 and more Bindis, Exceptionally good (8-10), Film Reviews, Hindi, Languages. Tags: and Parikshat Sahni, Aruna Irani, Asit Sen, bollywood, classic, drama, hindi, Keshto Mukherjee, sanjeev kumar, Zaheeda.