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What is it about 'Do Anjaane'-a wonderfully crafted film that delves into the female psyche-that makes it relevant even today?
Do Anjaane (1976) which translates into “Two Strangers” is a classic Hindi film starring two valuable gems of the Hindi film industry, the legendary Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha who coincidentally share the same birthday month of October.
As a tribute to both exceptionally unparalleled artists, this article will delve into exploring this wonderfully crafted film and their outstanding portrayal of their characters.
This remarkable film Do Anjaane was directed by Dulal Guha and is loosely based on the Bengali story Rater Gari (The Car at Night) written by Nihar Ranjan Gupta. It also stars Prem Chopra, Pradeep Kumar, Utpal Dutt, Lalita Pawar, and the upcoming young star Mithun Chakraborty. Ironically, many well-esteemed actors from Calcutta (now Kolkata), West Bengal were a part of the film adding the sweet flavor of Bengal in this story set in 70s Calcutta. This film resonated with me due to being the product of Bengali parents and watching it for the first time with my mom.
The film begins with the abrupt car accident of the debonair Amit Roy (Amitabh Bachchan) while driving alone and subsequently into a tree. From there, we realize that this was the second time he met with an accident because he failed to recognize the place where he gained consciousness alongside the people in front of him. It turns out he lost his memory from the last 6 years and has been living with the new identity Naresh Dutt, the only lost son of wealthy parents from Mumbai who rescued him 6 years ago.
Within a few seconds, Naresh Dutt (Amitabh Bachchan) goes into a flashback immediately after getting his memory back and we begin to follow him on his journey as Amit Roy, a simple, handsome, well-educated middle-class man from Calcutta.
15 minutes into the story, Rekha is introduced as the young gorgeous talented rising star dancing gracefully in front of a packed audience to “Kahin Door Mujhe Jana Hai” sung by the nightingale of India, Lata Mangeshkar, which translates to “I Must Go Somewhere Far” foreshadowing her ambitious career-driven personality. This is the first song of the film and truly sets the stage for what’s yet to come next in this dynamic storyline. Ironically, this is also the first time Amit falls head over heels in love with her as he is awe-struck by her beautiful dance performance.
Here are some of the pivotal lyrics followed by the English translation to this song manifesting a woman’s aspirations and empowerment:
Kahin Door Kahin Door… (Somewhere far, somewhere far)
Mujhe jaana hai, kahin door (I must go somewhere far)
Koi mere saath chale na chale (Whether someone goes with me or not)
Koi mere saath chale na chale (Whether someone goes with me or not)
Mujhe koi saathi mile na mile (Whether I find a partner or not)
Par jaana hai zaroor (But I must go far)
Kahin Door Kahin Door (Somewhere far, somewhere far)
Jahan mere sapno ka pyaar pale (Where the love for my dream will be born)
This love at first sight phenomenon transitions into marriage as Amit asks for Rekha’s hand when he visits her parents. Like I mentioned before, Rekha is superbly ambitious and has a lot of career aspirations to fulfil so she ends up refusing to get married when her parents inform her about Amit’s proposal. She screams: “Aitraaz mujhe hai! Mujhe yeh shaadi nahi karni hai, nahi karni hai, nahi karni hai.” To translate: I object! I don’t want to get married, don’t want to get married, don’t want to get married.
She continues by further proclaiming:
“Meri tamanna kuch aur hai. Mein ek bahut bari artiste banna chahti hoon. Naam kamana chahti hoon. Shohrat chahti hoon. Rupaye chahti hoon. Tum logo ko sukhi dekhna chahti hoon.” (My aspirations are something different. I want to become a big artist. I want to earn fame, name, and money. I want to see both of you happy).
As a young woman, I remember acting the same way whenever my parents talked about marriage proposals, especially in my early 20s. Honestly, the reason was just the same.
Being a young American woman born to Indian immigrants of the 21st century, my career goals and ambition have always been my number one priority in life. It is striking how Rekha’s character was extremely forward-thinking and career-oriented back in 1976 India. Back then, the societal norm mostly focused on a woman dedicating her entire life towards her marriage and children. Without being given the freedom to be able to think about her own identity as a woman and her dreams.
This is how modern Indian women are depicted today and it feels amazing to witness such a woman back in the late 70s. On the other side of the spectrum, it is equally important to include marital bliss and motherhood in a woman’s life. I learned this from the various women in my life who can strike a complete balance both professionally and personally.
