How can I persuade you to see a film called In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones? Let me start by explaining the title. Annie isn’t a woman. It’s a man named Anand who has spent four years in fifth year at an architecture school in Delhi. The year is 1974. And ‘those ones’ refers to Annie’s outlandish schemes to use his education to benefit society – like planting trees alongside railway lines which would then be fertilized by all the good folks taking a shit on the train. I’m not making this up.

This is a National Award-winning film directed by Pradip Krishen, written by Arundhati Roy and produced by – believe it or not – Doordarshan in 1989. The dialogue is a mix of Hindi and English with a smattering of Punjabi. Characters smoke up a storm. There is a kissing scene and the film is firmly on the side of the students. The villain of the piece is the sadistic principal, played by Roshan Seth. The students call him Yamdoot. Yamdoot often starts talking to his students with – My Dear Donkey.

This is a story about the rawness and vulnerability of youth and Pradip Krishen narrates it with warmth and immense affection

Annie has a wonderful grungy vibe. The story is set in the days leading up to the final submissions. So everyone is up through the night but there is as much laughter and table-tennis as there is work. Arundhati plays Radha, the bohemian who smokes beedis and matches a sari with a hat. You can get a glimpse of the fiery essayist that Arundhati would become late into the film when Radha has to defend her thesis. She speaks about citizens and non-citizens while the bored committee orders dinner.

Annie is warm and funny and so laid back that it feels more like an extended home video than a film. This is a story about the rawness and vulnerability of youth and Pradip narrates it with warmth and immense affection. The camera snakes in and out of hostel rooms, classrooms, the canteen and also the police station because of course, at some point, Annie must end up there.

In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones played once at midnight on Doordarshan and then disappeared. But the happy news is that you can find it on YouTube. Did I mention that it also stars Shah Rukh Khan? This was his first ever film.

Check it out. There is so much to love.


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