Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Achanak - 1973 movie by Gulzar Saab

I remember, 'Achanak' came around the same time as Bobby . Though Bobby was a run away success, 'Achanak' held its fort in Gemini - a little theater compared to its neighbor Galaxy in Bandra. It perhaps could be due to spill over of Bobby house full signs. But equally true was the fact that many grown ups did take fancy for 'Achanak'. Watching it in later years ( It was A movie) was a thrill of adulthood.

For me, this movie was a sleek, swift and bold movie packaged in small yet elegant manner. It was in many ways a breaking mold of 70's that would have 'hero' as embodiment of virtues, theme that promoted ethical values and entertainment meant having songs that people would rhyme as they come out of theater . I think, Gulzar showed courage in picking up a bold story and presenting in a manner devoid of songs and emotional tears. There are many such movies in Hollywood but for Hindi movie industry , perhaps it was one of such initial attempts that differentiated from experimental cinema yet jostled for a commercial space with mainstream cinema.

I think the character of Major Ranjeet Khanna (Vinod Khanna) was portrayed vividly, a person torn between love and betrayal. His army demeanor precluded him to accept defeat and betrayal of trust. The climax of run away sequence was riveting despite lack of resources and technology available then. 'It was a great movie if looked from the binoculars of 70 . From 21st century microscope and comparing it with Gulzar Saab's other artistic creations , it may get short of expectations of his die herd fans.

I guess, naming this movie was that 'sudden moment' when Major's foundation of emotional cocoon gets demolished. If I remember correctly this scene was shot either at a lake side or a pool. From that 'moment' onwards, story takes a vicious and violent turn.

p.s. The above reaction from me, in favor of this movie ,came after seeing the post of Nishant on Gulzar forum. He felt that movie was a big letdown in terms of its story, dialog, and its characterization. The movie had no songs and this made even more dry and dragged. He also wondered the rational of name 'Achanak '. According to him,the plot meandered from a gripping drama to a movie trying to find a deliberate ending and a lot of talent of Vinod Khanna, Om Shivpuri, Farida Jalal, Asrani, was put to very little use .



Blogger Subba said...

Achanak was the 2nd songless movie after Kanoon (Ashok Kumar, Rajendra Kumar) of the 1960s. Both presented great paradoxes. Kanoon presented a legal paradox. Maybe it is just coincidence, but the Indian Evidence Act was amended after the movie.

Achanak presents a deeper existential paradox. Om Shivpuri summarizes it in one sentence: "Did I save his life (Vinod Khanna's life) just so that he can be hanged?"

There is a deeper paradox between living and killing which remains the undercurrent of the movie.

I used the movie in 2001 to explain the dichotomy between personal and professional integrity and between integrilty and situational integrity.

It is a great movie for the thinking audience.

10:16 PM  
Anonymous Nishant said...


Maybe you are right. If I watched the movie from the binoculars of 70s, then I would have really appreciated it. This was not the first time though that a movie had no songs in it. The story did deal with the fact that everybody is human and everybody has to carry out their responsibilities, come what may.

When I watched Koshish, I was always wondering what would happen next. The sarcasm and satire in Mere Apne was so burning that one could identify with the youth of that era even without the 'binoculars' of 70s. When it comes to direction, Gulzarsaab had a 'Koshish' before the 'Black' of today. He had a 'Kitaab' before the 'Taare Zameen Par' of today. I somehow find Achanak hard to scale when I start recounting some taut script and plots like Lekin, Ijaazat, Maachis. Achanak's story was not Gulzarsaab's. It was by Khwaja Ahmed Abbas. Maybe that made some difference. Carrying somebody else's work to camera isn't an easy job. It is hard to recreate the same characters and the same intensity in the plot as the original author had in mind. Which is maybe why the movies that I mentioned above always left a viewer on the edge of their seats.

Mainly my expectations were built on a very strong foundation of Gulzarsaab and the title Achanak. I was expecting a little too much out of a well told simple story. That is why I called it a 'letdown'.


11:12 AM  
Anonymous ajay through Gulzar Forum said...

I watched Achanak yesterday night only and enjoyed every bit of it. Its layered like all the gulzar saab movies and to me it was more like human emotions weaved around a thriller. Yup, its technically not the best but still I have always been amused of directors of 70 who without much camera movement and with the help of simple shots were able to create such intense movies!!

Yes, the story is by K.A. Abbas but then in all other films of Gulzar saab's. Stories of most of his films were from Bengali literature (Somerash basu mainly). Hence I don't find much logic in that statement.

It still has a lot of Gulzar saab style shots ,dialogues and direction style!! Of course his other films are definitly better than Achanak but it stands on its own !

6:22 PM  

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