Main Azaad Hoon is the most underrated movie of the star of the millennium (!) Amitabh Bachchan who is definitely the living legend of Indian cinema. It got released in 1989 and flopped on the box office. But the notable thing is that it was ignored by both the viewers and the critics alike. In fact, the movie deserved a better treatment because it is quite different from the masala movies of Amitabh Bachchan and one of his better works.An adaptation of a very old Hollywood movie – Meet John Doe (1941), Main Aazaad Hoon (I am free) is a movie of a person whose actual name has not been told in the movie. He is nicknamed as Aazaad by an ambitious journalist of a newspaper run by even more ambitious mediaman. A false story is published in the newspaper that the person named Azaad will suicide on the next Republic Day of India (26 January) as a protest of the corrupt system prevalent in India. The purpose of this false story is to boost the declining sale of the newspaper. The sale, in fact, gets boosted up but now the readers want to meet the person named Aazaad. The lady journalist, in a very smart move, catches a layman to play the role of Aazaad for money and assures him that he would not have to commit suicide on the given day as he will be released and allowed to flee away anywhere before that. The person who is none other than our Big B, is ready to do it but while performing the role, he comes to realize the pains and problems of the common man coupled with realities of the rotten system. Becoming sympathetic to the people’s plight and feeling from within to give a meaning to his otherwise meaningless life, he actually commits suicide on the already declared date. His sacrifice awakens the sleepy and dormant masses and they are made to realize that each one of them is, in fact, an Azaad in himself.Quite astonishingly, this movie has been made and directed by Tinu Anand, the masala moviemaker. It is sans any romantic lead pair and consequentially any romance with songs and dances, any traditional baddies and consequentially any relevant scenes of fight, chase, shootout, explosion or other type of action or thrill for which Amitabh Bachchan was known for about two decades of his career (the so called angry young man tag was attached to him for such kind of roles only). This movie is totally different, realistic, sensitive, thought-provoking and to a large extent, logically made. To my knowledge, Amitabh Bachchan has never acted in any other movie of this category. It is a hard-hitting statement on the corrupt and manipulative system which was and still is prevalent in India.Despite being a realistic, non-formulaic movie, it is engrossing and able to focus the viewer’s attention on the screen throughout. Amitabh Bachchan has acted in Ram Gopal Varma’s Rann (2010) in which the corruption rampant in the media has been exposed. The same thing is here also but when this movie had been made, electronic media was not prominent in India. Hence it has exposed print media which was (and still is) no less corrupt than the electronic media working for vested interests and own commercial growth only. Journalists are toeing the lines of newspaper owners only because they too are joining the media for glittering careers and not for any ideals. The complete portrayal of the reality within the media house is utterly realistic. Powerful mediamen foster political ambitions, is a fact highlighted through the character of Manohar Singh, the newspaper owner.Amitabh Bachchan has got national award for best actor twice – first for Agneepath and second for Black. In my view, his performance in Main Aazaad Hoon is far better than both those performances and he should have won the national award for this movie instead. He has entered the skin of the protagonist completely and given a gem of a performance. Shabana Aazmi as the journalist, is natural, as usual. One of the big names of Indian theatre – (Late) Manohar Singh has played the role of the owner of the newspaper house with highest degree of efficiency. Other performers like Annu Kapoor, Sudhir Pandey, Raja Bundela, Ajeet Vachchhani etc. are also up to the mark.The script as well as the direction are superb except dragging at some places which could have been avoided. The climax is hard-hitting and unforgettable. All the technical departments of the movie are all right. Music has been given in the movie by Amar-Utpal and this offbeat movie contains only one song – KITNE BAAJOO KITNE SAR- written by Shabana Aazmi’s father, the legendary Shaayar Kaifi Aazmi and sung by none other than Amitabh Bachchan himself.It happens sometimes that useless or weak movies catch undue attention(and box office success too) whereas excellent movies pass by unnoticed. Main Aazaad Hoon belongs to the second category. Even AB’s fans are not aware of this movie. It is movie which should be watched by not only the admirers of Amitabh Bachchan but also the people fond of watching sensible, thoughtful and useful cinema.
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