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Middle Class was Hrishikesh Mukherjee's forte

By Shilpa Jamkhandikar in Mumbai
August 27, 2006 20:51 IST
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Film director Hrishikesh Mukherjee's biggest achievement is that he successfully uncovered the face of the vast Indian middle class with its virtues and foibles and made it universally appealing on celluloid.

From the laugh-a-minute Chupke Chupke and Golmaal to the sensitive portrayal of a young couple battling their egos in Abhimaan, Mukherjee understood the nuances that characterised the middle class of the 1970s and depicted it with great skill mixing pathos, sarcasm and objectivity.

Shorn of the glamour and glitz that is so much a part of films in today's cinema, Mukherjee's films still manage to bring a smile tears whether it is Anand's (Amitbah Bachchan's) resounding Babu Moshai that echoes in the room minutes after the character played by Rajesh Khanna is dead or Rekha's daring disregard for rules that results in disastrous consequences in Khubsoorat.

Born on September 30, 1922 in Kolkata, Mukherjee began his cinematic career as an assistant to his guru Bimal Roy in 1951 and made his directorial debut with Musafir in 1957, an interesting film hat strung together three stories in the form three sets of tenants that occupy a house at various points in time.

Success however came with his next venture Anuradha (1960), a sensitive film about a doctor who neglects his family to focus on his work, winning him the President's Gold Medal.

From then on, there was no looking back for Mukherjee.

He made Anupama, a touching film about a daughter who yearns for her father's affection, a role that earned rave reviews for Sharmila Tagore. He followed it up with Ashirwaad and Satyakaam that saw macho man and action hero Dharmendra in a totally different role.

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Shilpa Jamkhandikar in Mumbai
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