27 Down (1974) – Classic Vault – Review

    There are many lists of great Indian movies. But I never found a list having 27 Down in it. I wonder why. A movie like this deserved to be in all of those lists. Directed by Avtar Krishna Kaul, 27 Down (based on the novel Athra Suraj Ke Paudhe) truly defines the word Underrated.

    Sanjay has an interest in arts, but he has to leave his studies in-between to join railways as a ticket collector. His father, played by Om Shivpuri, says ” what is in the studies these days, in the end you have to do a job”. Sanjay takes his father’s advice and decides to ride the predetermined track of his life. One day he meets a girl named Shalini. They fall in love with each other. When Sanjay’s father comes to know about this, he asks Sanjay to marry another girl. Unsatisfied with everything happening around , he leaves his wife and goes to Varanasi, where he engages himself in alcohol and prostitutes. But still he can’t find peace.

    Sanjay, a man having two birthplaces, because he was borned in a moving train. This clearly shows that Sanjay is destined to be in moving trains. He tries many times to get off, but his life has no destination. He is born to be a passenger on a predetermined path without knowing the end. Trains, stations, tracks are the metaphor. Director takes you to the internal journey of Sanjay. It is a psychological drama, very layered and symbolic. It draws many parallels. Trains traveling through bridges signifies life and hurdles. Sanjay fights an internal war to give some kind of meaning to his life.

    27 Down is shot in black and white. The visuals are poetic. There’s a scene where trains cross each other, which is really very poetic in the context of the movie. The screenplay and editing are very impressive. It doesn’t look like a 1974 movie, it’s really decades ahead. Apurba Kishore Bir won a national award for best cinematography. Unfortunately this is the only movie of Avtar Krishna Kaul, who died in an accident very young. M K Raina, who played Sanjay has given an incredible performance. Rakhee also did her bit really well. Music by Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Bhubaneswar Mishra.

    A film has been forgotten, but we need to start a conversation on it. The story of a confused youth in his 20s in search of answers. It is very relevant. In my opinion this is the right time to rediscover 27 Down.

    A must watch. Compulsory if you are in your late 20s.

    About the author

    Ajit has had a passion for movies since he was a child. As a screenwriter, he has written scripts for films and television series. Aside from films, he enjoys travelling. You can follow him on twitter @ajit1113

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