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Ankahee (Sify Exclusive)

Ankahee (Sify Exclusive)

Source: Sify

By: By Deepa Gahlot

Critic's Rating: 17/5

Saturday 20 May 2006

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Movie Title

Ankahee (Sify Exclusive)

Director

Mukesh Bhatt

Star Cast

Eesha Deol, Amisha Patel and Aftab Shivdasani

It is understandable that a director, who has so far earned limited success by churning out Hollywood rip-offs, should want to prove that he can do intense drama as well. So Vikram Bhatt, either by accident or design, let drop that 'Ankahee' was based on his short-lived romance with Sushmita Sen, which destroyed his marriage.

Ankahee, however, turns out to be a marginally altered version of Mahesh Bhatt?s 1982 Arth. That film, which won numerous awards?including a National Award for Shabana Azmi?was a trendsetter. Those were the days when many offbeat and middle-of-the-road filmmakers, were exploring women?s issues with varying degrees of success. Arth had been taken out of Mahesh Bhatt?s own life, his affair with the mentally troubled Parveen Babi and the break-up of his marriage to Kiran. This was before Mahesh Bhatt became a assembly line filmmaker and Arth was made with a searing intensity and depth, a nakedness of emotions, which his actors (Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Kulbhushan Kharbanda) were able to convey.>AXN Action Awards Since then every aspect of marriage ? infidelity in particular?has been tackled by Hindi cinema on both sides of the art-commerce divide (Paroma, Ek Pal, Drishti, Akele Hum Akele Tum, Murder, Bewafaa, Mixed Doubles to name just a few). If Vikram Bhatt had nothing to add to it, then he should have refrained from reheating a classic.

Anyway, since he did, one can only examine Ankahee for what it is worth. The first thing that goes wrong is the casting ? Aftab Shivdasani as the husband, Ameesha Patel as the wife and Esha Deol as the neurotic model and ?other woman? ? are too callow to be able to project the pain of dysfunctional relationships.

They do not belong to the ?art film? school of realistic acting, so they are not willing to let go of their vanity. Even when she is hysterical or suicidal, Esha Deol?s eyes are trendily made-up and not a hair in her stylish coiffure is out of place. Ameesha Patel?s wardrobe is always perfect and glossy, long hair is always down, though she is playing a housewife, who ostensibly does the housework herself. Aftab Shivdasani is always seen in suits and the only expression he can manage is a puzzled frown. Can these overgrown kids, whose lives revolve around Page 3, manage to project heart-breaking agony? Obviously not. And once the characters cannot command empathy, the story of a broken marriage is reduced to a superficial soap opera.

In Arth, the wife was an orphan; for her, husband and home signified a security she had never had before. So when she pleads with the other woman, to let her have her husband back, her tragedy was palpable. When the wife in Ankahee implores, saying, ?You have everything, I only have my husband as the ground beneath my feet,? she evokes contempt.

The other woman is absolved of responsibility in both films, by portraying her as mentally unstable, but in Ankahee, the husband?s attraction to the celebrity other woman is not quite clear. Is he genuinely in love, flattered by the attention, smothered in his seemingly flawless marriage, bored with his too submissive wife? Can?t tell!

Moreover, Arth took the wife Pooja?s point of view and took a feminist stand. When she is unable to save her marriage, Pooja takes charge of her life, refuses to get into a relationship on the rebound and finds meaning in her existence.

In Ankahee, you get to see the wife 16 years later, a morose, bespectacled, grey-haired woman, who obviously lost her battle with life. The husband is ill, dying and begging his daughter for forgiveness. So what?s the point of the film? Unfortunately, despite Vikram Bhatt?s efforts, Ankahee just retains the shell of Arth, but not its honesty or cathartic anguish.

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