Do Anjaane (1976)
Name: Do Anjaane (Two strangers)
Director: Dulal Guha
Did I watch this recently? Yes
Amitabh Bachchan stars as the good-natured Amit, who falls for the gorgeous and ambitious dancer Rekha (played by you-know-who). Their marriage cuts short her career, which Rekha blames Amit for. Amit (coincidence or not) falls victim to a coma-inducing train accident, and Rekha, egged on by a conniving businessman who was also Amit’s best friend. The best friend could always tell Rekha’s weakness and exploits it from the beginning. So egged on by the best friend, Rekha begins to pursue an acting career. The now-amnesiac Amit vows to put the pieces of his life back together, an ordeal that will involve singing, dancing, deceit, revenge, and yet another bout of amnesia!
When i first read the synopsis for Do Anjaane I thought of it as nothing more than another 70s movie with groovy clothes and a WTF storyline. It does in some ways have the WTF storyline – a man losing his memory twice. Amitabh’s character in this (Amit) is a bit like a bad tv. One minute you bang the TV and it gets the channel reception and next time you bang the tv it loses reception. Same thing for Amit who after one accident loses his memory, but after the second accident gains his memory back. Comedic to be sure, but do not think the rest of the film is as flimsy.
The movie is more then just your average 70s soapie storyline. It actually deals with serious and relevant issues – while of course doing the usual push of indian values to the viewer. The themes and issues explored are relatively bold, mature and relevant to even todays society where Indian women are conflicted between career and family. But don’t think that it is a broad minded and even look at that debate. The career seeking Rekha is mostly portrayed as evil (and does some very evil things) because she wants a career and security over a son. The movie makes some very good points, but overall i think the issue was not played out even handedly. Oh well it is bollywood, i’m just glad they even tried to attempt this kind of issue.
The title ‘Do Anjaane’ or in english ‘two strangers’ most likely refers to the fact that Amitabh & Rekha married in the movie without really knowing each other. He sees her dancing and then decides he wants to marry her as a result of his first attraction. They soon discover as soon as the nuptial night occurs that they both have very different wants out of life – she doesn’t want to be married with children but wants to be a famous dancer, rich and with power. He wants nothing more then a wife and to have children. He is happy to be poor as long as his family is happy and loved. Because of not knowing this about each other in the first place, they are really two strangers who are now in a marriage where they both want very different things. This of course inevitably leads to future problems.
This film has a good social message and i think was a product of its time where India was trying to push socialism against western capitalism. You could view Amitabh’s character (Amit) as the good indian husband who is happy to work for 500 rupees a month in the same job till he dies. Then there is Rekha who is always obsessed with looks and money, “paisa, paisa, paisa” as Amit says. She should be the good indian wife, happy to just stay at home being a doting wife and mother to her son. But she has career ambitions – shes the new age western woman. She wants to live beyond her means just for the sake of looking good to others. But Rekha becomes so obsessed with money that she loses sight of what is important in her life – the love of her husband and son. She was so blinded by her ambitions she never saw what was right in front of her. As the beatles once wisely said ‘money can’t buy you love’. So in some ways i’m sympathetic, in most ways not. She did have to dance since she was young cause her family is so poor, so its only understandable she has a drive to be well-off. But the way in which Rekha tried to pursue her career and riches was in such a way, even in todays perspective you can’t pitty such a harsh woman who doesn’t even show love on her child.
I’m guessing by the fact the characters are called Amit (for Amitabh) and Rekha (for Rekha) that they were always the actors in mind to play the characters. Maybe thats why they are so believable together. Amitabh does a good job at playing the poor guy in love with his new wife, who would do anything for her. Rekha in the first half was mostly a bitchy character but there was splatters of sympathy for her character in some of the marriage scenes. Like when she fires her dancing instructor cause they don’t have enough money or when she wants to give the best friend back the pearls he bought her after Amitabh gets jealous over the present. But in the second half I lost all sympathy for her.
The biggest let down of this film for me was the ending. I felt the last 1.5 minutes was a major ‘cop out’, they should have left it at the airplane scene. I have a feeling the director changed it after fearing how audiences would act after a sad ending, cause it really feels like the other ending was quickly shoved in after. There were only a couple of songs and the only one that sticks to my mind is the father and son song. Other then that they are largely forgettable.
Overall Score: 3/5 Hairy Anil Kapoors – Overall the film has an engaging and unconventional storyline. The movie attempts to address several social issues, but i feel they have not been even handed and have been weak in the delivery. Amitabh as the sympathetic protagonist is extremely moving (especially in his father & son scenes), but only Rekha could do such a convincing job as the emotionally devoid wife. Overall its a good attempt at the issues but the delivery is fairly weak especially due to the ending which annihilated any chance of providing a powerful social message.
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