Anand And The Bliss Of A Short-Lived Friendship

The duration of their friendship might have been momentary but the impact it has is momentous
Anand And The Bliss Of A Short-Lived Friendship

Most friendships eventually turn out to be echo chambers. We drift towards a group of people we are most comfortable with - people who resonate with our thoughts and mirror our views. Consequently, most friendships also end up floating at the surface level. Impactful friendships are the ones that make us venture out of our comfort zones, stretch beyond our perceived limitations, and turn us into better versions of ourselves. Just as in life, complementary characters also make the most interesting friendships from a screenplay perspective. The friendship between the titular Anand (Rajesh Khanna) and Dr. Bhaskar Banerjee (a pre superstardom Amitabh Bachchan) from the Hrishikesh Mukherjee film is one such glowing example of onscreen friendship.

Anand Sehgal, a terminally ill patient, enters the life of Dr.Bhaskar when the latter is disillusioned with work and life. Anand diagnoses Bhaskar’s problem in the very first meeting. That his anger is directed at his own helplessness. Anand comes to him for treatment but by the closing act has successfully cured the good doctor from this melancholic state of mind. What Anand craves is some semblance of a family and companionship in the last phase of his life. Bhaskar, a loner himself, ends up being that companion. Anand gives Bhaskar the elixir of life and Bhaskar in turn provides him the dignity in death. They complete each other.

Anand And The Bliss Of A Short-Lived Friendship
The Everyday Magic of Hrishikesh Mukherjee

The beauty of Anand (the film) is in the way Hrishikesh Mukherjee has developed this arc of friendship in parallel with the change in Bhaskar’s outlook. In their first meeting, Bhaskar is borderline irritated with Anand’s optimism and penchant for life. He refuses to look at Anand’s report. The pragmatist in him knows that the disease is at an incurable stage. With time, as their bond grows and Anand becomes an inseparable part of his existence, Bhaskar starts wishing for miracles and even looks towards alternative medicine to save his friend. Anand thus brings into his life something that was hitherto missing: hope. This is the eternal gift that gets passed in this brief period of friendship.

Anand, to me, is one of the best onscreen portrayal of friendship. Primarily because of relatability and its closeness to reality. We might never team up with a friend to take down dacoits but most of us would have been part of friendships that changed us for the better. I have had friends who have entered my life for brief moments of time and left long lasting footprints even though the nature of life itself made us drift away from each other. These situations have often made me think about the movie and its protagonists. The duration of their friendship might have been momentary but the impact it has on Bhaskar is momentous. Anand leaves Bhaskar with a life lesson - “Babu Moshai Zindagi Badi honi chahiye, lambi nahi” . If you look deeper, he also passes on another unsaid truth about friendship: Dosti gehri honi chahiye, lambi nahi. It is the depth of (and joy in) friendship that counts and not necessarily the vintage.

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