An exemplary filmmaker Hrishikesh Mukherjee had a rare gift to capture reality and bring it on celluloid in the most amazing way. Through ‘Anupama’, the filmmaker underlined a calibration between love and hatred between a father and his daughter in a very fine way. Sharmila Tagore had a riveting role in the film ‘Anupama’ which had a characteristic Hrishi Da brand of subtle humour and actors portraying intrinsically decent characters.
Casting yesteryear star Ashok Kumar, Hrishi Da developed the character of the protagonist as a man of upstanding principles. In the film, Ashok makes a living in the city by entertaining children (the famous song Rail gaadi can be said to be India’s first rap number) and seeking substitutes for his daughter. But destiny lands him in jail for rescuing the daughter of a friend. Ashok Kumar role in the film steered him to a Filmfare Best Actor win.
Through ‘Satyakam’, Hrishi Da went experimental again and showcased a staunchly principled hero who refused all bribes, temptations and compromises but eventually loses his life when pitted against corrupt forces. ‘Satyakam’, which starred Dharamendra didn’t win any major award, but it remains his self-avowed best performance till date.
Film ‘Anand’ helped actor Rajesh Khanna become a superstar in the Hindi film industry. With the film, Rajesh Khanna delivered what is arguably the best performance of his career. Khanna played the determinedly cheerful, incessantly talkative title character, who suffers from a terminal illness but prefers to live out his last days in sun-dappled brightness, trying to make the lives of those around him happier. Amitabh Bachchan had a significant role to portray in ‘Anand’.
‘Guddi’ dared to change the conventional impression of heroines in films by projecting lead actress Jaya Bhaduri in simple girl-next-door image rather than just glamorous roles. Hrishi Da roped in his star-friend Dharmendra to ingeniously play himself and help reveal to Guddi the humdrum hard work that goes behind the creation of the fantasy.
Again starring Rajesh Khanna and Jaya Badhuri with Asrani, A.K. Hangal, Usha Kiran and Durga Khote Mukherjee’s classic ‘Bawarchi’ focused on spreading family values and morals through clean comedy.
Delving into the workings of the fragile male ego, through ‘Abhimaan’, Hrishida made an astute observation of the self-esteem problems which rise when a married couple is in the same profession, especially when the wife becomes more successful than the husband. With some of heart wrenching songs in the film, Hrishida brought out master piece acts by Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan.
Chupke Chupke 1975
A comedy of errors, ‘Chupke Chupke’ remains the evergreen family entertainer. The movie, a remake of the Bengali hit `Chhaddobeshi`, had music composed by master musician SD Burman. The movie enjoys a cult status.
Released in 1979, ‘Golmaal’ had an ensemble casting coup of comedians. Chemistry of Utpal Dutt, Amol Palekar and Dina Phatak had all in splits. Hrishi Da’s eye for absurd detail is evident in the scene where a fuming Utpal Dutt wants to confront a petrified Dina Pathak but is faced with the Herculean challenge of being able to sit on the moving swing she is perched on!
Khubsoorat is a sparkling comedy starring vivacious Rekha. The film depicts the conflicting roles of discipline and freedom in life. Dina Pathak plays the matriarch of a household who, like Queen Victoria, is not often amused. The battle lines are drawn when her daughter-in-law`s sister (played with verve by Rekha) incites her family to rebellion.