Indeed, Aakhri Khat, in many ways epitomises Chetan Anand’s sensibilities. Following an infant with his camera as he wandered through Mumbai’s lanes and stumbled into the most unlikeliest of places, Anand brings onto the screen a kind of candidness that was a trademark of his later films. “Even though, Aakhri Khat seems to be a simple film, a true student of cinema will realize that it was actually a biting comment on the loss of innocence in the new, fast-growing material world,” Ketan explains.
Chetan Anand- The Poetics of Film, which was also screened at the Stuttgart Film Festival, was made by Ketan because he and his family thought that it’s high time the genius of Chetan Anand is recognized. “My mother felt that something needed to be done to honour one of Hindi cinema’s pioneering filmmakers and introduce the new generation to his aspirations and ambitions. The work he did at a time when India as a nation was coming into being, post-independence, and which was accomplished despite all the pitfalls he faced was indeed commendable,” Ketan informs.
The film focusses on Anand’s professional life, but steers clear of all the controversies that plagued his illustrious career, including the relationship with his protégé, Priya Rajvansh. “There is no Page 3 nonsense in this film. As the title suggests, it is an academic approach to his craft,” says Ketan. The film also uses extensive on-camera insights from Hema Malini (who starred in Kudrat), Dharmendra ( Haqeeqat), Farouque Shaikh (Paramveer Chakra), Kamini Kaushal (Neecha Nagar) and of course, Chetan’s actor-brother Dev Anand amongst others. “His colleagues and friends talk about Chetan Anand’s craft,” he adds.
His own career, Ketan admits has been chequered albeit fruitful one. “ I have made films which I think were interesting. In 1985 I made the Naseeruddin Shah-Shabana Azmi starrer Sharth, which was later reworked by Yash Chopra as Darr. Maybe it was a bit ahead of its times,” claims Anand. Today, he is working on yet another “interesting” subject. “It’s a film based on my own script. The drama unfolds on a stormy night at a desolate Petrol Pump station where skeletons tumble out of cupboards,” he says.
Coming from a family of stalwart—filmmakers Vijay Anand and Dev Anand are his uncles—makes Ketan a tad critical of the present crop of filmmakers. “This young chap Shriram Raghavan claims that he is a fan of Vijay Anand, and Johnny Gaddar is a tribute to my uncle. I’ve seen the film and I must admit it has been very stylishly made. But he must realise that Vijay Anand’s films were not just about style. He made films where the protagonists were good-hearted human beings, and not scheming villains,” he states.