Work and other stuff (mostly other stuff) has kept me away from blogging for about 2 weeks now. But for this week Arbitenthu is back with Anita. Ya, I know I promised to write about Angoor last time but my Arbit struck me again.
As I have aged to the ripe ol’ age of 24, I have realized that a lot of my old DD favorites have come from a man known as Raj Khosla. He was single handedly responsible for delivering many lazy weekend afternoons, where me and my brother used to be glued to the idiot box watching movies like Mera Saya, Mera Gaon Mera Desh, CID, Solva Saal (the title may raise eyebrows today, but it’s a charming movie starring Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman, remember “Hai apna dil to awara”). Anita (1967) is the third part of what is now called the “Sadhana Trilogy” by Raj Khosla, with Wo Kaun Thee (1964), and Mera Saya (1966) making up the other two.
With counter parts as illustrious as these two, it was surprising that Anita never caught on my radar. I chanced upon this relatively lesser known piece (atleast to me) at my local DVD store, and vaguely recalled reading about it somewhere at Memsaab’s, and then in a classic case of enthu getting the better of me, got the disc.
Anita stars the beautiful and mysterious Sadhana in the title role, with Manoj Kumar playing Neeraj, her love interest. The mysterious tone of the movie is set in the first scene itself with Anita’s father Seth Biharilal (Sajjan) visiting an astrologer with his daughter’s janamkundli (birth chart), and the astrologer making dire but vague (as usual!!) predictions about her. We then cut to her house where Neeraj is wooing her with a Mukesh classic “Gore Gore chand se”.
We learn that Neeraj is eager to marry Anita, although she is a bit vague about it and her father completely against it (as usual!!). After a tiff with her father she asks Neeraj to marry her the same day. While they are getting married at the registrar her father arrives and following a quite word she goes with her father leaving Neeraj high and dry.
Neeraj is obviously shattered, and when he goes to her house, he meets Anil (no idea who he is, not even on imdb but has a sight resemblance to Dharamender), who is all set to marry Anita. Even more bewildered Neeraj talks to her and she tells him to forget her. Neeraj, now completely depressed resigns from his job, but instead his manager transfers him to Delhi. There he receives a telegram from Anita saying her life and izzat are in danger. He rushes back to Bombay just to hear that she has committed suicide. Not only that but she was pregnant when her body was found. Whew!!!! and all that in less than 20 minutes……
Neeraj being the pious hindi movie hero could not have done this (obviously!!) so he starts the search for the person who did IT, and his search begins with Anil. Anil himself is in agony as he was about to get married to Anita, but tells Neeraj about her “other side”.
Anita was diagnosed with a “split personality disorder” while in Shimla a few years back. She was found dancing with nomads to a naughty number “Pichhware budhha khansta”. When Neeraj refuses to believe this Anil shows him a portrait of Anita, and what a portrait it is!!! Sadhana is shown in orgasmic ecstasy, chewing her necklace, and almost topless, in what could be one of the most sensual portrays of a contemporary hindi movie heroine.
Neeraj, now shocked at how little he has known of Anita, meets the painter (IS Johar), whose favorite pastime is to kill flies (makhii maarna). He tells him of a story when he met Anita on board a ship, and she seduces him with the song “Kareeb aa”. Sadhana is looking smoking hot!!!
Neeraj is losing himself and is starting to see Anita everywhere, but on one such sighting he is convinced that he has seen Anita indeed. He follows her to a mansion (haunted obviously!!), and assigns the investigation to a private detective (Dhumal and Birbal). What follows is a compulsory and unnecessary side plot with Tuntun and Mukri also joining in the fray. I’m all for comic side plots, but the movie was running so tightly that the sight of Dhumal & Co is frustrating.
The story moves with Neeraj going to his brother’s house in Nainital, and no prizes for guessing that he will see Anita there again. This time he actually gets to talk to her, but she is not Anita but Jogan Maya, an ascetic. Neeraj wants to be with her, she agrees to meet him everyday but on the condition that he does not follow her (she even marks a tree as his boundary..phew!!!). One day she doesn’t appear, and Neeraj with his bro and sis-in-law crosses the boundary, and voila!!! we find that Jogan Maya had died 25 years ago.
By this time I’m completely zapped, Raj Khosla has done a wonderful job in catching your attention till this point, but then everything comes apart. Starting with Neeraj meeting Anita again, this time clad in a burqa in the train back to Bombay from Nainital. The revelations that follow are well, to say the least disappointing. It leaves more questions than answers, and everything seems made up just for the sake of creating suspense.
The direction is typical Raj Khosla, with lots of mirrors, and window shots. He has shot Sadhana in the most exquisite possible manner, and has bought out all shades of sensuality, vulnerability, and helplessness in her character. She fits the bill of a mystery woman to the core. Manoj Kumar is just about OK, although his character had to look confused and hurt all the time. I felt music was a major let down, which probably was the reason I hadn’t heard of Anita. Although “Gore gore chand se” is a must listen for Mukesh fans (been playing continuously on my playlist).
The movie grabs your attention from the first scene, and moves at a breath neck pace (the side plot is irritating though). What let the movie down is the climax, which was sudden, and hard to believe, and contradicted many of the previous events.
In spite of all the flaws Anita is a fine movie, but falls way short of classic thrillers like Mera Saaya, Ittefaq or Humraaz.