Aastha: In the Prison of Spring (1997) Poster

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A movie with a message, not made convincingly!
Mausam6 November 2002
Its a story of a lower middle class happy nuclear family. The lady of the family gets involved in prostitution, owing to the not so good financial condition of the family. It is the story of the guilt that comes with the money and the cobweb that such a route entails that its quite an effort to come out of the profession once one enters it.

This movie has many things to take it from, but lets first discuss the story line. The story line is quite weak at times. The most important scene of her starting all this is unconvincingly shown. However one may argue (and I argued the same thing with myself when I saw it the second time) that this is how it looks like if someone watches a real person go through all this. It feels unconvincing. And thats how it feels in the movie.

But other than some of that, the movie and many dialogues have far reaching connotations. The movie talks about man's endless desire to acquire, rather beautifully. It tries to separate needs and conveniences. It also touches on the sexual imbalance existing between couples. One line that I always remember from this movie goes something like this "Slowly and slowly husbands and wives start sharing their habits much more than they share their thoughts and this distances them".

Anyhow, this is a not a great one, but a worth see anyway. It might not be the full money's worth but it might initiate a much needed thought process.
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A female version of Seven Years Itch with a Bollywood twist
masudalam22 October 2003
Rekha as I never saw before. The scene where she is seduced into prostitution is titillating, not just for its visual appeal but also for the way Rekha does it. She is just as unconventional with other love scenes. Just shows a female movie star in India only comes of age when she comes of age. And that too if she is someone like Rekha, who'd show emotions rather than her cleavage or thighs. A totally Rekha movie, never mind the director, producer, and Om Puri.
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Interesting and intriguing
masudalam11 May 2003
Aastha is not your standard 'art film' though it seems like one, specially seeing Om Puri's name in the credits. This is a film that starts out great - brilliant cast, good story line, ok direction - but then it kind of fails to do all that it set out to achieve. Nevertheless it has its moments that you won't forget. My favourite is the scene where Rekha - playing a housewife next door - gives in to the advances of Navin ... who would turn out to be her first customer in a career of prostitution she chose unwillingly. Rekha is wonderful, and so is Om Puri. The only aspect that weakens the film is the story itself. Its not very convincing at the crucial moments, and there are some obvious directorial misjudgments. But its still a film you must watch.
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Good But not best
mitra-raj9 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Movie story is unconvincing,how a housewife become a prostitute. Direction is poor and director extracted out every expression from Rekha as there is no skin show in the movie. Om Puri seem to play a character in the movie without portfolio. Rekha has done a movie in her last leading actress performing movie, without showing any skin her expression during sex with Navin and Om Puri in movie is so natural which will make you think once that she is actually making enjoyable and satisfying intercourse. also other background stories are there.How a student of her husband caught her red handed when Rekha was going to serve a customer sexually. In the end Om puri forgive Rekha for being a prostitute. Not a bad movie to watch
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So updated, innovative and progressive treatment ever shown in a Basu Bhattacharya's film
I-Am-The-Movie-Addict13 August 2017
So updated, innovative and progressive treatment ever shown in a Basu Bhattacharya's film that you would consider that there are rarely some film in erotic romantic in our Indian cinema.

And it is hard to forget how lead and main actors like Rekha, Om Puri, Dinesh Thakur, Daisy Irani, Navin Nischol, Anwesha Bhattacharya, Sagar Arya, Shruti Patel, and many among others act and maintain the level between being sexual and overly real pimps and prostitutes and indecents and being real, high thinkers and understandable people who will know what it means if you know its real meaning, not the double meaning.

Do, watch it if you thought Murder (Emraan Hashmi's) and Jism was progressive and advance, you would be shocked and wouldn't believe that now films are regressive and digressing, in comparison to what this is.
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A tribute to Dinesh Thakur, an underrated artist
jmathur_swayamprabha22 September 2012
Dinesh Thakur passed away on 20.09.2012. Despite being a brilliant actor (of the category of Nasiruddin Shah, Om Puri and Girish Karnaad) alongwith being a brilliant writer, Dinesh Thakur never got his due from Bollywood. He had won the Filmfare award for the best story for the movie - Ghar (1978) which is a highly admirable movie, telling the mental agony and trauma of a raped woman. Besides, he has been one of the pillars of the Hindi theatre. The movie buffs know him more for his memorable role of Naveen in Rajnigandha (1974), the introvert, silent lover of Deepa (Vidya Sinha). This was perhaps the only lead role that he got in his acting career in Hindi movies. Since I have already penned the review of Rajnigandha, I am presenting a review of Aastha - In the Prison of Spring (1997) which features Dinesh Thakur in the supporting role of the hero's friend, a college professor.

Aastha (faith) is the story of a couple Amar (Om Puri) and Maanasi (Rekha) who are happily married for years and having a schoolgoing daughter. Amar is a college professor whereas Maanasi is a housewife, taking care of the household and the children. Amar is an intellectual and discusses various profound issues with not only his close friend and fellow professor - Dinesh (Dinesh Thakur) but also his teenager students. Without his knowledge, one day a twist comes in the life of Maanasi when she happens to come across Reena (Daisy Irani) who is a callgirl supplier. Quite reluctantly, Maanasi happens to have sex with a customer (Naveen Nishchal) for money and she repents thereafter. However, once entered this world, she happens to do it many times but scared that her husband may come to know it some day. She feels guilty in her heart but contradictorily, this guilt is not very strong, given the not-so-good financial position of their household. The story reaches its climax with the involvement of the young students of Amar when Maanasi is able to convey the truth to her husband in an indirect and subtle way.

