Reflections: Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastaan by Saeed Mirza

Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastaan (Image Source: Flipkart)
I somehow remember hearing this movie's name in my childhood and probably could have watched a little bit of it on either tape or TV, but have no recollection of it whatsoever. The movie starts with scenes of a village somewhere in India depicting craftsmen working on various artefacts, carpets and handwork items interspersed with scenes of rural families attending to their children. Arvind Desai (Dilip Dhawan) is a son of a businessman running a store selling handmade collectibles, and the villagers shown earlier are the ones from whom he sources his wares through a broker. His father (Shriram Lagoo) is worried that the business is not doing as good as earlier and guides him a couple of times on how to run a business and even catches two of his workers cheating Arvind behind his back. Arvind has a liking for
Alice (Anjali Paigankar) but ultimately doesn't marry her because her dad fixes his marriage with someone else - a very rich girl who studied in Paris.

Om Puri is a lecturer friend of Arvind with Marxist leanings. Om Puri is intense and a revolutionary zeal is apparent on his young face. While Arvind seems tame in front of his father but dominant with Alice and his employees. He even visits a brothel a couple of times. The film, in my interpretation, is reflective of the 1970's when Cold War was at its peak with Communist leanings making inroads in Indian politics. One of the statements which I consider worth remembering is when he talks of Bombay stating that the city is so crowded and dirty and says he hates it. Then in one of the other scenes he is explaining to Alice that how they are so clean living in comfortable homes away from all the dirt and awful smells of slums.

The movie serves as a good remembrance for Mumbai of old times without the maddening rush that is present now. It also has communal overtones in the form of Arvind agreeing to increase the wages of the villagers; in the form of Om Puri confessing that he is unable to live the life he thinks of and hence there is a contradiction between his thoughts and actions. Towards the end he gets hold of a revolver of his father and accidentally shoots himself in the chest and his blood stains the carpet - the carpet made by the villagers. A movie reminiscent of old times in which nothing of importance happens during most of the time and events and incidents keep happening. The movie was not very engaging and at times I felt it lacked specific incidents corroborating the overall plot. 



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