Arguably Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s finest film, a bittersweet comedy about a doctor and his cancer patient starring Rajesh Khanna in a delightfully hilarious performance and Amitabh Bachchan in a breakthrough supporting role.
Dir. Hrishikesh Mukherjee
1971 | India | Comedy/Drama | 122 mins | 1.33:1 | Hindi
Not rated – likely to be PG
Cast: Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Sumita Sanyal
Plot: Dr Bhaskar Bannerjee isn’t happy with his profession as he can’t save the lives of people dying of illness due to poverty. Things change when Anand a cancer patient enters Bhaskar’s life.
Awards: Won Special Award – Best Actor (Venice); Won Best Film in Hindi (National Film Awards)
Source: Shemaroo Entertainment
Subject Matter: Moderate – Friendship, Living, Death
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Audience Type: Mainstream
If you have never heard of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Anand is the best possible place to start. It is not just arguably his finest film, but one of the true classics of Indian, or more specifically, Hindi cinema from the 1970s.
Mukherjee’s strength is his proclivity toward celebrating warm, resonating characters, making romance and comedy a mainstay in his output as a director.
In Anand, he brings together two of India’s greatest actors, Rajesh Khanna in one of his most unforgettable performances, and ‘new face’ Amitabh Bachchan in a breakthrough supporting role.
One might best describe the film as a bittersweet tale centering on cancer and death, but it is to Mukherjee’s and his fellow scriptwriters’ credit that the film is far from dreary.
“Babumoshai, life should be big, not long.”
In fact, Khanna plays Anand, possibly the most jovial cancer patient ever committed to screen, flaunting his terminal intestinal disease as if he has won the lottery.
He believes in living life to the fullest and as the assortment of characters around him would attest, it is difficult not to fall for his comic mischief and charm.
Bachchan, on the other hand, is Anand’s solemn-looking doctor who realises that there are some medical problems that he will never be able to solve. We get a yin-yang situation—an exhausted doctor who probably can’t sleep at night, and a cancer patient whose energy is impossible to contain.
Part of the fun of seeing—and revisiting—Anand is experiencing this tension between these two characters who realise that they are emotionally dependent on one another, sharing a deep kinship despite their limited time together. And for a commercial-leaning movie, Anand is surprisingly existential at times.