This movie has been produced and directed by Basu Bhattacharya who always made movies on the husband-wife relations only, always keeping the names of the lead characters in them as Amar and Maanasi only and always keeping the title of the movie as one starting with the letter 'A' (with the sole exception of Grihapravesh - 1979). I had watched this movie in the Batra theatre of Delhi when I was pursuing my dream of becoming an ICS officer. This movie is a good one time watch with some nicely executed erotic scenes and some very good intellectual discussions. But the thing is that the moviemaker has no convincing justification as to why a happy housewife has to accept prostitution when the husband is a college professor and the monetary position is not that bad. Just for some extra income, an educated and mature wife and mother is not supposed to do a callgirl's job. Once it may happen by accident (as shown in the movie) but it cannot be repeated thereafter. Besides, the heroine (Rekha) is shown as enjoying that sex outside wedlock which shows the director's confusion as to whether the reason behind this act of hers is actually the monetary need (as told) or there is a hidden untold reason of dissatisfaction in her sexual relationship with her husband.

All the same, the movie is not boring and in fact, it is quite interesting. The interactions of the professor (and later his wife too) with his young students are very interesting and the intellectual discussions between the hero (Om Puri), his friend and colleague (Dinesh Thakur) and the heroine (Rekha) are also interesting as well as enlightening if the dialogs are listened to with proper attention. Some dialogs are humorous also. The movie is not that bad but the thing is that the message rendered is neither clear nor acceptable.

Since I am writing this review as a tribute to Dinesh Thakur, let me discuss his performance first. He is in the supporting role of the hero's friend with whom he discusses and shares many issues. Dinesh Thakur has delivered a pleasant performance in this role which is at the centre of certain intellectual as well as friendly chats in the movie. He is not just the friend of the hero, he is a family friend as well whom the hero's wife frankly talks to.

Both Om Puri and Rekha have delivered nice performances and they are quite natural in lovemaking scenes too. Rekha is leagues ahead of much younger actresses (at the age of 43 years at the time of this movie) in terms of sex appeal and charm. Despite the confused role, she has delivered a very convincing performance. All the supporting actors have done well. But the youngsters playing the roles of various students deserve special praise.

With a modest production value, the movie is not unduly long and there is no dragging anywhere. As said earlier, whether you agree to the plot or not, the movie does not bore you at any point of time. In the end, the director has left the viewers free to draw their own conclusions as to what happened thereafter.

Shaarang Dev has composed admirable music with the excellent lyrics of Gulzaar. Labon Se Choom Lo, Tan Pe Lagti Kaanch Ki Boonden, Yeh Raat Kunwaari Hai etc. are quite good to listen (and feel).

While recommending this relationship-based movie to the audience of serious cinema, I pay my tribute to the underrated cinema and theatre personality - Dinesh Thakur. May his soul rest in peace.
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Bold provocative and contrioversial
silvan-desouza15 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
In bollywood in 70s and 80s very few bold films were made for A class audience. Aastha is one of them which was made by Basu Bhattacharya. The film was in headlines due to the hot scenes between Rekha and Navin Nischol and also with Om Puri. The film has a very unique story rarely seen on Indian screen, though Rekha's reason to join prostitution does seem a bit half baked, but the way the story unfolds is well handled, Om Puri's idealistic character is well handled too The film has some hot scenes too but the problem lies also in the confusion of the writing, Rekha is seen enjoying in the hot scenes with Navin Nischol and then having guilt this does get confusing The end is open-ended for audiences to guess which is good

Direction is good Music is okay

Rekha is superb in her role as always, playing her part convincingly Om Puri too is perfect in his role, Navin Nischol gets less scope and is okay. Daisy Irani is superb in a negative role, the others are all good
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jahangirhussain742 March 2014
I didn't quite understand the intention of the director Basu Bhattacharya for making this film.

The film neither glorifies nor condemns the heroine for what she did. Aastha just shows Mansi (Rekha) as being helpless in front of her desires and materialistic needs. She could have lived a content life with just what her husband earns and there's not enough justification for why she strays.

When she has her first sexual encounter with a rich client, she's not shown to be reluctant to do it neither does she attempt to let go of her desire for materialism.

The ending is deeply unsatisfying as the principal question remains unanswered: whether the husband forgives Mansi or not. I know it was meant to be that way in order to make the audience think, however, it would have been even more thoughtful to give the movie a proper ending.

I clearly doubt Bhattacharya's intentions here, however if you are a huge Rekha fan and want to watch her ooze her sex appeal with just her expressions rather than exposing her body, then give it a try!
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The Sex Lusty Side Of Rekha
scofield74 September 2014
Aastha Will Always Be Remembered For That Deeply Lusty And Erotic Extra- Marital Sex Scene Between Navin Nischol And Rekha And Those Horny Lusty Expressions Of Rekha,Even Without Nudity The Sex Scene Is Highly Sexual As It Involves Toe-Sucking Of Rekha By Navin

When Rekha Cheats Her Husband And Had Extra Marital Sex She Doesn't Feels Guilt But Enjoys That Act.That's the Message Of The Film That Act Of Sex Should Not Be Felt Ashamed But Enjoyed,That's the Message Director And Rekha wanted To Give To Indian Audience.

Very Sexual Film.

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