Laxmi lives a poor lifestyle in a small village in India along with her husband, Kishtaya, who is a deaf-mute. Both husband and wife work for the wealthy landlord. The landlord's son, Surya... See full summary »

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(story and scenario), (dialogue) (as Pandit Satya Dev Dubey)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Laxmi
Sadhu Meher ...
Kishtaya
Anant Nag ...
Surya
Priya Tendulkar ...
Aga Mohamed Hussain
Mirza Qadirali Baig
Hemant Jeshwant Rao
Satyanarayan ...
(as Master Satyanarayan)
Sesham Raju ...
(as Shesham Raju)
Hameed Rashid
Aslam Akhtar
Syed Yakoob
Jagat Jeevan
Prafullata Natu
Kaleem Siddiqui
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Storyline

Laxmi lives a poor lifestyle in a small village in India along with her husband, Kishtaya, who is a deaf-mute. Both husband and wife work for the wealthy landlord. The landlord's son, Surya, has to cancel his studies and return home to look after the estate, as well as formalize his marriage to Saroj, the girl he was compelled to get married to when he was very young. Shortly thereafter Kishtaya is apprehended stealing toddy from the fields, is severely beaten, left senseless, and when he recovers he absconds, leaving Laxmi alone to fend for herself. Surya finds her attractive and starts an intimate relationship with her, much to the chagrin of the rest of the family. Things only get worse when Saroj moves in to live with Surya - compelling him to make a final decision about a visibly pregnant Laxmi. Written by rAjOo (gunwanti@hotmail.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

April 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Seedling  »

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Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Connections

Featured in And the Show Goes on: Indian Chapter (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Seedling: that's where these talents have grown from.
20 July 2010 | by (Earth) – See all my reviews

Ankur is Shyam Benegal's first movie and amongst all his gems, this is one of those his name will be most associated with. The film was a unique feature of its time - real, poetic, genuine and disturbing. It did not have the songs, the melodrama, and the exaggeration one was used to see in Hindi movies. Instead it had an unusual and gripping storyline portrayed with striking maturity and realism. This film actually established a new genre within the Hindi film industry at the time, commonly known as 'New Wave Cinema', while today people use to describe it as 'Parallel Cinema'. The film was not only special in the way it was treated, but the story itself seemed to have tackled themes which till date are categorised as social taboos in Indian cinema, whether it's adultery or sexual frustration. The film's writers use symbolism to convey the story and many interesting paradoxes and ironies.

Ankur tells the story of Lakshmi, a young and serious village woman who works as a housemaid in the landlord's house and who is married to a deaf-mute man who keeps drinking. She sets on an affair with the landlord's son, Surya, who came to the village on his father's insistence to run the family business. From the very beginning of his staying there, he gets very attracted to Lakshmi. After being accused of stealing, Lakshmi's husband gets publicly humiliated by the villagers and later disappears. That's when Lakshmi and Surya's interaction grows and becomes constant. Their relationship, however, ends soon as Surya's young bride comes home. Lakshmi finds out that she is pregnant and Surya refuses to accept her, as he has also been persuaded by his wife to throw her out. A pregnant Lakshmi finds herself all alone struggling for survival, until one day her husband returns with a clear intention to make amends, very happy to find his wife's state but little knowing that he is not her child's father.

Benegal's direction is outstanding. He captures the rustic, simple and raw atmosphere of the village with all its cultural customs which would seem peculiar to people not familiar with this kind of lifestyle. He just pays attention to the smallest of details, and that's what makes it so extremely realistic. Whether it's the serene narrative style, the way the proceedings are unfolded, or the way the characters are brought out on screen, all these aspects contribute to this and manage to make the film tense and thrilling. The character of Lakshmi, for instance, is presented as an extraordinary beauty amongst the many ordinary-looking people in the movie, and the viewer can really see why a bored Surya can't take his eyes off her. Ankur is very matter-of-fact in its depiction. It is brutally honest and not even once does it feel sugarcoated or unconvincing. The film's dialogues are fantastic, especially those towards the end.

The brightest spot of this movie and the main reason it tugs at your heartstrings is unquestionably Shabana Azmi's powerhouse performance. Ankur is actually her first role, and it still ranks amongst the finest works of her illustrious career. Portraying her role with depth and sincerity, Azmi manages to convey a lot with just sitting silent in front of the camera. Her facial expressions, body language and line delivery are exemplary. Lakshmi draws the audience's sympathy despite being pretty unlikable. She hardly smiles once throughout the film, and looks indifferent to her surroundings, yet the viewers may really feel for her as they see her despair, her non-verbal pain and grief, her inner conflict, her daily struggles and ultimately her conscience and guilt feelings. It goes without saying that Azmi's emotional outbursts towards the end are superbly acted and moving. This one is an all-time great performance by a talent that is even greater.

Apart from Azmi who owns the show from start to finish, the acting in the movie is roundly natural. Anant Nag as Surya does a very good job. Sadhu Meher is excellent as Lakshmi's helpless and loving husband. Priya Tendulkar too performs well. The last few scenes of the movie are very intense and heartbreaking. The ending is by far one of the best endings I've seen in a Hindi film - meaningful, unusual and thought-provoking - descriptions which would be perfectly used to describe the film itself. Ankur, to put it simply in just a few words, is one gem of a movie.


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