The essence of life: unadulterated joy
Like playing with a pleasing child's toy
And when you get in trouble
When life bursts the bubble
Just go with the flow, shouting "Ahoy!"
While I can't say that's what the Bollywood movie "Anand" says, because it says a lot more, "the joy of living" is at the heart of the movie, as epitomised by it's lead character, a terminally-ill simple guy named Anand. The narrator is the doctor who's in charge of him, Bhaskar Banerjee, who's a shy, sober person.
But it's not your usual terminally-ill movie. Anand has spunk, wit and a stunningly positive attitude about himself. The movie is about living every moment of life, and having fun, but the message isn't drilled into viewers' minds. This isn't a message movie; it's about Anand and Bhaskar, their friendship, worries and Anand's condition. And humour comes at the right moments. The movie cannot be said to be manipulative by any strech of the imagination, except for crafting such an impossibly likable lead. But the character is reportedly based on the director's friend and actor Raj Kapoor.
Director Hrishikesh Mukherjee, who died in 2006, has crafted many light-at-heart but meaningful movies over the years, which can be considered some of the finest Bollywood has ever produced. "Anand" is his best creation, and it ushered in the golden age of Bollywood (the 1970's), and the age of Amitabh Bachchan. Bachchan potrays Bhaskar as an introvert who cares for Anand and is afraid of losing him, although he plays second fiddle to Rajesh Khanna's masterful potrayal of Anand. Khanna brings to Anand an energy and sympathy that make this his best work ever. This is a character movie, and the leads do brilliant jobs.
In Hrishikesh Mukherjee tradition, we have a whole cast of secondary characters, who are given life by perfect casting. No character can be said to be a caricature, which says quite a lot for a hindi movie (Yeah, if you don't speak hindi, do endure subtitles for this one ;) ).
A word about the score and songs: fantastic, and perfectly suited to the movie. Fresh but melancholy, inspiring and lonely.
As usual, my "review" is laden with superlatives. But such a simple, fresh and un-manipulative movie is so rare that I will forgive it's flaws, if there are any.
The direction is perfect, the story is perfect, the casting and acting is perfect. It's the best Bollywood movie I've seen. Go rent it, if you haven't seen it. If you have, you will, no doubt, not mind watching it again.