Anita might be a good film. The only thing is: the SUBTITLES! SUCKED!! They came on five-ten seconds after the dialogue or scene had ended; sometimes flashed so briefly that there was no way to read them; and very often there were large gaps where single words would just show up occasionally. Because the story was fairly complex (a murder/suicide/reincarnation/multiple personality/ghost story) I had a headache in no time.
And I became distracted by mostly irrelevant details (as you will see). Luckily there were plenty of irrelevant details to entertain, but still. As I said—I think properly understood, this might be a good film. I wish I knew for sure. The music is certainly delightful!
Directed by Raj Khosla in his inimitable style (lots of mirrors and windows), it is the story of a girl named Anita (Sadhana) and Neeraj who loves her (Manoj Kumar). As the story opens, Anita is lying on a plush carpet surrounded by film magazines. Outside, Neeraj serenades her with a pretty song—“Gore Gore.”
Anita’s wealthy father (Sajjan) doesn’t approve of Neeraj, however, and has gotten her engaged to Anil Sharma (Kishan Mehta). Anita almost marries Neeraj in a registry office but her father stops her; and when Neeraj goes to her home afterwards she refuses to speak to him.
He leaves town in distress, but receives a letter from her a few days later saying that she and her “respect” are in danger. He returns to Bombay immediately, only to be told that she is dead (at least that’s what I surmise from what followed…the subtitles never did show up).
One of these days I’m going to do a post on the most common subtitle errors, like quite=quiet. See? Distracted.
Anyway, Anil and Anita’s father tell him that she committed suicide when she discovered that she was pregnant. Neeraj is aghast—this is not the Anita he knew and loved. Anil tells Neeraj that Anita was strange sometimes; once for a masquerade party, she dressed up as a tribal girl and was found dancing shamelessly with a group of gypsies (another nice song “Picchware Buddha Khansta”).
Confronted by her father and Anil, she fainted and was taken to a doctor. The diagnosis: split personality.
Personality switches are brought on by a change of clothing??! I must ask my shrink friends about this. Or my friend Ed, who actually does have multiple personality disorder.
Ah yes, the increasingly-hard-to-follow story. Anil sends Neeraj to see a painter friend of his, who also witnessed this kind of bizarre behavior in Anita and *gasp* had an actual affair with her as evidenced by this portrait:
The painter (IS Johar) confirms what Anil has said, and tells his story. He met Anita in a bar, where she was drunk and sang a song.
This third sighting is heretofore undocumented on the Internet, I think, at least I have been unable to discover much about them. I rewind over and over to watch the 30 seconds they are on screen with three white guys gyrating in front of them. Hilarious!
Bewildered by this information, and unwilling to let go of Anita yet, Neeraj decides to hire a private detective (Dhumal) to look into her suicide. You have to love the office notice board:
And if not that, then this:
Neeraj hires him. Then a few days later as he is walking through an old fort on the beach, he sees—Anita! Several long minutes of screeching violins and pounding snare drums accompany this, adding to the subtitle-induced headache.
Shocked, he follows her to a creepy old mansion, where she disappears. He starts “seeing” her everywhere now, but it always turns out to be someone else when he gets close enough to speak.
I am now pleasantly distracted by a comic side plot in which Dhumal is hired by Tun Tun to find her missing husband. When he asks her for her measurements she hilariously replies “51-62-77” and they all crack up.
So do I.
When Neeraj tells the detectives and the police that he has seen Anita, they put it down to grief and wishful thinking, and send him off for some R and R to Nainital where his brother lives. The scenery is beautiful, including a paisley-shaped lake (and a delayed subtitle from another scene).
One day Neeraj is picnicking with his brother and his bhabhi, and goes off to get some water. You guessed it!—he sees Anita, now dressed as a devotee (subtitles say “mendicant”). She is singing and doesn’t seem happy.
When he approaches her, she tells him that her name is “Maya Mendicant.” Really! She doesn’t know him, but agrees to meet him the next day in the same place. She does so, but is so distressed by his obvious pain that she doesn’t come back again. This prompts him to sing the lovely “Tum Bin Jeevan.”
He parks himself under a banyan tree, where his brother and bhabhi find him (he’s been missing for two days). He tells them about Maya and they ask to meet her. Up at the temple, a priest says that there’s no devotee there, but when Neeraj says her name, he takes them to a burned-out house with a plaque on it (not subtitled, but if someone wants to translate it for me I’d be grateful).
I eventually figure out that Maya died twenty years earlier. Or maybe thirty, depending on who you ask.
Neeraj decides to go home. But who does he see on the train? A woman wearing a burkha and Anita’s gold anklets! He rips off her head covering.
She says she will tell him everything but as he sits down, the train goes into a tunnel. When it comes back out into the light, she has disappeared again (we see her hiding in the toilet). Back at home, Detective Dhumal is exasperated by Neeraj’s tale.
He and his assistant show Neeraj the post-mortem report. It clearly states that her body had been in the water for ten days before it was found, meaning she committed suicide on March 28th. But Neeraj remembers that he received a letter from her dated April 2nd. They go to the police, who verify the letter with a handwriting expert.
I love the board behind the superintendent. Theft, robbery, kidnapping and murder appear to be the only things they worry about…oh yes, the four points.
They all agree that it is now a murder case, and Anita is involved somehow. The superintendent sends two cops (named Peter and Jeff. Really!) to stake out Neeraj’s house, since they are convinced she will try to contact him again.
What is going on? Is Anita in trouble? Can Neeraj and Peter and Jeff save her? Have Ted Lyons & His Cubs been in any other films? Can whoever is responsible for subtitling this film be fired?
Here are some other minor points I enjoyed.
Imdb claims that Helen is in this film, but she isn’t. It’s Madhumati, who is often confused for Helen (with Bela Bose on the right).
I want to be a Hindi film set designer! Look at this front entrance!
Did I mention Ted Lyons and His Cubs? :-D