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A lovely ensemble cast brings alive a strange little tale that spawns many philosophical questions, that may or may not be of importance in the larger scheme of existence. Rajat Kapoor’s Ankhon Dekhi is a bittersweet little film filled with texture and life.Read more
It only makes sense for us to pause, once in a while, and ask ourselves the question, “Why do we believe what we’re told, even if we haven’t seen it with our own eyes?”
As beings of a supposed higher intellect, with more than enough mental powers of analysis and reason, not to mention a far higher level of curiosity than any other living species, it would seem like humans would be far more individualistic creatures, not given to the level of unquestioning, blind following and hero worship that we’re so prone to, in reality. This behaviour of our species is perplexing, to the say the least.
Also perplexing, but equally delightful, is Rajat Kapoor’s Ankhon Dekhi – an earnest film that straddles the whimsical and the realistic in equal measure, as it shows us the journey of a man who grapples with this very question. A film that is all about the characters, the setting, the texture of their lives, and the mad little moments that come together to complete their various inter-relationships.
The film is set in old Delhi – the same Delhi of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Delhi 6 – except you get a far more realistic sense of place here. If a character stops for a kachori or a samosa, you can almost smell the smoky surroundings and the aroma of fried delicacies; you can almost feel the cramped lanes and the overhanging winter.
The characters themselves are a mad bunch. There’s the protagonist – the elder in the family; a man who reacts to a mid-life crisis in the strangest of manners. But he does so with so much conviction that he builds a guru-like following - a strange paradoxical twist that undermines the very question he seeks the answers to. Then there’s his verbose wife who sparkles of sincerity, froths over with frustration over her husband’s antics, yet seems the only one who can handle him. And so many more.
Ankhon Dekhi is as much about each of the characters and their relationships, as it is about the protagonist’s journey. It is here that the film walks a thin line – it almost borders on the surreal at times, while also showing the very real problems and misunderstandings that can crop up between two brothers, between a family and a prospective suitor for their daughter. Rajat Kapoor attempts to show us how, even if circumstances are never in our control, how we react to those circumstances almost always is.
But it is also here that that the film tends to waver. The goings-on, at times, seem to be quite pointless, not taking the film either forward or back. Then again, one could argue that so much in real life happens which seems to have no point at all. They happen because they have to. For instance, an inexplicable cameo appearance by a fine actor as a tourist looking for Jama Masjid has no beginning or end to it. It just happens with no explanation, no need, and yet it isn’t something you can fault. Or perhaps you can. The pointlessness seems to be the point of it.
Ankhon Dekhi manages to make you smile quite often. Charming, moving performances by Sanjay Mishra as the father (and older brother – one of the important relationships shown in the film), Seema Pahwa as his wife and Rajat Kapoor himself as the younger brother anchor the film, as do the little bit parts by the ensemble cast. Brijendra Kala, one of the best character actors we have, for example, does a fine job.
Ankhon Dekhi, then, often seems like an easy film to watch, but is also a puzzle at times. A study in contradictions, a gentle look at people and relationships, a wonderful example of how a film can be rooted and still be fanciful. It makes you ponder over it, it makes you want to relive it, but it also doesn’t completely convince you of whether you liked the film or not. It raises questions, and answers them with more questions. That, I suppose, is the film’s biggest victory.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
Thumbs up, by Prateek Sur , Bollywood Life : ...Ankhon Dekhi is a perfect mixture of an experimental art film and offbeat cinema, which gives you the feel of a Hrishikesh Mukherjee or a Woddy Allen film.... full review
Thumbs up, by Deepa Deosthalee, Film Impressions : ...In the end you’re left wondering, is Bauji a nihilist or pacifist, existentialist or humanist? And why should we care about his fate at all? Watch Ankhon Dekhi and decide for yoursel... full review
Thumbs up, by Rachit Gupta, Filmfare : ...This might not be your average entertainer. You won’t be rolling in the aisles on the jokes. You won’t be clapping for the heroics. But you will feel a strange sense of content after watching this mature film. And that is what good cinema feels like. Poignant, surreal and most importantly real.... full review
Thumbs up, by Suhani Singh, india today : ...Kapoor accomplishes the rare feat of making a film which both entertains and also compels you to think. Bauji's mantra is seeing is believing. Only be seeing Ankhon Dekhi will you be doing justice to it.... full review
Thumbs up, by Mohar Basu, koimoi : ...If Mithya was an irresistible dark comedy that held too many surprises for you, Ankhon Dekhi is just as predictable and yet so hard-to-let-go delicious... full review
Thumbs up, by Namrata Joshi, Outlook India : ...Ankhon Dekhi is a film that moves, provokes, sets you thinking and questioning but doesn’t provide you any easy answers. But it does take you on an enriching journey within if you allow yourself to flow with its current.... full review
So-So, by Martin D'Souza, Glamsham.com : ... If you are looking for something invigorating, ANKHON DEKHI is just for you. Don't trust me; like Bauji, go and see it for yourself. After all, seeing is believing! ... full review
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