Right here a glance again at Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s magnum opus Anand, which lately clocked 50 years

Gurnaaz Kaur

On March 12, 1971, director Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s film Anand was released. Last Friday, the iconic film clocked 50 years, but for cinema-lovers it is a timeless classic! The Rajesh Khanna-Amitabh Bachchan-starrer was the third-highest grossing film of that year and is hailed as one of the greatest movies ever made.

A commercial success and critically acclaimed film, it was based on the friendship between Hrishikesh Mukherjee and actor Raj Kapoor. The two were very close in real life and the story evolved from Mukherjee’s fear of losing Kapoor. Anand’s character, played by Rajesh Khanna, was inspired by Raj Kapoor, who was ill then, and Amitabh Bachchan’s character, Bhaskar Banerjee, was based on Hrishi da (as the director was fondly called) himself. Babumoshai, as Anand calls the doctor in the film, was what Kapoor would call Mukherjee!

Different take

Credited with having introduced ‘middle of the road cinema’ in India, Hrishi da deals with the subject of death in a philosophical and optimistic manner. His protagonist, Anand, who is terminally ill, is anything but sad; as he says, “Babumoshai, zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nahi (life should be big, not long).” His positive outlook towards life, despite suffering from lymphosarcoma of the intestines, rubs off on oncologist Bhaskar, who before meeting Anand is a pessimist disheartened by the misery in the world.

This story of life and death, of love and friendship; the film is among Indian cinema’s finest moments. Rajesh Khanna, who was a superstar, and Amitabh Bachchan, who had 12 flops before he landed this role, shared a chemistry that is till date replicated in many Bollywood films, one among them being Karan Johar’s Kal Ho Naa Ho. This timeless masterpiece also starred real-life couple Ramesh Deo and Seema Deo, popular Marathi actors, who played a couple in the movie as well, and added a lot of charm to it.

Dream team

In the crew was Mukherjee at the helm, Gulzar, who crafted the legendary dialogues and Salil Chowdhary, who composed the lilting melodies that we cherish till date, including Kahin door jab din deal jaaye and Zindagi kaisi hai paheli. It is not everyday such intense subjects are dealt with such simplicity. Each dialogue has power and every song creates nostalgia. Anand is forever just like its dialogue — Anand mara nahi, Anand marte nahin!

Do you know?

  • The film won six of the eight Filmfare awards for which it was nominated. While Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan won the best actor and best supporting actor, respectively, the film picked up best film, story, director and dialogue awards.
  • Hrishikesh Mukherjee initially wanted to cast Raj Kapoor as the doctor and Saumitra Chatterjee in the lead role.
  • Anand is counted among the 17 consecutive box office successes of late actor Rajesh Khanna between 1969 and 1971.
  • Anand and Namak Haraam are the only two films in which Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan starred together.
  • The movie was a landmark for Amitabh Bachchan’s career. In Shoojit Sircar’s Piku, his character was named Bhaskor Banerjee as a tribute to his character Bhaskar Banerjee in Anand.
  • Hrishikesh loved Lata Mangeshkar’s voice so much that he made sure there was a song in the film by her.

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