Reluctantly, Rekha agrees to marry Amit due to her parent’s insistence and their belief that her career goals could be fulfilled even after marriage since her dance catalyzed Amit’s attraction toward her. After marriage, Amit does try his best to work hard and earn enough money to keep her happy and does encourage her to pursue her interests as demonstrated by his positive acceptance of Rekha continuing to learn dance with her Masterji (Dance Instructor). Amit ends up further affirming this fact by declaring: “Sapna mein bhi dekhta hoon. Rupaye ka sapna, dher sari rupaye jiske sahare mein tumhara har tamanna puri kar sakho. Apne iccha aur kalpana ke hisab se tumhe saja sakho.” (I also dream, of a whole lot of money with which I can fulfill your every dream).
Hearing him say this does ignite love and affection in Rekha’s heart for her husband and deep down we can sense that she does have strong feelings for him but her dreams of wanting to be successful and earn lots of money sometimes gets in the way.
On point to be noted, this was the first time this super pair worked together, and their organic chemistry flowed naturally making them well-suited for their roles. Hence, this iconic pair will always be celebrated for their stellar performances and for leaving an indelible mark in the history of Indian Cinema.
Throughout their marital life, she (Rekha) is always ranting about “paisa, paisa, and paisa” (money, money, & money) most of the time irking her husband. Being financially strong is a superb feeling but money cannot buy happiness and mental peace. This is something that ends up forming a major theme in this plot as the audience will observe the dynamic shift in Rekha’s personality.
In the meantime, we notice another dimension to Rekha’s personality when she realizes she’s pregnant and ends up shouting: “Nahin mujshe maa nahi banna hai!” (I don’t want to be a mother!)
To which Amit replies: “Ye kaisi baat kar rahi hon. Duniya mein konsi aisi aurat hai jo maa nahi banna chahti? Yeh toh aurat ka sabse bara gaurav hai.” (What are you saying? What woman wouldn’t want to become a mother? Motherhood is the greatest of glories for a woman.)
Next she replies sobbingly: “Mujhe nahi chahiye gaurav. Nahi Chahiye! Haath mat lagao mujhse. Tumne meri armanon ka khoon kar diya!” (I don’t want glory! Don’t touch me. You killed all my aspirations!)
To provide further context behind the dialogue exchange above: she would always complain to her husband that he ruined her life, and the innocent husband would just keep listening since he loved her a lot. After this melodramatic scene between the couple, Rekha ends up giving birth to a son and everything seems to be going well in their married life. However, Amit’s eccentric-looking friend Ranjit Mallik (Prem Chopra) from America arrives flaunting his massive wealth much to the chagrin of Amit. Despite getting steadily accustomed to marital life, the desire of fame and wealth fails to leave her mind. Ranjit Mallik ends up taking advantage of her weakness and ultimately succeeds in manipulating her towards the world of stardom.
In the midst of all of this, the audience gets to witness the pure and adorable father-son relationship between Amit and his son Mithun via the melodious song “Luk Chhip Luk Chhip Jaona” sung by the maestro Kishore Kumar while Rekha is exploring the outdoors with Ranjit Mallik. This song ends up becoming the connective medium that enables Mithun to recognize his father when they reunite after 6 years at his boarding school in Darjeeling.
The entry of the villainous and shrewd Ranjit Mallik portrayed effectively by Prem Chopra sparks jealousy, insecurities, marital turmoil, and habituation towards alcohol in Amit’s life and personality. Ranjit resembles a turbulent storm set to turn the worlds of Amit and Rekha upside down as the story unravels.
On the pretext of taking Amit, Rekha, and their son Mithun to see the exotic Ajanta Ellora via journey by train, Ranjit ends up pushing Amit out of the train after Amit realizes how evil Ranjit really is. For instance, he narrates in his exuberant baritone voice: “Yeh joh tum Ranjit Mallik ho, yeh Blacklabel ka label tumhare andar chupa hua hai. Kyon Ki jo tum andar ho aur bahaar ho usme zameen aasman ka farak hai.” To translate: The “Ranjit Mallik” that you are portraying, this Blacklabel is the label that is hiding inside you. Because there is a whole world of a difference in who you are claiming to be and who you really are!)
Hence, this explains what caused his amnesia and the formation behind his second identity as Naresh Dutt. Whether you call it the twist of fate or simply a mere coincidence, Amit, now as the wealthy Naresh Dutt, arrives back in Calcutta to settle old scores and catches a glimpse of Rekha’s poster as the leading actress of a Bengali film titled “Pativratha” which translates into “Devoted to husband.”
