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Knotted lives: The best from Mahesh Bhatt’s oeuvre

Bhatt is known to have launched the careers of many popular actors. Orphanhood, extramarital affairs, illegitimacy, and divorce are recurring themes in Bhatt’s films.
Last Updated : 23 September 2023, 00:27 IST
Last Updated : 23 September 2023, 00:27 IST

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Mahesh Bhatt turned 75 on September 20. He debuted as a filmmaker with ‘Manzilein Aur Bhi Hain’, which is about two fugitives and their relationship with a sex worker. He then received critical acclaim for the film ‘Saaransh’ (1984). He is known to have launched the careers of many popular actors. Orphanhood, extramarital affairs, illegitimacy, and divorce are recurring themes in Bhatt’s films. 

Arth (1982)

A filmmaker in an extramarital relationship, leaves his wife, Pooja (Shabana Azmi). The film revolves around Pooja’s quest for identity and meaning. 

‘Arth’ is said to be semi-autobiographical as it inspired by the director’s extramarital relationship.

The film got Shabana her second National Film Award for Best Actor (female); she has received the award five times. 

Saaransh (1984)

An elderly couple battle with the uncertainty of life after the death of their only son who was killed by muggers in New York. The film was chosen as India’s official entry for the 1985 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film but was not nominated.

Aashiqui (1990)

The film explores a love story between an orphaned girl living in abusive circumstances and an aspiring singer. They soon encounter a series of struggles. When the film was released, the melodious music became popular with audiences. It emerged as the bestselling Bollywood album of the time. 

Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin (1991)

Pooja (Pooja Bhatt), the daughter of a business tycoon meets Raghu (Aamir Khan), a journalist, when she’s running away from home to meet her boyfriend. They run into many adventures, eventually fall in love with each other. 

Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke (1993)

Rahul (Aamir Khan)  takes care of his dead sister’s children — who are unbearably naughty. They meet Vaijanti (Juhi Chawla), who has run away from her home, at a carnival. She comes to stay with the kids at Rahul’s house without his knowledge. Bhatt received the special jury award at the 41st National Film Awards for this film. 

Tamanna (1997)

A transgender person, Tikku, finds a child abandoned near a garbage bin. Tikku brings the child home, names her Tamanna and raises her as her own. Tamanna grows up and due to a mix of circumstances, she goes looking for her real parents. The film won the National Film Awards for Best Film on Other Social Issues. 

Zakhm  (1998)

Amidst communal riots, Ajay grapples with trying to save his mother’s life
and fulfilling her final request. Although Bhatt faced criticism for keeping the narrative personalised instead of delving into divisive politics, it won a National Film Award for Best Film on National Integration. 

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Published 23 September 2023, 00:27 IST

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