Aankhon Dekhi is a call to extreme spiritual and intellectual freedom instead of an economic and political one. It’s a celebration of freedom in life, families and brotherhood in an apparent dysfunction society…..
At first, Aankhon Dekhi’s treatment will remind you of Mrinal Sen’s 1982 classic Kharij. Directed by Rajat Kapoor, the film features powerful theatre actors like Sanjay Mishra, Namit Das, Seema Pahwa, Maya Sarao and Rajat Kapoor himself.
The movie opens with the entire family scolding Bauji’s daughter Rita (Maya Sarao) for being seen out and about with a boy who is supposedly spending time with all the girls. In a stereotypical Indian fashion, the girl is at fault and is forbidden from seeing the boy, Ajju (Namit Das), again. In overly protective and not un-stereotypical fashion, the males of the family (and some friends) head over to the boy’s house to give him a thrashing for possibly violating Rita’s chastity. However, before things get too violent (the brief assault is hardly dramatic), Bauji (Sanjay Mishra) steps in to stop the assault and comfort the boy. After seeing that Ajju never shouted and didn’t defend himself physically, he didn’t believe the boy was capable of the rumors attributed to him, so Bauji could no longer trust things he had not learned first-hand. This leads Bauji on a journey of discovery where he decides to only believe anything that he has experienced first hand with his own senses.
Whether this is considered a mid-life crisis or not, Bauji’s decision has its own impact on the family, creating rifts between him and his brother Rishi(Rajat Kapoor) and also with his wife Pushpa (Seema Pahwa) most egregiously. This damascene moment starts to get him into trouble in all different areas of his life. He leaves his job as he no longer wants to lie to his customers about the distance, the time taken, the weather out there and the flight tickets that he is supposed to be selling them; his wife is upset with him as he no longer prays in the mornings; and he stops reading newspapers as he no longer cares about the unverified information that they contain. After the initial negative response from his friends and family, he acquires a following of disciples who want to learn from his spiritual epiphany, and eventually gives up language itself so that he can “get closer to the essence.”
Sanjay Mishra as the lead, in the character of Bauji delivers a performance which could easily be termed as his best till date. This underrated actor has proved yet again that he could deliver such off-beat performances, provided you offer him with a role like this. But the most surprising performance comes from Pushpa, played by Seema Pahwa. Having spend 3 years in Delhi, I have seen such characters like Pushpa. She simply steals the show. What makes the character even more difficult to portray on screen is its hidden essence of being an India housewife, who has no ability to provide for the family on her own and relies on Bauji to bring in the money (the gender inequality in the film feels very true to life). Right from her body language to dialogue delivery, everything seemed like a typical “Dilli ki aunty.”
Aankhon Dekhi excels at depicting a typical middle-class Indian joint-family home life; it is an overt celebration of families and brotherhood with plenty of moments of poignancy in amidst the apparent dysfunction.
Having stayed in one of such “Mohallas,” for me, it was like a journey back in time and reliving those nostalgia of “Dilli Ke Mohalle.”
RATINGS: * * * * (& half) /5