Sachin, Ranjeeta, Umila Bhatt, Madan Puri, Tun Tun, Mehmood Jnr.
Here is a film that brought together a host of unsung artists, men and women who had their moment under the sun but did not really experience the high noon of popularity. In some ways, they probably never quite got their due, sandwiched as their careers were with some of the greatest names ever in Hindi cinema. Yet Hiren Nag, Ravindra Jain, Sachin and Ranjeeta, yes, each one of them, tickled our senses. For a brief while they sold us a beautiful lie, telling us that happiness was no fleeting visitor but a constant companion. For a while, life was a song. And it was beautiful too, particularly the way Hemlata rendered it — nobody would have forgotten the film’s title track. It is a long, long song, but so soothing is Jain’s music and Hemlata’s rendition that it seems not a micro-second longer than needed. Add to that Sachin’s boyish charm and Ranjeeta’s self-effacing demeanour and you could not be faulted if you thought they could not put a foot wrong. Everything was right for them here. And for viewers, making Ankhiyon ke Jharonkhon Se a fine, soothing film. Not much melodrama, for a large part there is barely a ripple, yet Hiren Nag, the director, takes you along.
Nag, incidentally, directed only a dozen or so films in 20-year-long career, Jeevan Mritya, Geeta Gaata Chal and Abodh being the other notable ones. Yet, Nag’s moment of glory was undoubtedly Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se , a typical Rajshri film that encouraged the use of hankies! For some it was a tear-jerker, what with the heroine diagnosed with leukaemia, which itself was a brave thing to do for the director, considering Hindi filmmakers have never been too comfortable handling life-threatening diseases. For most, it is all about the feel-good factor. Nag took the risk and reaped the dividends.
The film probably marked the high water mark for the lead pair of Sachin and Ranjeeta too.
Both of them had other hurrahs, notably Geeta Gaata Chal and Nadiya ke Paar for Sachin and Laila-Majnu for Ranjeeta. Yet here as lovebirds they infuse their characters with such simplicity, such credibility, that one is drawn into the story of Arun and Lily who meet in college, have the customary fights and fall in love in no time at all. All is fair and fine with the world till the dreaded disease strikes, transforming what would have been a simple youthful romance into an abiding tale of true love, appealing to people across generations.
The film was part of Ravindra Jain’s tryst with destiny too. A latecomer to Bollywood, Jain had spent quite a few years with occasional crumbs of comfort until Geet Gaata Chal brought him out of anonymity.
Then came Chitchor and Ankhiyon ke… strengthening his position as the man who gave music steeped in Indian tunes, using Indian instruments, looking for inspiration in Indian traditions, big and small.
Incidentally, he gives a full expression to his thoughts here by penning a song based on the dohas of Kabir and Rahim. It is filmed as a kind of duet antakshri in a college function on the lead pair — quietly in the bargain, telling us that the new generation need not be removed form the roots of the land.
Often his ally in those songs was Hemlata, a classically trained singer, who sang in virtually every Indian language, and whose popularity, though short-lived, at one time challenged that of Lata Mangeshkar. She was a gifted artiste blessed with a serene, dulcet clear voice, which, unfortunately, our filmmakers could not use the best way possible.
Then we have the likes of Iftekhar and Urmila Bhatt — the former as a doctor, the latter as a nurse who is also the heroine’s mother. It is not often that the camera settles on the visage of character actors in Hindi cinema. It does so here, giving us a nice example of what the two talented artistes were capable of doing.
As all these little moments of glory combine, we get a film that lives with us each passing day, as enjoyable today as some 34 years ago when it made it to the big screen. Indeed, distance in time fails to diminish emotion.
ZIYA US SALAM
It is not often that the camera settles on the visage of character actors in Hindi cinema. It does so here…