Existential crisis is at the heart of Actor Rajat Kapoor new independent film, Ankhon Dekhi (Before my Eyes). Fresh off last year’s opening film “Midnight’s Children,” Kapoor returns to Silk Screen Film Festival with this daring tale of the spiritual and ontological awakening of an ordinary man.
Bauji, a 55 year old easy-going man lives with his extended family, including his wife and children, and his younger brother’s family. Their tenement flat in the crowded old Delhi is cramped with people, each one with their own personal drama. Particularly disruptive, Bauji’s teenage daughter is found to be in love with a disreputable guy. The whole family is furious and vents their rage on the hapless couple. This romantic farce leads to a dramatic change in Bauji. He concludes that everything is uncertain. He will never find his own truth by following and listening to others. He vows to only believe what he sees with his own eyes and experiences in his own life. To his family and friends, Bauji’s sudden change is worrying and unacceptable. As a result, Bauji suffers severe consequences personally and professionally. However, others’ reactions won’t divert Bauji from his path. He remains steadfast on his journey toward his own truth and freedom.
In a traditional extended family setting, in a more collectivist society, the story explores a modern epistemological theme. This creates magnificent dramatic tension. All the seemingly funny questions asked by Bauji were asked by great the philosophers in history. Kapoor says, “A man who is willing to stake everything for his belief, he is both a mad man and a messiah; a fool and a guru.” At the end of the film, Bauji is flying, as he always wanted. What is the destination for people like him? Kapoor leaves an ultimate question for our audiences.