In a scene From Ankhon Dekhi, babu ji the protagonist of the movie decides he needs to know what it is like to hear a tiger roar. Consequently, he and his band of disciples land up in the zoo to experience the tiger roaring first hand. The tiger roars and babu ji pees his pants. Sometimes, our reaction to an experience can surprise us.
It is precisely that impulse of letting life and the world surprise him that sets off babu ji onto a very different tangent than the track his life has been so far. His life was pretty much standard issue for an Indian and a resident of New Delhi in particular where the lines between urban and rural are blurred and making it invariably involves beating, kicking and slapping down anyone who gets in the way. Add to that a crippling lack of privacy and social ridicule lurking everywhere, even one’s own home and you get the picture.
Which suddenly changed when babu ji decided to question all the givens in life, the assumptions that humans are smug about and decided to see if life, the world and relationships are truly what we imagine them to be or do we need to probe further and more crucially, does it offer us what we want?
The changes his attitude brings about change the order of his existence as it were. Apart from the upheaval in his family where his authority has so far been accepted, he now finds that he can’t take social norms for granted and begins to make decisions based on his knowledge and experience of situations.
As with all those who think for themselves and carve their own furrow in the fields of time, babu ji finds himself being called insane by some and a savant by others. He loses the support of significant people and finds supporters in the unlikliest places.
Human life is to be prized as per all the holy texts of every religion, since it’s the complete package and the most important perk it offers is free will. We are what we choose to be and our lives reflect those choices. That is the sobering takeaway for me from the film.
Dedicated to Sanjay Mishra, the leading man of Ankhon Dekhi, the stellar cast of the film who took their cues from director Rajit Kapur and a cinematic gem which hopefully will be remembered by the mostly discerning audience.