Many of you might have seen this film and know about the magic it had. But for the rest of you, let me take you to a ride like never before. This film was one of the most touching and emotional films made in the history of the Indian cinema. The simplicity, the feelings, the dialogues of this film really made it a memorable experience. Every character of the film right from the lead character to a very small character – everyone had a chance to make a strong impact on the film. For example Johnny Walker played a character named Issabhai Suratwala. His character hardly lasted few minutes but he added a lot of merit to the film. It was a wonderfully written film with excellent execution by the maestro Hrishikesh Mukherjee. To deliver such a perfect story, Mukherjee had a team of 5 writers working on it including him and Gulzar along with others.
The film talked about the passion of life. It delivered a very poignant message. People often keep thinking of how many moments are left in their life before they die. Anand told people to think of how much life is there in those moments which they live. Do they really understand the worth of life and live it worthily? Or the fear of death makes their spirit succumb long before they actually die? The story of the film is presented as a narration of a doctor’s diary. Dr. Bhaskar Banerjee, an accomplished doctor, recalls his early career days when he came across a patient who later on went on to become his best friend and changed his life, as well as lives of others around him. The name of that guy was Anand. Anand Sehgal comes to Mumbai to meet his friend Dr. Kulkarni. But before he arrives, Kulkarni had Anand’s medical reports in his hands which clearly mentioned Anand having a cancer (lymphosarcoma of the intestine) in final stage. He discusses the case with his fellow doctor and a friend Dr. Bhaskar Banerjee. Banerjee is a quiet young man, an introvert and doesn’t open up emotionally to people easily.
Anand comes there and meets both the doctors and behaves normally as if nothing is wrong in life and everything is going wonderfully. Banerjee gets furious at his jokes and his attitude and tells him to stop goofing around and get serious about his condition. He tells him that he has a terminal cancer. Anand replies to him in a very simple and naïve manner that he knows that he is having a huge tumor in his stomach and will not let him live for long but that doesn’t mean that he stops living from now itself. His reply leaves Banerjee speechless.
Anand refuses to get admitted in a hospital as a patient and prefers to live in Kulkarni’s house as a friend. Soon, Anand changes the whole environment around with his happy-go-lucky attitude. He starts making people smile and spreads happiness wherever he goes. He considers Suman, Dr. Kulkarni’s wife, as his sister as she didn’t have a brother. Their relationship is also described very vividly and is very touching. He becomes Bhaskar’s best pal and realizes that Bhaskar had a crush on one of his patients Renu, but he was too shy to express his emotions. Anand goes to Renu’s house, meets her mother as Bhaskar’s brother and proposes the idea of marriage of her daughter and Dr. Bhaskar Banerjee. The mother likes the idea and agrees to the proposal and thus Anand completes the task in minutes which would have taken Bhaskar ages to do so. There are several such incidents in the story which describe Anand showing people how much they are lacking to life and missing things by making their life complex. He delivers a message that simplicity will bring lots of new colors in your life and will add more memorable moments to your life.
Anand used to call Bhaskar as ‘Babu Moshai’ (a Bengali designation as Mister) as Bhaskar was a Bengali. He also had a very innocent habit of stopping any stranger and starting a conversation with them calling them as ‘Murarilal, one of his lost friends’ – a completely made up story. Every such stopped stranger used to end the conversation saying that he wasn’t Murarilal. But one day he encounters a guy whom he stops in a similar fashion and starts talking with him as if he is his old friend Murarilal. The stranger also reciprocates back in conversation as if he is his friend Murarilal. But when Bhaskar enters the conversation, Anand comes to know that the stranger is not Murarilal but he too was an open hearted stranger named Issabhai Suratwala who loved such pranks and enjoyed life similarly like Anand. Suratwala says that he operates a theater nearby and invites Anand if he is interested in seeing it.
Anand visits Issabhai’s theater and there he hears a poem on the philosophy of life, which later on becomes his favorite poem. He insists Bhaskar to record their voice on a tape recorder and both of them recite a poem. Bhaskar recites a poem called, ‘Maut tu ek kavita hai’ (trans: Death you’re a poetry. A poem originally written by Gulzar) and Anand recites the poem from Issabhai’s drama. Later, when Anand is on death bed and Bhaskar has gone to bring medicines for him, Anand requests to put on that recording and hears it during the last moments of his life.
Anand’s character is shown to be living in present. He is shown with no baggage of his past. No relatives, no family. He just describes his past life in brief to Suman, his sister and Dr. Kulkarni’s wife as he was very close to her.
Anand dies leaving everyone in tears and devastated. But the aura he leaves behind leave the audience moved as if they were under a spell. There were just 4 songs in the film but there couldn’t have been a better music to this film. All four songs were beyond excellence. The music was composed by Shalil Chowdry and songs were written by Gulzar and Yogesh.
Anand was played by the then superstar Rajesh Khanna and Dr. Bhaskar Banerjee was played by Amitabh Bachchan, a relatively new actor industry back then. Other cast included Johnny Walker, as I mentioned, Lalita Pawar as the Matron D’souza, Sumita Sanyal as Renu, Ramesh Deo as Dr. Kulkarni & Seema Deo as Mrs. Kulkarni.
The cast was perfect and couldn’t have been better. The original cast was supposed to be Mehmood as Anand and Kishore Kumar as Bhaskar but things didn’t work out that way and the cast was changed. There are some talks also that Anand’s character was based on the legendary showman Raj Kapoor as RK used to call Hrishikesh Mukherjee, ‘Babu Moshai’ in real life and also that RK had a similar happy-go-lucky and devil-may-care attitude in his life.
All in all, Anand was a true masterpiece and was duly honored by the Indian film fraternity with 6 Filmfare Awards in different categories like best movie, best actor, best supporting actor, best story, best dialogues, & best editing. One hardly gets to see such lively cinema in any part of the world. Hrishikesh Mukherjee became immortal with this film. It is without a doubt one of my all time favorites.