Who having heard the hauntingly beautiful song Meri Bheegi Bheegi Si from the 1973 Hindi film Anamika (Sanjeev Kumar, Jaya Bhaduri now Jaya Bachchan) once can ever forget it.
We drew as much pleasure from viewing Anamika last week as we did when we first watched it in a different age, different country and a different continent.
As a distraught Sanjeev Kumar (Kishore Kumar actually) sings the song Meri Bheegi Bheegi Si, his muse and the source of his sorrow Jaya Bhaduri stands close by, looking angelically beautiful as never before in a pale white saree with a golden border.
In this scene, Guddi girl Jaya was a radiant vision.
Jaya Bhaduri had oodles of acting talent and an endearing – and enduring – appeal, factors completely missing in her pretty daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai, who is all sizzle and no steak.
Our protagonist in Anamika Devendar Dutt (Sanjeev Kumar), a popular novelist, is an embittered misogynist having been jilted at the altar a few years earlier.
So when Devendar and his uncle come across a young girl falling out of a car on a dark night, Devendar’s first impulse is to call the police and have nothing to do with the injured girl. But his uncle (A.K.Hangal) prevails upon him to show some humanitarian considerations to the injured girl.
So they take the girl home, get her treated and then a twist develops.
Much to Devendar’s immense chagrin, the girl wakes up in his house claiming to be his wife. The doctor (Iftekar) diagnoses the nameless girl’s (Anamika, the source of the movie’s title) ailment as amnesia.
As time goes by and tacitly encouraged by his uncle, Devendar’s resistance to the girl wilts and he falls in love with this lovely girl.
But fate rears its cruel head again when doubts are raised that the young lady is already married or worse, that she is a whore.
What is the truth? Who is this nameless woman Anamika? Is she Archana or is she Kanchan? Is she a married woman? Or is she a whore?
Asrani provides the comic aspects (much of it crass) as Sanjeev Kumar’s hard-of-hearing assistant, forever fantasizing of girls be it the servant maid at home or the doctor’s assistant.
Besides Meri Bheegi Bheegi Si, the other nice songs in Anamika include Aaj Ki Raat, Logo Na Maro and Bahon Mein Chale Aao.
We were bowled over by the picturization of the song/dance Aaj Ki Raat featuring Helen (Salman Khan’s stepmother) as she waits for her beloved in the rain when she is attacked by a bad guy with a disfigured face.
Both Jaya Bhaduri and Sanjeev Kumar turned in memorable performances in Anamika.
A fine actor, Sanjeev Kumar’s premature death in 1985 was a huge loss to Indian movie-lovers.
Although he had an important role in the Bollywood classic Sholay, truth be said we loved Sanjeev Kumar more in Anamika than in Sholay or any of the dozen or so movies we’ve seen featuring this fine actor.
In a Bollywood full of ugly asses, Sanjeev Kumar was the rare thoroughbred.
N.B: If you live in the U.S., Anamika is available from Netflix.