Not the (relatively) new one starring Venkatesh and Karisma Kapoor. I’m referring to the old one with Raj Kapoor, Motilal and Nutan. For the most part, this is just a standard simpleton-in-the-big-bad-city movie, the cinematic equivalent of comfort food. What makes it memorable, however, is a courtroom scene right at the end.
Raj (Kapoor) has been accused of poisoning his landlady Mrs. D’Sa (Lalita Pawar). The culprit is, in fact, Seth Ramnath Sohanlal (Motilal), whose niece Aarti (Nutan) Raj is in love with. Ramnath’s factory produced a medicine which was, in fact, contaminated — Mrs D’Sa died as a result of taking it. Raj knows this, as does Ramnath. But Raj confesses to the crime in court, saying he deserves the death penalty because the world is better off without honest men like him. He goes on to deliver a scathing indictment of the money-grubbing society he sees around him, as well as a few not-so-veiled barbs at Ramnath himself. The dialogue is well-written and delivered, but nothing out of the ordinary.
What is extraordinary is the courtroom scene the next day, when Ramnath testifies before the court. His niece has left him, he finds himself morally bankrupt, and all that remains is his wealth. He goes to the stand and confesses to having manufactured the defective medicines in his factory, and having known all the time that these medicines were what killed Mrs. D’Sa. He says:
I knew all the time, but said nothing. Because I wanted to win at all costs. I still want to win. Especially against this man [pointing to Raj]. Which is why I am confessing now.
In most movies, the rich man would talk about how he had kept quiet because he considered his wealth and prestige to be more important than everything else, but has now realized that honesty and love and family matters more. Even today, fifty years after Anari, that sort of tripe is just as likely to get used. Which is why the elegance and simplicity of that scene stands out.
Incidentally, Subhash Ghai seems to have studied this scene well. If you remember the final conversation between Anil Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai in Taal, Anil says pretty much the same thing. It’s not a total copy, but I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t inspired by Anari.