Three Mahesh Bhatt films we’d like to remember him by

Here are the 3 films that we would like to remember Mahesh Bhatt for

Photo courtesy: IANS
Photo courtesy: IANS

Subhash K Jha

Sadak 2 is the end of  the road for Mahesh Bhatt. Is this the same director who once made those memorable masterpieces? Here are the 3 films that we would like to remember Bhatt for.

1. Arth (1982):  The story  of  an abandoned  wife  who scratches and claws her  way back to the  surface  has Shabana Azmi in one of Indian cinema’s finest performances. The bold strokes  of feminism in  the storytelling  never seem painted on. Mahesh Bhatt once said to me, “Arth came into my life after a string of duds.These included Vishwasghat and Lahu Ke Do Rang which were fairly big-budgeted commercial films. Arth was a personal statement on the man-woman relationship that shattered the belief of the traditional power centres within our film industry that only a certain kind of formula works at the boxoffice.”

Did Mahesh ever expect the film to become  so  iconic? “I made Arth on the firm belief that any work which originates from a filmmaker’s heart inevitably connects with the aam junta. And it hit home in ways that shocked the industry, but not me. I remember  India won the Cricket World Cup on the very day when Arth was declared a hit. I remember I was at the Plaza cinema in Delhi watching the film on the Friday when it was released. We were tense, since this was not the kind of entertainment the public was used to. The scene where the deserted wife Shabana Azmi rejects  her husband Kulbhushan Kharbanda and walks away from him got a standing ovation from the so-called front-benchers at this hardcore mass-entertainment theatre. I knew then and there that our film was a hit.”

2. Saaraansh (1984):  A 65-year old man, played by  the  24-year old Anupam Kher in a role earmarked for Sanjeev Kumar  who comes to terms with  mortality after his only son’s sudden death, many consider Saaraansh a better film than Arth, and they are probably right. The pain of the protagonist is expressed in welters of creative eruption  that Bhatt never tried streamline in the plot. He just let it all flow out.  No wonder Anupam is so proud of Saaraansh:  “35 years  ago I played the age that I am now . I am grateful to the great Sanjeev Kumar for opting out of that project. Because of him I  got to do  one of  the most brilliantly written characters  at the beginning  of  my career.”

3. Zakham(1998):  Every time we forget how brilliant an actress  Pooja Bhatt is capable of being,  watch her as a woman who steals time with her husband  whenever he can get away from his first family. It’s hard to believe Pooja had never worn a saree before this. She looked as though she was born in one. This is the last film  Mahesh Bhatt directed before Sadak 2. And that’s the way it should  have remained.

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