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Hrishikesh Mukherjee's best films

August 28, 2006
Anupama (1966)

Hrishikesh Mukherji won acclaim early in his directorial career. His second film Anadi, a rather simplistic paean to a simple man's (Raj Kapoor) battles against capitalistic forces, was a huge commercial success. Hrishida's third film, Anuradha, about a neglected hausfrau's relationship with another man, won the National Award that year.

But in my opinion, the Hrishikesh Mukherji brand of cinema really came into its own with Anupama. This heart-breakingly intimate look at a troubled father-daughter relationship didn't carry a huge price tag; but was embellished and enhanced by the characteristically Hrishida brand of subtle humour and peopled with a cast of intrinsically decent people (even Shashikala here has a heart of 24-carat gold) who typically populated Mukherji's genteel cinematic universe.

In Anupama, Hrishida’s own story explored the fine calibrations between love and hatred. Sharmila Tagore's father struggles with himself but cannot forgive his daughter for his beloved wife's death in childbirth. Sharmila grows up to be a shrinking violet (albeit with an out-of-character bouffant), who blossoms when a sensitive novelist (Dharmendra) enters the scene and encourages her to break free.

Hrishida's best films always had a cathartic climax. In Anupama, Sharmila finally asserts her identity and reaches the railway station to elope with Dharmendra. But without her knowledge, her father is also at the station, hiding behind a pillar, and weeping rivulets. His long repressed love for his daughter has finally won out against his resentment.

Also Read: The gentle pain of Anupama

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