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Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi was a 1966 film, but it speaks to the crisis in journalism today

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The film is based on the relationship between an editor and a proprietor, and is a love-triangle melodrama set around the newsroom.

Journalists are not getting too much love across the world at this point in time. The demand is not just of more accountability, but also perhaps to destroy the journalistic establishment as it exists today.

This is where director Shaheed Latif’s 1966 film Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi speaks to the prevailing all-consuming atmosphere of distrust.

The film is based on the relationship between an editor and a proprietor, and is a love-triangle melodrama set around the newsroom.

Jitendra Gupta (Dharmendra), a reporter, publishes a report on the owners of a corrupt coal mine without the approval of his editor. The owners of the mine have influence over the board of Jagriti (an obvious name for a Hindi film newspaper in the post-Independence era) and try to force the daughter of its founder and current managing director Amita (Mala Sinha) to take action against the ‘errant’ reporter.

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Here’s an interesting experiment. Try watching the movie’s boardroom scene alongside the initial scenes in Steven Spielberg’s The Post (2017). In the Hollywood journalism drama, the proprietor played by Meryl Streep, based on a real person, is presented as a timid owner who has to learn how to deal with the board. Latif’s fictional Amita, on the other hand, stands her own ground and doesn’t give in an inch to anyone. Maybe the difference is due to the fantastical nature of fiction, and the numerous possibilities in character development.

Amita throws the reporter out over indiscipline, only to put him on course towards her own younger sister Sunita (Tanuja).

Love blossoms between the two – after all who can resist the appeal of a ‘60s Dharmendra. But when the mine collapses, Amita understands the truth about Jitendra’s report. She quickly appoints him as the news editor in what is perhaps the fastest promotion in Indian journalism history.

The triangle is complete when Amita also falls in love with him.

Towards the end, through convoluted plot mechanics, Jitendra is set to establish a fresh newspaper, unburdened by a ‘demanding’ board – an enterprise that every reporter dreams of even today.

There are details about the profession and the people who show what it takes to bring the truth to readers. When he is expelled, Jitendra tersely responds to Amita saying, “Suna tha aapke pitaaji ke zamaane me ye akhbar janta ke liye, sachchai ke liye ladta tha, pata na tha beti ke raj me wahi akhbar daulat ke haathon bik chukka hai (I’d heard that this paper fought for truth and the people under your father. Didn’t know it became a sell-out under you).”

It was probably this seething honesty that prompted Amita, on hearing about the mine’s collapse, to frankly remark, “Satya ki jai ho! Baba ka diya hua ye adarsh ab sirf dikhave ke liye hi reh gaya hai shayad (The motto of this paper to fight for the truth is probably only in name now).”

But no, this is not All The President’s Men (1976).

Also read: Try watching ‘Satyakam’ in the age of post-truth, fake news and incorruptible leaders

There are some melodious tracks by music composer O.P. Nayyar, including the title track, written by poet Kaifi Azmi, and sung by Mahendra Kapoor. Even the ‘60s staple love-triangle-over-piano song is there — Aapke Haseen Rukh Pe, written by Anjaan and sung by Mohammad Rafi.

Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi starts off with ‘Guru Dutt’s last offering’ as its first title card. The film was supposed to star Guru Dutt. And this film, produced in his name, has all the elements of a Guru Dutt film, including an entirely inconsequential song picturised on Johnny Walker. Dharmendra, the conscientious charmer from the decade, replaced Dutt after his tragic death.

The independence of news operations is crucial for the integrity of the business of journalism. From Jeff Bezos-owned The Washington Post to every private publication the world over, the fight is to retain the quest for accountability, with or without the support of owners.

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Latif manages to say something important about this requirement of journalism, even in a movie where these concerns were merely a stage to mount the love-triangle. It was after all a time when only romance interested Bombay filmmakers.

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