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Film poster
Directed by Mahesh Bhatt
Produced by Tarachand Barjatya
Written by Mahesh Bhatt (screenplay & dialogue)
Sujit Sen (screenplay & dialogue)
Amit Khanna (dialogue)
Story by Mahesh Bhatt
Starring Anupam Kher
Rohini Hattangadi
Soni Razdan
Madan Jain
Music by Ajit Verman
Vasant Dev (lyrics)
Cinematography Adeep Tandon
Edited by David Dhawan
Distributed by Rajshri
Release dates
  • 25 May 1984 (1984-05-25)
Running time
137 minutes
Country India
Language Hindi

Saaransh (English: The Gist [1] ) is a 1984 Hindi drama film directed by Mahesh Bhatt, and starring Anupam Kher, Rohini Hattangadi, Madan Jain, Nilu Phule, Suhas Bhalekar and Soni Razdan. The film is about an elderly Maharashtrian couple living Mumbai, who coming to terms with the death of their only son in a mugging incident in New York. The film marked the screen debut of Anupam Kher. The film had music by Ajit Verman, and lyrics by Vasant Dev. The film was distributed by Rajshri Productions.

It was chosen as India's official entry for the 1985 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, where it wasn't nominated.


Saaransh is a story of an old Maharashtrian couple living in Shivaji Park, Mumbai, coming to terms with the death of their only son who is killed in a mugging incident in New York. Devastated to learn that their child has been killed, former headmaster B.V. Pradhan and his wife, Parvati, grieve.

With their son dead, there is no income coming in, so they rent out a room in their Shivaji Park (Mumbai) apartment to a budding Bollywood actress, Sujata Suman (Soni Razdan), who has been having an illicit affair with Vilas (Madan Jain), the only son of a politician named Gajanan Chitre (Nilu Phule). Vilas lacks the guts to tell his father that he is in love and would like to marry Sujata and puts off any marriage plans. They get intimate and, as a result, Sujata gets pregnant. When Pradhan finds out, he offers to take Sujata to meet Gajanan with the hope that he will permit her to become his daughter-in-law. Gajanan not only refuses, he also threatens them: He warns them of dire consequences if Sujata does not abort the child and moves away to another town. Pradhan refuses to let Sujata out of his house, and then begins the stalking and harassment by Gajanen's men. Pradhan goes to file a police complaint but is told that the police cannot even touch Gajanan's men. Sujata has no choice but to continue to seek shelter with Pradhan and Parvati. Sujata does not know that they have a secret agenda of their own in keeping her within their sight.



  • Anupam Kher – Filmfare Award for Best Actor
  • Mahesh Bhatt – Filmfare Award for Best Story
  • Madhukar Shinde – Filmfare Award for Best Art Direction
  • Vasant Dev - National Film Award for best Lyrics


Made after his critically acclaimed Arth (1982), this film too carried forward his venturing into the genre of confessional cinema. It was inspired by the death of a young son of Mahesh Bhatt's spiritual guru, U. G. Krishnamurti of cancer, and later by a Maharashtrian couple whose only son was murdered in New York.[2]

Initially Anupam Kher, originally from Shimla and an National School of Drama alumnus, was chosen to play the lead role, however later producers Rajshri Productions insisted in taking an established actor, Sanjeev Kumar for the role. Thus fortnight before the principal photography was to commence, Kher who had been preparing for almost eight months for his debut, got the news. When Bhatt confirmed the change, he decide to pack his bags and leave town. However before leaving he went to meet Bhatt and express his frustration. Subsequently, Bhatt insisted on keeping him as the lead, and the producers agreed.[3][4]

The film began on 1 January 1984 with very first scene in the film of Pradhan played by Kher, receiving the phone call from New York.[4] Kher was only 28 years old at the time, when he played the role retired stubborn old man. For the pivotal scene, where he had to haggle with the customs officials to recover his son's ashes, since Kher had no reference of such a situation, tapped into all his hardships as struggling actor in Mumbai to reach the emotional point. The scene was shot at an office space in Film City, Mumbai, and was completed in a single take, without rehearsals or use of glycerine. He went on to win Filmfare Award for Best Actor for his performance.[4]


The film explores with the loneliness and anxieties of old age, through the utter aimlessness the old couple finds itself after the death of their only son, victim of arbitrary violence. The retired headmaster is unable to find reemployment.[5][6] While his wife seeks refuge in religion and faith, the headmaster remains stoic and becomes obsessive about the memories of his son. In his efforts to reach out to his dead son, he starts writing letters to him each night, only to tears them away.[7] It also focusses on importance of finding new meaning and purpose no matter what age. [5][6]

Other themes, it touches upon through Pradhan's interactions with custom officials and police is corruption, politics-crime nexus and also bureaucratic delay, rampant bribery and red-tapism. [8]


The music of the film was given by Ajit Varman, and lyrics by Vasant Dev.


Encyclopædia Britannica's "Encyclopedia of Hindi Cinema" described Saaransh as Mahesh Bhatt's "finest film – moving, mellow, and mature – as the viewer feels the pain and despair of an elderly couple..." [9] The film's lead pair, Anupam Kher and Rohini Hattangadi were praised for their portrayals, described by The Tribune as "immortal performances".[10] Coming after the success of Arth (1982), the critical acclaim of Saaransh established Bhatt as a director of repute in the industry, [11] Even today, the film remains one of the few stand out in "middle-of-the-road" films of the 1980s decade Hindi cinema, [12] which is retrospective seen as a decade decline of content in the mainstream cinema. [13]

It went on to win three Filmfare Awards: Best Actor for Anupam Kher, Best Story for Mahesh Bhatt, and Best Art Direction for Madhukar Shinde. It was nominated for four other awards, including Best Movie, Best Director (Bhatt), Best Actress (Rohini Hattangadi) and Best Supporting Actress (Soni Razdan). At the 32nd National Film Awards, the film also won one National Film Award for Best Lyrics for Vasant Dev.[14]

The film was included in the Panorama section of the 1984 International Film Festival of India (IFFI). [15] It was India's official submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, though it did not make it to the final run. Among other awards, Bhatt received a special prize at the 14th Moscow International Film Festival, and was a nominee for the Golden Prize.[16]


  1. ^ DIFF 1985, p. 103.
  2. ^ "Interview with Mahesh Bhatt: Stories of His Life". IndiaWest. 2 July 2012. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  3. ^ Bajaj 2014, p. 2036.
  4. ^ a b c "Anupam Kher talks about how Mahesh Bhatt's Saaransh changed his life". The Times of India. 18 February 2014. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Garga 1996, p. 265.
  6. ^ a b Chandrasekhar 2003, p. 352.
  7. ^ Ray 2005, p. 69.
  8. ^ Dasgupta 2014, p. 76.
  9. ^ Gulzar 2003, p. 108.
  10. ^ Dhawan, M.L (28 April 2002). "When content was the king". The Tribune. Retrieved 24 February 2011. 
  11. ^ Gulzar 2003, p. 531.
  12. ^ Sommaya 2013, p. 1986.
  13. ^ Spinelli 2002, p. 80.
  14. ^ "32nd National Film Awards". International Film Festival of India. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  15. ^ DIFF 1985, p. 3.
  16. ^ "14th Moscow International Film Festival (1985)". MIFF. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 


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