Mere Apne (1971) is a movie not only contemporary but can well be described as ahead of its time because the issues portrayed in it are relevant even today, after more than four decades. The movie can be described as outstanding, a true classic. Highly talented filmmaker Gulzar had shown his potential in his maiden work itself.
Built around the life of an aged widow, brought to the city from village by his so-called relative, only to find the selfishness and falsehood behind the relations in the urban life, this movie strongly and truthfully portrays the waywardness of India’s unemployed youths misguided and exploited by immoral politicians. The phenomena has only increased to the most disgusting heights over the passage of time in India. That’s why this four and a half decades old movie seems quite contemporary when seen today.
The director has shown his intelligence in casting also. On one hand he has taken Meenakumari who was taking her steps towards the sunset of her career in those days, as the aged widow. On the other, he has taken several young actors as the wayward unemployed youths viz. Paintal, Asrani, Danny, Dinesh Thakur etc. alongwith Vinod Khanna and Shatrughan Sinha as their ringleaders. This combination of old and youth presents an amazing chemistry on the screen. The sacrifice of Meena Kumari in the end in a shootout and then the weeping of the youngsters over her departure is able to bring tears to the eyes of every sensitive viewer.
The characters are real. The look is realistic. The subject matter is relevant. The treatment of the theme is heart-touching. The performances are admirable. Music by Salil Chaudhary is par excellence with the touching lyrics coming from the pen of Gulzar himself (the song – KOI HOTA JISKO APNA – sung by Kishore Kumar is one of the best Hindi movie songs ever made in my opinion). The movie has a lot to recommend itself. Its evaluation can be summed up in a single line – a movie with a soul.
Everybody fond of watching meaningful cinema should not miss it.
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