Noted film-maker Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s early film-making reflected a lot of influence of his mentor- Bimal Roy. Portraying strong central female protagonists and complexities of their emotional worlds was Bimalda’s forte and in Anupama, Hrishi-da (as Mukherjee is fondly called!) just followed in his footsteps. No wonder, as the credits roll over in the beginning of the film, we see the film being dedicated to Bimal Roy. Anupama is a perfect example of Hrishida’s sensitive handling of a delicate emotional drama. This 1966- film talked of women’s emancipation- not in abrasively bold and brash manner but in a soft and subtle style so characteristic of Hrishida.
Mohan Sharma (Tarun Bose) is a rich businessman, hopelessly in love with his wife. His entire world collapses around him when his wife succumbs to complications of delivering their first child. The distraught father subconsciously blames the young daughter Uma for this calamity. Only in his inebriated state, he is capable of showing love and affection to the child but otherwise he maintains a stiff, stoic and loveless relationship with her. The poor daughter- in spite of her beauty and intelligence- grows up to be a shy and withdrawn youngster (Sharmila Tagore), who is incapable of uttering even a single word in presence of others.
On a family-holiday, Uma comes across Ashok (Dharmendra) – a young sensitive writer with a modern outlook. While interacting with him, she begins reanalyzing her emotions. Throughout her life, she had wrongly believed herself to be responsible for her father’s misery and had shut herself down from the world. Finding love, encouragement and acceptance for the first time in her life, Uma learns to look at life in a new way. But will she find the courage to oppose her tyrannical father’s decision to marry her off to someone else?
Sharmila Tagore delivers an exceptionally moving performance as the silent, subdued and submissive daughter, constantly in fear of her angry father. Using her beautiful face and expressive eyes, she conveys all her suppressed feelings so naturally. As a friend-philosopher-guide bringing her out of her shell, Dharmendra is just perfect. But his low key sincere performance is overshadowed by Tarun Bose’s convincingly complex portrayal of a bitter father despising his own daughter.
Kaifi Azmi’s insightful lyrics and Hemant Kumar’s superb music (with songs like Dheere Dheere Machal, Ya Dil Ki Suno and Kuchh Dilne Kaha) play their part in expressing emotional intricacies of the film.