Anhonee

(Synopsis)

Written by: Mukund Trivedi

Death has arrived again at Shambhu Prasad’s doorstep. But many things have changed since their last meeting. The new-age Yamraj wears dark sunglasses, conducts his business on a laptop and dresses in sharp business suits. Yamraj is surprised to see the towering skyscrapers and the hustle and bustle of the city but he also notices one thing that hasn’t changed over the years; Shambhu Prasad’s modest tenement. The story picks up where we last saw Shambhu Prasad asking Death for more time on earth to fullfil his duties. Death keeps his date with Shambhu Prasad and promptly shows up at the stipulated time to take Shambhu to the Great Beyond. But when Death arrives at Shambhu’s home in the chawl, he finds, to his great surprise, that Shambhu has been missing for a long time.

A stunned Death asks Shambhu’s family where he was seen last. But before they part with any more information they ask who Death is. Not one to shy away from the truth, Death reveals his identity. His revelation is met with mocking laughter and cruel jokes. Shambhu’s wife, three daughters and brother-in-law all take turns to deride Death. Left with no choice, Death produces proof of his identity. This time nobody laughs. A stunned silence greets the room; laughter ceases and smiles fade. It takes a long time for the family to speak, and even then only mumbled words come out. Death puts them at ease and presses them to tell him where Shambhu was seen last. Shambhu’s wife tells him that Shambhu had been making rounds of government offices to get a house sanctioned. She further says that it was the one thing that Shambhu had wished for all his life – to leave the chawl, and live in a house of his own.  Death tells the family that he will find Shambhu and bring him back.

The next morning, Death arrives at the tenement but there is no sign of Shambhu. A pensive Prasad family greets him. He tells them that he was unable to find Shambhu but assures them that he won’t stop searching until he finds him. Mrs. Prasad finally breaks down. She confides in Death about their woes; three daughters of marriageable age, a missing husband and a brother struggling to make ends meet. To his surprise, and much against his principles, Death feels sorry for the family and promises Mrs. Shambhu that he’ll get them their dues and also get her daughters married. The next day, Death brings three men with him. He presents them before the family as the three grooms for the three daughters. The family bursts out laughing on seeing their ratty clothes and their unkempt appearance. The three men, angered by their humiliation, storm out of the house. Shambhu’s brother-in-law asks Death to find Shambhu first and worry about his daughters later. Death apologizes for his idiocy and takes his leave.

Death begins his search anew. We follow him as he goes from one government office to another to find out about Shambhu’s whereabouts. He gets emotionally involved with this family and this does not go down well with his superiors who berate him for getting himself so attached to Shambhu’s family. Death finds a way to pacify his bosses but the problem preys heavily on his mind. Meanwhile, we get to learn more about Shambhu’s family. Shambu’s brother-in-law is a teacher at a government school. He wants to marry the love of his life but the girl’s father won’t allow her to marry someone who doesn’t even live in a house of his own. Shambhu’s daughters all have their own quandaries. The oldest daughter is in love with a young priest who is visually impaired; the youngest daughter has stopped going to college since her father’s disappearance, and the third daughter is heartbroken because her love was cheating on her. We see how each member of the family deals with their problems. But unbeknownst to them, Death is helping each one of them, albeit in different forms.

A few days later, Death arrives at the tenement and abruptly asks Shambhu’s brother-in-law to come with him. He panics and thinks that his time in this world is over but Death assures him that he’s only taking him to someone who knows of Shambhu’s whereabouts. Death takes him to the chief minister’s office. Before going into the office, Death tells Shambhu’s brother-in-law that he was able to trace Shambhu Prasad’s file to the chief minister. Then he proceeds to open the office door and they both walk in. The CM is indifferent at first, even apathetic. To fix this, Death, using futuristic technology, brings up the CM’s file on his palm. He reads from it and tells him things about his life that only he would know. The CM is taken aback. He quickly produces Shambhu’s file and begs Death not to go to the press with his information. Death persuades the CM to sanction a house in Mrs. Prasad’s name; the CM swiftly obliges. Acting quickly, Shambhu’s brother-in-law gets a house sanctioned for himself, too. Then, from the Great Beyond itself, Shambhu’s voice booms across the large office. Even Death is stunned for a moment. Shambhu’s voice tells Death to open the file and see the details of his whereabouts. He goes on to tell him that in his own quest to find a house, he met some people who were physically handicapped and before dying he decided to donate his parts to those people.

Death and Shambhu’s brother-in-law start tracing his body parts. In a flashback we get to see all the people Shambhu donated his parts to and how he met them. One of those people turns out to be the young priest that Shambhu’s oldest daughter is in love with. When Death and Shambhu’s brother-in-law have found out about Shambhu’s last donated part, Shambhu’s voice is heard again. He tells them that finally his soul can rest in eternal peace. Death and Shambhu’s brother-in-law decide that it wouldn’t be appropriate to tell the family about Shambhu’s demise and hence Death takes the form of Shambhu Prasad and they both trek back home.

Death, disguised as Shambhu, solves all the family’s problems. The brother-in-law is finally accepted by his girlfriend’s father. Shambhu’s daughters find happiness with their respective partners, and they all move into their new home. When it is time for Death to leave, he appears before Mrs. Prasad in his true form. She realizes that Shambhu Prasad was long gone and it was Death who took the guise o Shambhu to help the family. Death brings forth the recipients of Shambhu’s body parts and tells Mrs. Prasad that her husband saved a lot of lives even in his death. An emotional Mrs. Prasad expresses her gratitude toward Death and draws them all into a tight embrace. Death takes one last glance at the Prasad household and with a smile, disappears.

 

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