The Art of Living - Ankhon Dekhi

Updated: Jul 24

Writing behind the film Ankhon Dekhi, its character of Bauji and his new way of life.


Theme


The great philosopher Aristotle argues that what separates human beings from other animals is human reasoning, the ability to make scientific inquiry and philosophical discussion. In this chaotic fast-paced lifestyle of ours, we never get to stop and think around these aspects. We tend to follow the paths already laid by others and perceive things that have been fed to us from what we hear, most of which is from others’ experiences. Ankhon Dekhi tries to question this aspect of what one feels is his acquired knowledge. The director of the film Rajat Kapoor says that he too believes in the experience that he himself has acquired,” or as the protagonist says, “Mera Anubhav, Mera sach hai.”


The film opens up a new perspective that suggests perceiving the notion of truth only after experiencing it on their own. The film opens up with the voice-over of Bauji, talking about his dream where he sees himself as free and flying peacefully with eternal joy, which Rajat Kapoor says is the main quest of Bauji, “Finding Joy” even in the saddest situation.


Setup and Milieu


The movie is entirely shot on locations of old Delhi and the authenticity of these cramped spaces works to set up the milieu. Another important element is the extremely relatable characters of a joint family and their love and hate relationship amidst congestion. This is not just achieved in the direction but even in the writing, there are always overlapping dialogues in the interactions among each character in the family or from the neighborhood. Being an exception, Chachi remains silent initially, as she doesn’t like to be in such a chaotic place and hence later acts as the catalyst for separation.


Structure


The script can be broken into two layers; one being Bauji’s internal philosophical journey and the other being the incidents and interactions with other characters. These two layers feed off to each other and move the story ahead.


It opens with the voice-over of Bauji thinking about him flying which acts as a hook as well as sets up for the philosophical journey in the movie. In the end, this set up gets paid off when he actually flies like he had desired and the film comes to a complete circle structurally.


In the beginning scenes, the character of Ajju( Boyfriend of Bauji’s daughter) is beaten up by his family and friends on the suspicion of being a playboy and teasing his daughter, which turns out to be the opposite as Ajju seems like an innocent person who cannot harm anybody. This acts as the inciting incident which leads Bauji into introspection where he decides to believe only on his own experiences and reality.


Characterization and Arc

Bauji is developed as a naïve and calm character which makes us have a soft corner for him since the beginning and when he decides to change his way of living, it makes us wonder what’s waiting ahead for this poor man. After Bauji decides to take the unconventional way of living, as expected his actions are not welcomed and he is made fun of by friends, family and colleagues as well in subsequent scenes.


Bauji’s decision does not have a large scale impact as it does in films like Oh My God! or PK where the protagonist questions the whole system. But this makes Ankhon Dekhi unique as his impact remains rooted in his family and locality, making this very personal journey to him. At the beginning of his quest, the character is made to face unacceptance at each part of life namely the workplace from where he gets fired, next at home where he gets scolded because of losing his job and next at his friends and extended family he becomes a matter of laughter. But when he is facing this crisis there is a small victory for him with his nephew Ashok passing exams only because of his logical reasoning with Ashok’s teacher. He even starts to get somewhat of a small following in the locality.


Now when the things are going well, this acts as a good turning point and therefore the separation with his brother comes up here which was set up from beginning with Chachi’s silence and discomfort. This also forms the hook point for intermission. This separation acts as one major conflict.


The separation gives a huge emotional blow to Bauji and hence to show its repercussions in the coming scene the character is made to have health issues. Even to build the tension more Rishi(his separated brother) doesn’t visit him in this condition. As a counter back Bauji now stops talking, it acts as an elevation in his internal philosophical journey as well. While to keep his relevance, the followers are made to still follow him and praise his persistence. Also, there is a small scene of a kid not being able to stop speaking continuously who is also getting labelled as ‘mad’. Rajat Kapoor said this was to contrast with Bauji’s silence. At this point, Bauji decides to accept Rita-Ajju’s marriage which resolves this plot to make way for a new one in the form of Shammi’s gambling. This is used more as a gateway rather than a conflict for Bauji’s journey or story to move in a new direction.


The gambling sequence again makes his journey more personal as Bauji even though in a philosophical journey he doesn’t get into the morals of it and gambles as it gives him personal satisfaction. This also widens the gaps between him and Rishi and creates more tension. Also, to put emphasis on the conflict there is a small scene where they bump into each other but tend to ignore. To build it further up there are small scenes between their respective family members forcing both of them to meet each other. Finally, when Bauji arrives at Rishi’s house to invite him for Rita’s wedding it doesn’t end well as Rishi questions him about his gambling practice.

Confused and hurt now he confronts all of his followers to stop preaching him. This hurts the followers but this scene is placed to give somewhat an end to this journey being public, to emphasis again on this being his quest alone. The wedding place is the climax scene where the arrival of Rishi is delayed to create anxiety. After the wedding when they both hug all the conflicts until now gets resolved. This is also carried to the next scene at Shimla where Bauji tells he has no more worries and he feels lighter. The voice-over that came at the beginning comes back again, now with the visuals of him flying giving a metaphorical visual end to his journey.


On a surface level, it may look like Bauji is on his way for a revolution but it’s a very internal conflict that he is never intending to amplify to the whole world. He wants to find inner peace, wants a better understanding of his view of the world as he also says in the film, “Main mendak hoon lekin apne kuein se parichit hoon “.


Though he gets hurt immensely when his brother separates with him, which also becomes the conflict running until the end of the film. As Rajat Kapoor also tells Bauji’s journey doesn’t have a fixed direction, he is trying to explore reaching out to different forums which also lands him up into gambling. Morally what may seem incorrect is a satisfying activity for him, “sambhavnaon ka khel”.


Ankhon Dekhi just as the maker rightly says cannot be placed in any genre like philosophy or drama but must be felt like an emotional experience and a beautiful journey which is about one’s exploration of the world and self-evaluation at the same time.


Please leave your comments about our blog and what you think about the philosophical journey of Bauji in Ankhon Dekhi.
Till then let the philosophy roll!

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