Ankhon Dekhi : Find your own truth.
Director- Rajat Kapoor.
Starring- Sanjay Mishra, Seema Phawa, Rajat Kapoor.
“Film as dream, film as music. No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of our soul”. – Ingmar Bergman.
If you agree with Bergman, Ankhon Dekhi is made for you.
Rajat Kapoor has always fascinated me, in Phas Gaya Re Obama and Bheja Fry with his acting and in Raghu Romeo and Mithya with his direction. Ankhon Dekhi is his magnum opus and he has proved his brilliance again. It has all the ingredients of a good film but most of all you will connect to it and think about it when it is over.
What is truth? Is it stating the facts as it is? Is it love or hatred or living with mutual understanding? Is this laptop a truth? Is this website a truth? Is this chair a truth? Is this really a chair? Or am I calling it a chair just because people call it a chair? Ankho Dekhi will not answer these questions but will make you think upon it and if you think upon it, Rajat Kapoor’s work is done.
Gandhi did his experiments with truth during independence. Ankhon Dekhi is a modern Indian middle class man’s experiments with truth. The premise of the film is very simple. A man decides he will not believe in anything he has not experienced. That man is Radhe Bauji. He is the joint family’s elder brother and works at a travel agency. He is having a simple human existence until he starts listening to his inner self and a question arises. What is truth? He doesn’t have an answer. He doesn’t know where he is right now and where he wants to go. There is no path that he knows so he will make his own path as he goes along. The walk towards that path starts when Bauji decides Mera sach, mere anubhav ka sach hoga. (My truth would be the truth of my experiences).
The question arises from a very normal incident. Bauji’s daughter (Rita) is in love with an alleged womanizer (Ajju). When the family members come to know about it they lock up Rita and go to beat Ajju. Bauji also goes with them and when he reaches there he finds Ajju exactly opposite of what people said about him. He gets his moment of realization and starts his journey to find his own experienced truth. He tries to explain to his family members that biases and misconceptions are so deeply entrenched in us and to remove them one needs to start questioning them. The best way to question is to disbelieve in things until they are experienced.
Bauji starts questioning the existence of god. He won’t believe in god until one of them comes and has tea with him. He pokes at the education system in an informal debate with a Maths teacher on how one could assume that parallel lines meet at infinity. The conversation is fun and shows the basic problem with our present education system that students have stopped questioning. Once the questioning stops, understanding also stops.
The cost of finding the truth is high. Buddha left his wife, children and all other worldly affairs to find the truth. Many philosophers became mad in finding truth. Bauji also starts facing similar problems in his journey. His friends start treating him as a fool and keeps on mocking him. They blame mid life crisis and ‘male menopause’ for his absurd behavior. He leaves his job, his joint family breaks apart but he is determined to find his truth.
We believe blindly in whatever is said to us and this believing to someone else’s opinion moulds our experience. This is experience is not first hand and also not truly ours. Bauji rejects the idea of believing in anything what others tell him. He goes to a zoo to confirm that tigers roar. He declares that newspapers are untrustworthy as he has not seen the incident with his own eyes. He starts playing cards. It is immoral, wrong and corrupt from the society’s point of view, but for Bauji, it is pure mathematics. He starts playing games out of sheer joy. He went for the experience despite his family being against it. He never endorsed the game to anyone but played to find out his own truth. If others say playing cards is bad, he wants to find out why. Bauji’s strength is that he is open to all experience. He is not judging his experience. There is no right or wrong. He has become free from what is moral and immoral.
When everyone is running, Bauji stops. When everyone is getting old, Bauji becomes a child who has a lot of questions.
The characters of the film are real, the people we meet daily. I have not seen such an honest portrayal of joint family in Hindi cinema. The story of the joint family, its pleasures, problems and uniqueness provides the emotional spine to the film. The core of the film is philosophical and poetic and the execution is real and every day conversational. Those who are obsessed with a happy ending may find the ending disappointing and disturbing.
Varun Grover and Sagar Desai have done an amazing job. The songs are beautiful especially Aaj Lagi Nai Dhoop. The dialogues are witty and deep. The film has no unnecessary dance sequence and cheap dialogues. Sanjay Mishra is one the best actors we have right now. His acting is effortless and his dialogue delivery and facial expression remains the highlight of the film. The other actors also did great with their characters and as a whole cast they are brilliant.
Ankhon dekhi is more than a film, it is a thought process.
It is very sad that a film like Aankhon Dekhi didn’t get enough shows and even the theatres where it got shows, it was unable to get the attention of the audience. The film got good reviews but it was a flop in terms of the market. Films like this have tough time in getting producers because they think these films will not work and we as an audience are proving them right.
P. S- What I am writing here is my truth. Don’t believe it. Go watch the film and find yours.