The bitter experiences of my life have shaken my faith in ethics, goodness and the sublime values of life. However the movies like Anuraag (1972) is one such phenomena which reassures me that these noble things have not vanished altogether and one should not allow his faith in them to be evaporated.
The decade of seventies when medicine had not made much progress in our country and the persons who happened to have caught some lethal decease, were seldom able to survive; Bollywood presented many movies whose protagonist was a Zinda-Dil person with an ever-present smile on lips and possessing a jolly nature with a never-say-die spirit but suffering from a lethal decease. Such protagonist, but natural, had to die in the end, leaving all his loving ones as grief-stricken behind him. Anand (1970), Mili (1975) and Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se (1978) were certain movies in this genre. Anuraag also falls into that category only. The difference is that this movie presents a child suffering from cancer who donates his eyes to a blind girl so that she could see the world through his eyes after his demise.
This kind-hearted and nice child of Anuraag (love) is Chandan (Satyajeet) who is the grandson of Rai Saheb (Ashok Kumar) who has already lost his son and now invested all his love in his little grandson Chandan. He lives with his widow daughter-in-law (Nutan) and sees the shadow of his lost son in Chandan only, teaching him all the virtues and noble values of life. Chandan happens to come across a blind girl Shivani (Moushumi Chatterjee) who lives in a charitable home meant for girls like her only. She is a good sculptor and through Chandan, she comes into contact with Chandan’s mother and grandfather on one hand and a nice boy Rajesh (Vinod Mehra) on the other. Rajesh falls in love with her and decides to make her his life partner. However his father Amirchand (Madan Puri) gets ready for their marriage only when Shivani gets her sight back. It is known after her relevant medical examination that it’s possible only when some donor gives his / her eyes for transplantation in her body. Suddenly Chandan is found to be suffering from cancer which has gone beyond the stage of treatment. Having come to know this truth, Chandan decides to donate his eyes to his loving Didi, i.e., Shivani and finally Shivani is able to see this world through Chandan’s eyes.
Now with a nationwide eye-donation campaign being run, the subject of this movie becomes all the more relevant. A celebrity like Aishwarya Rai whose beauty is said to lie mainly in her eyes only, has already announced to donate her eyes after her death. This movie had highlighted the nobleness of this act as early as four decades back.
The movie gets emotional and turns into a tear-jerker in its final half an hour only. Prior to that, it’s mainly a feelgood movie which producer-director Shakti Saamanta has made in the style of the prestigious Rajshri Banner of Bollywood. Certain (both tragic and comic) sequences of this movie remind us of Rajshri’s blockbuster movie – Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994). The story is flat and told as such only. We see good people with their good thoughts and gestures only. Except for the caricaturesque character of Raajesh’s father who is a miser but ready to spend money for the sake of fame and honour, all the characters shown are completely positive and virtuous. Prior to the tragic twist in the story, the narrative consists of comic situations and dialogs which may not be able to provoke laughter in the viewer but certainly bring a smile to his / her lips.
The incident of Chandan’s trying to understand how it feels to be blind reminds me of a story ‘The School for Sympathy’ read by me in my English textbook when I was in my secondaries. His deliberately not solving all the questions in the examination so that another boy who is needy of scholarship, is able to get the first rank, also reminds me of a similar story read by me in my Hindi textbook during my primaries. Through these episodes, the filmmaker has highlighted the virtues embedded in the character of this child which touches as well as inspires the audience.
Anuraag is a simple movie, not lavish. It is technically good all the same and every frame of it is beautiful. It is a compact movie which only was the right thing to do for the filmmaker considering its wafer-thin storyline.
Sachin Dev Burman has composed good music for the movie with the help of the beautiful lyrics of Anand Bakshi. Devoid of any chartbusters, this album contains ear-soothing and soul-soothing songs like Sun Ri Pawan, Woh Kya Hai, Neend Churaaye Chain Churaaye, Raam Kare Babua Hamaar Phulwa Ko and a very good lullaby – Mera Raaja Beta Boojhe Ek Paheli.
Child artist Satyajeet has performed very well in the pivotal role whereas Bengali actress Moushumi Chatterjee has also done satisfactorily in this debut Hindi movie of herself. Seasoned actors Ashok Kumar, Nutan, Madan Puri, Anita Guha, Abhi Bhattachaarya, Satyen Kappu etc. all have done their parts satisfactorily alongwith the romantic hero Vinod Mehra. Shakti Saamanta’s favourite actor Rajesh Khanna has delivered a touching performance in his special appearance in the role of flower-seller Gangaraam.
Anuraag won the Filmfare Award for the best movie which is surprising as this movie is a very simple movie and was not a blockbuster as well. All the same, it’s to be admitted that such movies emphatically underscore that goodness does exist even today which is to be preserved and nurtured. The good and virtuous people as shown in the movie may be difficult to find in today’s selfish times but their race has not gone extinct. The dumbfound (with grief) character of Ashok Kumar rightly asserts that God forces the strictest of tests of life on such people only. And it’s their greatness that even then they do not give up their goodness and noble values of life adopted by them.
I recommend this lovely and inspiring movie to one and all.