On this weekly column, we revisit gems from the golden years of Hindi cinema. This week, we revisit V Shantaram’s 1957 movie Do Aankhen Barah Haath.
Ten years had handed since India gained its hard-fought independence and the nation was younger, hopeful, and prepared for a wonderful future. 1957 was the right time for V Shantaram to launch his uber optimistic movie, Do Aankhen Barah Haath, which captured the zeitgeist of a nation. The movie tells the story of an open jail experiment as jailor Adinath, performed by Shantaram himself, takes six of essentially the most harmful convicts of his jail and relocates with them to a farm. He cooks for them, works on the sector with them, and cares for them like his family to show that with love and respect, even a killer might be remodeled. This distinctive experiment is alleged to be impressed by a real-life story that occurred within the 1930s, as is claimed by the opening textual content.
Because the movie begins, we’re launched to Adinath because the sort of jailor who doesn’t consider in violence, even when his life is at stake. He chooses six hardened criminals, who’ve all dedicated brutal murders, as he takes them to Azad Nagar, the place they will all stay in an open home with out locks and stay a relatively liberal life. He goals to remodel their violent nature so they could be a a part of the civil society. Inside the first couple of minutes of them leaving the jail compound, one of many prisoners nicks some meals from the native market and the remainder, collect round to eat it. Adinath appeals to their conscience, and lo and behold, they throw the meals away after only a few exchanges. My cynical self chuckled a bit on the scene as I discovered it extremely unlikely but it surely later bought me considering if it spoke about my bleak world view or the filmmaker’s sense to see the great in each individual.
The prisoners are proven to be males with darkish pasts, but their collective actions are sometimes these of obedient puppets. From tying their very own ft with shackles to allow them to go to sleep as they’re used to, to farming the land on their very own, they’re followers in determined want of a saviour. The jailor, or higher but, their grasp, trains them to observe his orders and turns them into wonderful staff. In a big scene within the movie, the prisoners resolve to slice Adinath’s throat however change their minds on the final second. The bone of rivalry right here is that one of many prisoners will get to have his kids at Azad Nagar whereas the others are separated from their households. After their morality is appealed to, the prisoner, whose youngsters grew to become the middle of this debate, throws his kids out of the home and blames them for the mess. Since that is imagined to be an emotionally transformative scene, all prisoners unite and resolve that they’d assist in elevating the children.
It’s right here that we begin seeing the loopholes in Adinath’s plan. Although Shantaram won’t have supposed this, his characters aren’t remodeling into rational beings, however are simply turning into fanatics who’ve their blinders on. Adinath just isn’t waving a wand to show them into higher people, however taming them. In one other important sequence, the prisoners get drunk and attempt to rape Champa, the girl promoting toys who typically visits their home to take care of the children. Previous to this scene, they’re continually letching over her however being inebriated pushes them additional. Adinath intervenes, and so the boys flip to him with weapons of their arms. The state of affairs will get subtle one way or the other however as viewers members, we understand that it’s virtually not possible to vary somebody’s nature, or what one would possibly name ‘fitrat,’ however that is definitely not what Shantaram supposed.
Shantaram’s message is right here is sort of simplistic – when you unfold the message of affection, it should change the world. However watching the movie right this moment comes with its fair proportion of cynicism. We all know the world isn’t as black and white as Shantaram expects us to consider with Do Aankhen Barah Haath however it’s comprehensible why a younger nation like India, again in 1957, would have wanted that hope. For a society that was nonetheless studying to be impartial after centuries of colonialism, we wanted aspirational tales and Do Aankhen Barah Haath was simply that. The plot of the movie appears unrealistic this present day, and doubtless was unrealistic again then as properly, however for each these eras, it’s a story of hope and searching for good in different people.
Talking of optimism, Do Aankhen Barah Haath is the movie that gave us the prayer “Ae Malik Tere Bande Hum.” A lot earlier than many people learnt that there was a filmmaker named V Shantaram, or he as soon as made an experimental movie within the 1950s, we knew the phrases to this music. Written by Bharat Vyas, the verses of the music speak in regards to the imperfections of people, and their dependency on the upper energy to guide them in direction of mild. Composed by Vasant Desai and sung by Lata Mangeshkar, the music carries the theme of the movie because it underlines religion because the strongest energy.
Do Aankhen Barah Haath is a historic movie for Indian cinema as this was the primary movie from India that gained on the prestigious Berlin Movie Pageant and in addition gained on the Golden Globes. Whereas watching the movie right this moment, you would possibly discover a few of the performances a bit theatrical in nature however it’s nonetheless the essence of the movie that counts. From a technical standpoint, the movie’s use of sunshine and shadow in pivotal scenes is a masterclass in cinematography. Cinematographer G Balkrishna and director Shantaram successfully use mild within the scene the place drunk prisoners resolve to assault Adinath with farm instruments. You don’t see their faces right here, however solely shadows of massive males who aren’t themselves, or so the storyteller believes.
Do Aankhen Barah Haath is the story that believes hope and religion can change the world however this isn’t the story for our cynical occasions.
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Do Aankhen Barah Haath is streaming on YouTube and ZEE5.