Hrishikesh Mukherjee was a director who told very simple stories in a very entertaining way. An editor before turning director with the movie Musafir (Kishore Kumar and Dilip Kumar) he used to edit the movies made by Bimal Roy. Because he was a great editor his movies were never dull and were edited crisply.
He had a team he used to work with frequently. The team consisted of actors, writers, music directors. Lyricist Gulzar , music director R.D. Burman, singers Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar and supporting actors like David, Asrani, Utpal Dutt, Asit Sen and Devan Verma were some of the artists with whom he would frequently collaborate. Most actors in the ’70s and ’80s would feel privileged if they would be considered in a Hrishikesh Mukherjee film. This is a director who worked with actors ranging from Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan to actors like Anil Kapoor. A director who worked with leading ladies from actresses like Nutan, Tanuja, Sadhana to actresses like Zeenat Aman and Juhi Chawla.
He was also the director who made the maximum number of films with Amitabh Bachchan. A respectable feat if you consider that Hrishikesh never succumbed to using Amitabh in the Angry Young Man persona in the “Salim-Javed” kind of way.
Some of the most memorable movies directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee were Musafir (1957)
Anari (1959), Mem Didi (1961 in which Tanuja , Kaajols mom, was introduced as a leading lady), Asli Naqli (1962 Dev Anand, Sadhana), Satyakam (1969 Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar), Bawarchi (1972 Rajesh Khanna, Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan), Abhimaan (1973 Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Badhuri Bachchan), Namak Haraam (1973 Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Rekha),Bemisaal (1982 Amitabh Bachchan, Raakhee, Vinod Mehra) and many more.
Anand was actually based on the friendship between Hrishikesh Mukherjee and actor Raj Kapoor. Because Hrishikesh could not even think of his friend Raj Kapoor die on-screen the role was not offered to him. The movie was initially going to be made with Kishore Kumar and Mahmood in the leading roles. But due to a misunderstanding between Hrishikesh and Kishore Kumar this combination did not work out.
Rajesh Khanna got the role of Anand and after Aradhana this is one of his best performances ever. It is hard to imagine another actor in this role. Rajesh Khanna was born to play Anand. Anand has cancer in the movie and knows he is dying. But instead of feeling sorry for himself and feeling helpless he wants to enjoy life and make the most of the time he has left. The next quote from the movie sums it up very nicely “Zindagi lambi nahin, badi honi chahiye”. He meets his doctor friend Ramesh Deo, the doctor’s wife Seema Deo whom he comes to see as his sister. One of the highlights in this movie according to me is during a party at the doctor’s home. Anand’s bhabhi/sister does not know that he is dying and asks her brother for his “aashirwad” (blessings). Now it is important to know that usually the elders bless with saying “Tujhe meri umar bhi lagajaaye”. And as she walks away and before Rajesh Khanna starts to sing the next song het whispers “Abe main kya kahoon bahen? Main yeh bhi nahin keh sakta ke tujhe meri umar lag jaaye”. Very subtle but this is one of the instances when we glance into Anand’s real soul and his true feelings. The mask comes off for just a few seconds.
Another person he meets and befriends is a doctor who wants to help him and eventually takes Anand in his home. They become best friends. “Babu Moshai”, a role played by an unknown actor named Amitabh Bachchan who got the Filmfare award for best supporting actor for his portrayal. Though Anand belongs to Rajesh Khanna, no doubt about that, you could sense that Amitabh would be a threat to Rajesh Khanna and Rajesh would eventually lose his throne to the best actor the Indian screen has ever had – Amitabh Bachchan.
Hrishikesh Mukherjee is the only director to have had Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna as the leading men in the same movie. The second and last movie the two actors did together was also by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Namak Haraam. Though Simmi Garewal was Amitabh’s leading lady in that movie and Rekha was Rajesh Khannas leading lady, fortunes had already changed and Rajesh Khanna was not the big star anymore. By this time the people had already fallen in love with and embraced the “angry young man”. After many years they would share screen space for a minute or so during the song “John Johnny Janardhan” picturised by Manmohan Desai for the movie “Naseeb”.
But like i said ANAND belongs to Rajesh Khanna. When you watch the movie closely you will notice that though Rajesh Khanna has no love track in the movie, it is very subtly mentioned that he had a girlfriend. Also mentioned is that she got married when he became ill. The day she got married Rajesh Khanna moved to Bombay. Rajesh Khanna as Anand wants to spread joy all around and does not want anybody to see the pain he has. I am including a clip of a song here. Just watch the expressions of Rajesh Khanna. This is wonderful
The music in this movie was by Salil Choudhury and all the songs are evergreen gems. Though Kishore Kumar was the voice of Rajesh Khanna this movie has no Kishore songs. The songs are sung by Mukesh, Manna Dey and Lata Mangeshkar. Kahin Door Jab Din, Maine Tere Liye, Zindagi kaisi hai paheli and Jiya Lage na are all classics
directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee
music by Salil Choudhury
singers Mukesh, Lata and Manna Dey
cast Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Lalita Pawar, Ramesh Deo, Seema Deo, Jhonny Walker and others