In this season of writers returning their literary awards as a mark of protest, I am reminded of this brilliant film by Gobind Nihalani made three decades back. It is amazing how reel captured real life that was to unfold so tellingly. The last sequence is one of the most haunting I have seen in the cinemas. Though apparently the situation here is slightly different, but if one digs deeper the similarities are bound to strike you. It shows what it takes to win literary awards and how the State throttles activists and social workers whose politics are not in consonant with the one propounded by the State.
Gist: A group of people meet to celebrate conferment of a literary award on a writer and debate on social issues in a social gathering. The hollowness of their lives is gradually unfolded before the viewers. A poet and crusading activist (Naseeruddin Shah) for tribal’s right who keeps getting mentioned throughout the film without actually being shown is finally given a sequence which informs us that he was killed by the Govt. machinery which wanted to usurp the land from the tribal. A motley group of characters – an alcoholic ex-theatre actress (Rohini Hattangandy in a superb performance) caught in a loveless marriage with an eminent writer (Manohar Singh) & unable to forget her past flame, a brilliant Shakespearean Theatre actor (Shafi Inamdar), a wannabe writer (K. K. Raina)becoming the object of affection of Brinda, a cigarette puffing woman of high society social circuits, the hostess (Vijaya Mehta) of the party and the strained relation with her daughter (Deepa Sahi), a journalist (Om Puri) who was accompanying the activist when he was attacked, a woman (Soni Razdan) who flirts with a young guy goes back to her husband (Mohan Bhandari) & several other characters populate the proceedings.
The cast also includes Amrish Puri as a good friend of the hostess, Pearl Padamsree as a magazine editorBenjamin Gilani and others. The entire film is centred around a single house party , barring a couple of sequences of Mumbai life and the Arabian Sea. The finest sequence is the concluding one in the film, where the slain activist (also a writer) appears to haunt the two writers in the film (Manohar Singh & K. K. Raina) obviously highlighting the perils of writers and activists from airing their views. While a character in the film argues that famous writer Lorca took up the gun during Spanish uprising, other characters debate the relationship between politics and writers. This is a fine commentary on the plight of writers in present day society.The film is directed by Gobind Nihalani. Rating: 4.2 out of 5