This actually made me laugh since Rekha, now renamed Sunita Devi is portraying the role of the quintessential Hindustani woman whose life revolves around becoming Sita to her Ram whom she was unable to fully portray as Amit’s married wife Rekha. It certainly shocked Amit too!
Guess what, Amit ends up heading to the theater to watch his dear wife’s performance as the “Pativrata aurat”. This scene was truly a joy to the eyes since we get to see the iconic diva Rekha speaking bengali so beautifully when she says, “Thakur, tumi toh jaano thakur, tumi eto nisthor hoyo na, shami ke chere ami baajhte parbo na thakur. Tumi amake nau, oke phire dau. Oke bhalo kore dao, oke bhalo kore dao.” (God, you do know, don’t be so cruel. I cannot live without my husband. Please take me instead but return him to me. Please cure him and make him healthy). Her emotions were so genuine in this scene leaving Amit surprised as to how different this role is from her actual life.
Moving on, the film’s deep-rooted substantial dialogues added wonders to this film’s overall social message. For instance, Amit Roy’s (Amitabh Bachchan) multiple monologues directed toward Rekha drives the whole message home. Here are those phenomenal dialogues delivered with supreme caliber and finesse:
“Kitni khudgarz ho tum Rekha! Tumhare hawas ke aage pati ka pyaar, maa ki mamta kuch mayne nahi rakhti. Rekha, zindagi mein jo tumne chaha woh tumne paaya. Magar kuch paane ke liye kuch kimat chukani padti hai.” (How selfish are you, Rekha! Compared to your desire for stardom, your husband’s love and motherly love does not matter at all. Rekha, you have got all you wanted in your life. But to get something, you must pay the cost.)
“Tumhare paas jo maa ka dil tha tumne woh armaanon ki chita par jala ke raakh kar diya!” (You have cremated the mother’s heart at the altar of your aspirations!).
“Tum ek dil mein nahin hazaaro dilon mein ek saath basna chaati thi. Issi liye aaj na toh tum kisi ki maa ho naahi kisi ki patni. Tumne apna taan, maan saab kuch apni ek khwahish ke liye duniya ke bazaar mein bech diya. Aaj tum lakhon dilon ki tamanna ho, duniya ki nazron mein Urvashi, Meneka ho, Sunita Devi ho!” (You wanted to live in thousands of hearts and not just one. This is why you are nobody’s mother and nobody’s wife today. You sold your body and soul in the market of the world! Today you are the desire of thousands of hearts and in the eyes of the world you are Urvashi, Meneka, and Sunita Devi!).
Just like Rekha was listening to these truths about herself with tears glistening from her expressive eyes, the realization crept in and left me utterly astounded by these power-packed pearls of wisdom showcasing the myriad facets of women. In other words, these exemplary scenes filled with a sea of emotions are indeed of vital importance and worth watching even today!
Do Anjaane is a magnificent film in the sense that it genuinely delves into the female psyche and showcases a real-life conflict most women still face today. The constant battle of balancing their professional life with their personal life, or perhaps choosing one over the other. Many new mothers still experience the guilt of leaving their children behind in the hands of a caregiver such as a nanny or their own family members to pursue their professional goals. However, Rekha’s character was the complete opposite since she never really wanted to settle down in life as a typical wife and mother. For her, money, fame, and success were ranked high on the pedestal of significance compared to the love of her husband and child. We can all learn a major life lesson here!
There is more to life than being an obsessive achiever and chasing after wealth. In fact, the title of the film highlights the fact that both spouses were complete strangers to each other’s desires and interests before marriage and hence their marriage ended up crumbling. For instance, Amit Roy desired a healthy family life with his wife and child alongside a little bit of wealth to live happily.
What happens at the end of this story and the fate of this married couple builds incredible suspense. Does this story have a happy ending with Amit Roy forgiving Rekha and simultaneously reuniting with Rekha and their son Mithun? Is Amit able to succeed in his quest for revenge against Ranjit Mallik and does he get punished? Or does Rekha never realize what she lost in her life and the special value of living a happily married life with children? These are the mind-boggling questions that tend to pop up while watching the film and the answers to these questions form the foundation behind this social drama.
In-post images from Do Anjaane Trailer on Youtube
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