Mithya Talkies’ Ankhon Dekhi is the story of a lower middle-class family of Delhi. Raja alias Bauji (Sanjay Mishra) and Rishi (Rajat Kapoor) are brothers, living in a small house in Delhi with their respective families. Bauji has a wife, Pushpa (Seema Pahwa), a daughter, Rita (Maya Sarao), and a son, Shammi (Chandrachoor Rai). Rishi has a wife, Lata (Taranjit Kaur) and a son, Ashok (Chaitanya Mahawar).
Rita loves a boy, Ajju (Namit Das), but the family doesn’t approve of him because people don’t have a very good opinion of him. The elders in the family reprimand her for meeting him and warn her to stay away from him but her father, Bauji, asks them not to form any opinion about him or, for that matter, about anybody else unless they’ve concrete proof of what they believe. Soon, Bauji even starts following the philosophy that seeing is believing. In pursuance of that philosophy, he even resigns from his job because he does not want to ‘cheat’ his clients by telling them anything unless he himself has cent per cent proof of what he is talking about.
Younger brother Rishi and his wife are peeved that Bauji has quit his job. Soon, Rishi announces his decision to separate with his family and, much against Bauji’s wish, starts living separately with wife Lata and son Ashok. The shock of separation of the two families is too much for Bauji to bear and he falls sick. Soon, Bauji stops talking and, out of choice, prefers to talk to everybody only in sign language. He has a coterie of friends of all age groups, who support him in whatever he does.
Days progress. One day, Bauji visits Gopi (Danish Hussain), the owner of a gambling den, to whom his son, Shammi, owes money. Bauji returns part of the amount owed and asks for some time to repay the balance. He soon develops a good rapport with Gopi who even initiates him into gambling. Since Bauji picks up the game of cards very fast, Gopi actually gives him a job in the gambling den.
On the home front, the tension between Bauji and Rishi has escalated over time because Bauji is still unable to come to terms with Rishi having walked out on him, and also because Rishi is embarrassed by Bauji’s actions including gambling and generally making a laughing stock of himself because of his philosophy which he has by then started advocating in public.
One day, Bauji grants his daughter permission to marry Ajju. The wedding preparations are underway in full swing. While Bauji’s friends and relatives help in organising things for the marriage, Rishi keeps away from the family although wife Lata does help. It is not even clear whether Bauji will heed wife Pushpa’s advice and extend an invitation to younger brother Rishi to attend Rita’s marriage. It is also equally unclear if Rishi will heed his wife’s advice and attend the marriage like a good uncle.
So what happens finally? Is Rishi invited by Bauji for the wedding? Does Rishi attend his niece’s wedding? Is the marriage solemnised? Does Bauji continue with his philosophy and does he continue working for Gopi in the gambling den?
Rajat Kapoor’s story is disjointed because it moves on different tracks at different times. Bauji’s philosophy of seeing is believing is sacrificed midway for his philosophy of talking in sign language. Why he starts gambling and how he gets convinced so easily about gambling for a living is not explained. The screenplay, also penned by Rajat Kapoor, is very real and has heart-touching and comical moments. The screenplay gives the impression that Rajat has seen the middle-class life in minute detail because he has presented the lifestyle and the securities and insecurities of a lower middle-class Delhi family beautifully. In fact, the ambience created by Kapoor is so outstanding that it sometimes makes up for the lack of a cohesive drama. The performances of the actors also add to the enjoyment of the audience. Rajat Kapoor’s dialogues are superb and go supremely well with the film’s mood. But the fact remains that the traditional audience will find the lack of a cohesive script too much of a problem area.
Sanjay Mishra does a superb job as Bauji and acts with effortless ease. Seema Pahwa is first-rate as Pushpa. She plays the character so naturally that one can’t but admire her. Rajat Kapoor is lovely and his understated acting makes its mark. Taranjit Kaur performs well as Lata. Maya Sarao looks pretty and delivers a realistic performance as Rita. Namit Das leaves a mark in a brief role. Chandrachoor Rai does well as Shammi. Brijendra Kala excels as Shibbu Babu. Alka Chatwal makes her presence felt as Bua. Manu Rishi Chadha has his moments; he is natural to the core. Shrikant Verma (as Masterji), Mahesh Sharma (as Baooa), Anil Chaudhary (as Chaudhary Sahab), Manish Karnatak (as Jeevan), Dhruv Singh (as Dhruv), Danish Hussain (as Gopi), Yogendra Tiku (as the pandit), Chetan Sharma (as Anil) and Naresh Gossain (as Ajju’s father) provide excellent support. Chaitanya Mahawar (as Ashok), Shivam Sethi (as Arun), Suman Chowdhry (as Ajju’s mother), Sandip Chowdhry (as the doctor), Munish Bhardwaj (as Manish), Jia Bhardwaj (as Jia), Mukesh Kumar (as Satya), Bittoo Ishwar Chhabra (as Bittoo Bhaiya) and the rest are okay.
Rajat Kapoor’s direction is lovely but the fact remains that the film is too philosophical and would appeal to a very thin section of the audience. Kapoor deserves kudos for recreating the atmosphere and ambience brilliantly and for extracting excellent work out of his actors. Sagar Desai’s music is fair while his background music is effective. Varun Grover’s lyrics are okay. Rafey Mahmood’s cinematography is of a good standard. Javed-Ejaz’s action scenes are functional. Meenal Agarwal’s sets are very realistic. Editing (by Suresh Pai) is sharp.
On the whole, Ankhon Dekhi is a well-made and well-enacted film but too philosophical and just too class-appealing. It will, therefore, not be able to score in the cinemas.