By Debjani Bhadra
“It is so simple to be happy
but it is so difficult to be simple.”
These beautiful lines by Guru Rabindranath Tagore were used by celebrated director, Hrishikesh Mukherjee in his film “Bawarchi”.
Whenever we talk about simplicity, especially in the world of Hindi cinema, the first name that comes to my mind is our very own Hrishikesh Mukherjee, fondly called “Hrishi da”. Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s film starred some of the biggest names in the 70’s and 80’s, stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmedra, Rajesh Khanna, Rekha, Sharmila Tagore or Jaya Bhaduri.
As a director Hrishkesh Mukherjee was known as someone who cared more about the characters and the stories than the stars. He was known for his well-planned and extremely low budget films. He had the ability to create a whole film using just an L – shaped wall as a set. He preferred to keep his costumes simple, ensuring they did justice to the characters social status. Amitabh Bachchan, on a talk show, spoke about how the director would sometimes ask the actors to act in the clothes they had worn to the shoot that day.
Hrishi da knew the best way to connect with India’s cinema audiences. Great meaningful stories, with nuanced characters and lots of humour. Simple moments of everyday life would play out in his films, little moments that we often gloss over and never spend time to reflect upon.
In his classic film ‘Anand’, the protagonist played by Rajesh Khanna inspired audiences to be happy and live life king-size, even though he himself is losing his to cancer.
“Babu Moshai zindagi badi hone chahiye lambi nahi”.
These lines have a universal appeal and that is why ‘Anand’ is still considered as a masterpiece. In films like ‘Anand’, ‘Bawarchi’ or ‘Abhimaan’ our superstars somehow became those characters to us.
Rajesh Khanna as Raghu in the film ‘Bawarchi’ teaches us life lessons – how misunderstanding breeds unhappiness. The route to happiness is a simple one.
Sometimes I wish I could have a ‘Bawarchi’ like him in my life who could solve life’s problems with a snap of his fingers.
Remember the effervescent Manju from the movie ‘Khubsooratt’ and the nirmal-anand she brought to the family. In ‘Khubsoorat’, Hrishi da conveys the message that discipline and fun are important in equal amounts. Breaking “qayeda” or rules doesn’t always mean that you do not respect them, it just means that sometimes you need to break free to discover new worlds.
Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s comedies like ‘Golmaal’ and ‘Chupke Chupke’ are among his most popular, fondly watched and re-watched by generations of audiences. Hrishida’s sense of humour, finding quirks in the simple day to day rhythm of life.
Hrishi da started his film career with the film ‘Musafir’ and then created the blockbuster ‘Anari’ with legendary actor Raj Kapoor in the 1950’s. That kickstarted his directorial career and he continued to make films till the 1990’s. Rishikesh Mukherjee films bore his unique original stamp, celebrating ordinary middle class lives, simple everyday moments, that could connect with audiences across generations and continue to be popular today.
Hrishikesh Mukherjee died in 2006, however he will forever be with us through his films.
30th September is his birth anniversary, a day to celebrate “Hrishi da” and the 42 films he created. Today, I am going to sit back and watch my favourite. His canvas is large and varied, from tragedies to comedies, so which one will you be choosing to honour him today?
Debjani Bhadra is an entrepreneur and an aspiring filmmaker, her passion for writing, music and filmmaking inspired her to start her own record label and a small production house in Mumbai. She loves nature and dreams of a small house with a beautiful view and a kitchen garden. She believes in finding happiness in small things.