When Govind Nihalani makes movies it is not the usual run of the mill formulaic movies. His movies have depth, understanding and a solid whiplash story with a underlying but subtle messaging. His Aakrosh, Vijeta, Ardh Satya, Party, Tamas are all timeless cult classics.
Aghaat is a movie of an inter union rivalry in a factory so predominant during the working class days of the 60s and 70s. Here we have an absolutely brilliant story and dialogues written by Vijay Tendulkar and the genius of Govind Nihalani to script a beautiful movie. Madhav Varma (Om Puri) is a union leader in Shivalik Engineering Works, an idealist, socialist, humanist in the mould of Che Guevara. Rustom Patel (Nazeeruddin Shah) is a rival union leader who is aptly supported by the mainstream political parties of the day. In a way its a communism vs non communism slug fight for the political space of a young India.
Chotelal, (Pankaj Kapoor) a worker in the factory has an accident resulting in the loss of his limb. He becomes a pawn in the political struggle to gain control over the minds of the workmen. Its an ugly fight led by Rustom Patel’s henchman Krishnan Raju (late malayalam actor Bharath Gopi in a deadly role) who are not hesitant to use knives and arms to gain predominance. The face off between Gopi and Om Puri in the funeral of Chotelal is mind blowing. Here we have two of the finest actors of the generation on the same stage.
In the midst are two people who are genuinely working for the welfare of the working class – Paranjpe (KK Raina in an under rated role) a personnel manager who sees the right of all things and Mrs. Ali (Rohini Hattangadi) a struggling social worker who is there on the spot for all the worker’s problems of all sorts.
In this idealistic situation the management led by General Manager Sarnaik (Sadashiv Amrapurkar) sitting on the fence watching all the developments and not taking any sides but going by the rule book. The situation turns ugly towards the end when even the communists are forced to take up violence to beat the violence from the other end. Violence begets violence and one needs a bigger violence to curb the smaller one. The idealism goes out of the window thanks to Comrade Naidu (Salim Ghose) who espouses violence to beat Rustom Patel’s gate meeting.
Amidst all this, is Amrish Puri an elder statesman and thought leader for Om Puri who espouses not to stray from the path that one chooses. He essayed the same role to Nazeeruddin Shah in Aakrosh. All the actors have played their roles to perfection.
Govind Nihalani’s favorite characters are all there, a rich cast of brilliant actors and personalities, plus with Vijay Tendulkar’s superb dialogues and Nihalani’s deft direction makes this a cult classic of all times. If there can be a perfect movie with all the ingredients in tact and of a very high quality, this movie is the one.