'Anaarkali of Aarah': Movie Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Anaarkali of Aarah, Swara Bhaskar, Pankaj Tripathi

Anaarkali of Aarah is the story of a female singer notorious for singing double meaning, erotic songs. The role, essayed by Swara Bhaskar, has a strong feministic appeal. Written and directed by journalist turned filmmaker Avinash Das, Anaarkali of Aarah endeavors to highlight the hypocrisies and double standards prevalent in our society. Anaarkali of Aarah co-stars Pankaj Tripathi and Sanjay Mishra. In this article, we will look at various aspects of Anaarkali of Aarah that make is a unique watch.

Swara plays a challenging character in the movie. Her triumph at accurately bringing out the character’s complexities is what adds considerable credibility to the character. Vintage Swara Bhaskar, the character of Anaarkali doesn’t merely look a figment of imagination but a real person in fresh and blood. A lesser actress could have made the character of Anaarkali look vulgar but Swara essays her part with grace and elegance. She is exceptionally good in the melodramatic song and dance sequences.    

It is said that once a journalist always a journalist. Avinash Das has proven the proverb right. While watching Anaarkali of Aarah one can easily figure out the kind of research that must have gone into it. Credit goes to Das for making an entertaining film out of a real life story. Whether it is a filmmaker or a journalist it is the ability to tell a story in the manner that it reaches far and wide is what makes the difference.  Kudos to Das and team for getting it right on both the creative and technical fronts!

Anaarkali of Aarah, Swara Bhaskar, Sanjay Mishra

For a hero or a heroine to look good the villain has to be a real baddie. Sanjay Mishra here obliges with a menacing performance that provides the character of Anaarkali with the perfect foil. One expects nothing but the best from a thespian of Mishra’s stature but delivering every time around is not a cinch. In Anaarkali of Aarah, Mishra not only succeeds in doing justice to the character penned down by the director but he also manages to leave a few of his characteristic impressions that his fans wouldn’t find it difficult to spot. At the same time if we look at his career his performance in Anaarkali of Aarah would come across as a quite unique.  

There is no denying that Pankaj Tripathi is one of the finest character actors of our generation. He is one of those rare actors who are capable of leaving a lasting impression even while making cameo appearances.  Perhaps, Masaan is a great example of what Tripathi is capable of doing in front of the motion picture camera in a matter in a matter of few minutes. In Anaarkali of Aarah, he plays a very complex character. His caricature may look simple to some at first sight but a closer observation reveals various complexities associated with the character as well as the manner in which Tripathi essays it. Needless to say, his chemistry with Swara Bhaskar is a treat to watch.

Anaarkali of Aarah, Swara Bhaskar, Sanjay Mishra, Pankaj Tripathi, entire cast of the film

Anaarkali of Aarah can be described as a story of a female artist who takes the fight to a male dominated society which objectifies women. The movie’s protagonist, Anaarkali, is a singular female character in Hindi cinema that despite her overt sexuality has no space for apology. In the words of Swara Bhaskar herself: “That's precisely where Anaarkali is unique. She has no qualms about what she does. It is from here the conversations starts.” Anaarkali of Aarah is the first film since Basu Bhattacharaya’s Teesri Kasam (1966), starring Raj Kapoor and Waheeda Rehman, to focus on the world of orchestra party.

One of the USPs of Anaarkali of Aarah is its strong feministic stand. It is a rarity these days for mainstream Bollywood films to focus on important issues like women empowerment and gender equality. It is really heartening to see Anaarkali of Aarah stand tall in its commitment towards spreading awareness about these critical issues.

Rating: 8/10

A version of this review was first published in Wittyfeed.

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!  

Anaarkali of Aarah Trailer (YouTube)

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