Aastha: In the Prison of Spring

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Aastha: In the Prison of Spring
Aastha - In the Prison of Spring (movie poster).jpg
Directed by Basu Bhattacharya
Produced by Basu Bhattacharya
Written by Basu Bhattacharya
Starring Rekha
Om Puri
Dinesh Thakur
Navin Nischol
Daisy Irani
Music by Shaarang Dev
Cinematography Khokon Bhaduri
Dilip Ranjan Mukhopadhyay (also director of photography)
Edited by Shailesh Shetye
Distributed by Aarohi Film Makers
Release date
28 January 1997
Running time
132 minutes[1]
Country India
Language Hindi

Aastha: In the Prison of Spring is a 1997 Bollywood film, produced and directed by Basu Bhattacharya. The film stars Rekha, Om Puri, Navin Nischol and Daisy Irani in the main roles. The film went on to receive both critical acclaim and commercial success, the latter of which had eluded Basu in his last few films. Subsequently, spurred on by this success, Basu was even planning to remake the film in English, though he died in June 1997, at the age 62.[2] The film's success was described as blurring the gap between Indian art and commercial cinema, where art film makers, dealing with serious issues, used a musical format to make the film more commercially appealing, thus reaching a wider audience.[3] Rekha received a nomination of 1997 Star Screen Award for Best Actress.[4]

In the movie, Rekha had the controversial role of a married woman who turns into a prostitute, which was severely criticized by the audience.[5] About her role in the movie, Rekha said, "After 'Aastha: In the Prison of Spring' people had a lot to say about my role of a wife who moonlights as a prostitute. I don't have problems playing anything. I've reached a stage where I could do justice to any role that came my way. It could be role of a mother, a sister-in-law; negative, positive, sensational or anything."[6]

The movie is remarkable for its explicit love scenes.[7]

Plot summary[edit]

Mansi (Rekha) and Amar (Om Puri) have been married for years, and have a daughter by this marriage. Amar is employed full-time, while Mansi looks after the household chores and their daughter. Amar earns a steady income, which enables the family to live comfortably, but they cannot afford to be extravagant at all. One day while buying shoes for her daughter, Mansi realizes that shoes are really expensive, and wants to leave the store without purchasing them. Another woman customer named Reena (Daisy Irani) offers to pay for the shoes, as she feels sorry for Mansi. Mansi reluctantly accepts Reena's offer to pay for the shoes, not realizing that Reena has paid for these shoes with a secret agenda that will open a new door in Mansi's life dragging her to prostitution to satisfy materialistic needs.[8]


The film was seen as follow up of the noted trilogy Basu Bhattacharya made around marital discord in the 1970s, with Anubhav (1971), Avishkaar (1973) and Griha Pravesh (1979). Aastha turned out to be Basu's last movie, and is set again in the institution of marriage, although here Basu illustrates his response to the growing materialism in the 1990s and explores its impact on modern, urban marriage, as well as moral values.[9][10] A bored and restless housewife, who has a young school-going daughter, awakens to her sexuality post mid-life, and in the process falls into the trap of prostitution. She wants material comforts (consumerism) and finds her professor husband's (Om Puri) income inadequate for it. She agrees to have a liaison with another man (Navin Nischol), in exchange for gifts and money, in the absence of her husband, who is shown as being highly principled. Though later, she is unable to reconcile with the new reality, as guilt and remorse regarding her choices, soon overshadow the joys of her few found comforts and sexual escapades.[2][9][11]

It remains one of few films in Bollywood, which explore a woman's sexuality outside marriage,[12][13]


Actor/Actress Role
Rekha mansi
Om Puri Amar
Dinesh Thakur Dinesh
Anwesha Bhattacharya Amita
Daisy Irani Reena
Navin Nischol Mr. Dutt
Shruti Patel Neeti


The soundtrack is composed by Shaarang Dev with the lyrics penned by Gulzar.

No. Title Singers Length
1. "Jai Jai Naath" K. Ravi Shankar  
2. "Labon Se Chumlo" Sriradha Banerjee  
3. "Recitation" Gulzar  
4. "Tum Tanana Tere Na" Sadhana Sargam, Vinod Rathod  
5. "Ye Raat Kunwari Hai" Vinod Rathod  
6. "Tan Pe Lagti Kaanch Ki Boondein" Sriradha Bannerjee  


  1. ^ "In the Prison of Spring - Aastha (1997)". BBFC. Retrieved 10 May 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Basuda, auteur of "sensitive" films dies at 62". Indian Express. 21 June 1997. 
  3. ^ Morcom, Anna (2007). Hindi film songs and the cinema. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 0-7546-5198-3. 
  4. ^ "And the nominees for 1997 are..." Indian Express. 9 January 1998. 
  5. ^ "Bollywood's grand 'young' style diva". The Tribune. 12 October 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  6. ^ "At 53, Rekha is still Bollywood's style diva". Bihartimes.com. 2007-11-10. Archived from the original on 12 December 2007. Retrieved 2010-04-04. 
  7. ^ Bhattacharya, Roshmila (25 April 2003). "HOT STUFF: Charting body behaviour in Hindi cinema". Screen. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  8. ^ Muthukumaraswamy, M. D.; Molly Kaushal (2004). Folklore, public sphere, and civil society. National Folklore Support Centre (India) (NFSC). p. 132. ISBN 81-901481-4-1. 
  9. ^ a b "Straying spouses caught in reel". The Tribune. 12 November 2006. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  10. ^ Gulzar; Govind Nihalani, Saibal Chatterjee (2003). Encyclopaedia of Hindi cinema. (Encyclopædia Britannica (India) Pvt. Ltd), Popular Prakashan. p. 532. ISBN 81-7991-066-0. 
  11. ^ Vaidyanathan, Dr PV (16 January 2004). "Dangerous liaisons". Screen. 
  12. ^ Misra, Geetanjali; Radhika Chandiramani (2005). Sexuality, gender and rights: exploring theory and practice in South and Southeast Asia. SAGE. ISBN 0-7619-3403-0. 
  13. ^ "Lovers and Liars". The Times of India. 27 April 2004. 

External links[edit]