30 July 2010 | Peter_Young
People die, but life never does
This is the story of former Headmaster B.V Pradhan and his wife, Parvati, an elderly Bombay couple who are still mourning the death of their only son, who was murdered in a mugging incident in New York. Their grief is immense, and each one of them deals with this tragedy differently. While the husband finds no hope in life and cannot see himself dealing with this situation, the wife does not lose faith in God and is convinced that her son will be reborn soon as suggested by a respected pandit. The couple, quite short of money, decide to rent their late son's room to a paying guest named Sujata, a budding actress who is having an affair with Vilas, the son of an influential politician. Life changes afterwards for the old couple. When Sujata finds out she is pregnant, Parvati considers it as the answer to her prayers, thinking that the child Sujata carries is the reincarnation of her son. But Vilas refuses to take responsibility, while the headmaster and Parvati decide to support Sujata no matter what. When Vilas' father gets to know about this, their life turns into one big nightmare. That's when the film turns from a drama into a semi-thriller.
Saaransh is an interesting watch, and is definitely one of Mahesh Bhatt's finest works. It is poignant, involving and moving. The script is very genuinely written, and the execution is quite well done, albeit a bit exaggerated at times. Bhatt presents Bombay as a very dark city of corruption, danger and violence, where life can be really miserable for the elderly and the poor. Old people are shown to be given no respect, and the police is presented as corrupted and careless. But this very depiction actually helped to highlight the courage of this old couple to face them all and stand for what they believe. The film worked more as a drama rather than a thriller. The suspense did work, but the film's main theme, which is the pain of losing your child was much more powerful. One could really feel their pain and understand the headmaster's despair and attempts at suicide, as well as Parvati's fervent and self-convincing beliefs. The film is full of touching moments, all of which are very easy to relate to. That's all due to the well-written dialogues, the simple sets, the limited number of songs which too play only over montage sequences, and of course the lack of overdone melodrama.
The portrayal of BV and Parvati's relationship is heartwarming. They are there for each other, and that's what gives them the strength to struggle and go on despite the pain. These two remarkable elderly characters are played by Anupam Kher and Rohini Hattangadi, who ironically had not even reached their thirties at the time. People unaware of their real age could easily think their real age is as presented in the movie, and this explains why they were often typecast in such roles in mainstream Hindi cinema afterwards. This is actually Anupam Kher's first film, and his performance easily ranks amongst his best. He is phenomenal in this role, getting everything about his character absolutely spot on, whether it's his expressions, his body language or his emotional outbursts. Hattangadi is marvelous as Parvati, the optimistic, decisive and supportive wife, who finds solace in her beliefs and prefers living in her own bubble rather than accept reality as it is. Sony Razdan is too well cast and does an excellent job as Sujata.
Saaransh is a great emotional drama. The film's ending is, as in most of Bhatt's films of those times, fantastic. It makes one understand that life is to be cherished, even in the most dire of circumstances.