Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastaan [1978]

 Diverse existential shades – from ennui and dilemma to crisis and even angst – were at the forefront in Saeed Akhtar Mirza’s absorbing and ironically titled debut film Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastaan. It was laced with a tantalizing dose of stylistic confidence, lazy elegance, offbeat charm, wry political commentary, and a simmering expression of individual and societal malaise. And, alongside that, it provided a rapturous ode to the myriad hues and locales of the city of Bombay – local trains and taxis, bustling thoroughfares and rainwashed lanes, street performers and pedestrians, stacked chawls and art deco houses, cricket ground and seafront promenade – with deadpan lyricism. Its titular hero, Arvind Desai (Dilip Dhawan), is a lost guy grappling for straws while striving to resolve the contradictions that surround him. He’s the scion of a wealthy businessman (Shriram Lagoo) from whom he’s bequeathed an elite store that deals in luxury handicraft items and expensive carpets. He’s not averse to displaying his privilege, though ostensibly disinterested in it; he wallows in riches – driving in his Fiat, visiting expensive restaurants, mirroring the period’s fashion – despite his fledgling political and class consciousness, as evidenced by the loaded questions he posits to his intellectual Marxist college friend (Om Puri); and he’s in a casual relationship with his secretary (Anjali Paigankar), while also occasionally visiting a seedy brothel. This, therefore, was a melancholic, reflective work made palpably personal by the understated tone, deliberate pacing, underlying sense of befuddlement and entrancing soundtrack that alternated between a quirky score during the beginning and end credits – which also portrayed the impoverished lives of those who make the expensive carpets and handloom products – and haunting jazz riffs that accompanied the Bombay vistas.






Director: Saeed Akhtar Mirza

Genre: Drama/Existential Drama/Urban Drama

Language: Hindi

Country: India

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