Anand—A Film Which Underlines the Purpose of Human Life As Taking Happiness to Others

Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna's film Anand celebrates 50 years since its release

Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan - a still from film Anand

Fulfilment of human life is in utiizing many small and big  opportunities in daily life to take happiness to others. The supreme fulfilment is in ability to achieve this even when faced with great personal distress.

This is the most noble message which the famous Hindi film Anand took to millions of film-viewers in 1971. In the 50 years since then, the admiration for this iconic film and its   essential message have only grown. This film has been included in several listings of ‘must see’ and greatest Hindi films.

This message is conveyed in the film in the form of the eventful, inspiring story of the last few months of a terminally ill patient Anand Sehgal, played to near perfection by Rajesh Khanna, who firmly believes in this principle but carries it  lightly, with much fun. Although suffering from cancer, he believes in enjoying and spreading the joys of life, using his natural talents for fun and humour. In the process this film with a very noble message is  full of light moments and laughter, although the underlying tragedy of a beautiful human life tragically drifting towards end at a young age always lurks in the shadows. A film with several smiles and one big tear, as Chaplin would have said.

This film has almost all the qualities of great cinema—great direction and editing by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, very good story and dialogue ( by Hrishikesh and Gulzar) as well as outstanding performances by actors. The lyrics written by Yogesh and Gulzar  were composed beautifully by the one and only Salil Chowdhury to create some great songs, sung very soulfully by Mukesh and Manna Dey—philosophical songs like Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli, Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaaye and Maine Tere Liye Hi Saat Rang Ke Sapne, still hummed by so many people in the thoughtful moments of their life.

Rajesh Khanna – film Anand

This film is an acting triumph for Rajesh Khanna ( already a super-star) and Amitabh Bachan ( at that time still a struggling actor). During the same year 1971 at least seven big hits of Rajesh Khanna were released, including Haathi Mere Saathi, Dushman, Maryada and Kati Patang. Despite being such a busy star at that time, Rajesh Khanna has given a very special and soulful performance in this film. Although several other reputed actors were also considered for this role, one ends up with the feeling after watching this film that no one could have done this role better than Rajesh Khanna. In the middle of all his other and even bigger commercial hits, it is a major achievement that Rajesh Khanna could really give his best to this film. A part of the credit for this also goes to Hrishikesh, who completed shooting for this great film in just 28 days. This shows how well he had prepared. This helped even an extremely busy star to perform with a lot of involvement and continuity in a role which needed this, something which would not have been possible if the shooting had dragged on for a long time with many distractions.  

This film retains a very important place in the life and career of Amitabh, as this is the first film which endeared him to the Indian film audience in the memorable role ( Bhaskar Banerjee , or Babu Moshai)  of an idealist doctor, made angry by the injustices and crass commercialism around him, badly needing the soothing touch of tenderness which his friend of a few months Anand brings into his life.

Even  some of the smaller roles, like Lalita Pawar as nurse and Seema Deo as a sisterly presence, leave a lasting impression. And what a truly memorable role has been created for the inimitable Johnny Walker as Isa Bhai, and only he could have done full justice to this role. 

A still from film Anand

The gimmick of Anand greeting any stranger as a friend he is meeting after a long time has been used in a way which is as beautiful as it is funny,  culminating in a chance encounter with Isa Bhai, when Anand finally meets his equal in drama.

This film won several awards including the National Award for the best Hindi film and the Filmfare Award for the best film. All in all, this is truly one of the greatest Hindi films. It is also an important milestone in the eventful journey of several celbrated film personalities of India.

Bharat Dogra has been involved with several social  movements.