Verdict: Anandi Gopal is delightful, inspiring, and tragic.
Anandibai Joshi was the first woman physician from Bombay Presidency all the way back in the late 1800s from Pennsylvania. Anandi’s husband Gopal Joshi plays a pivotal role in her story. Tragically, Anandibai succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of 21. Anandi Gopal is an account of a lady and her husband who broke all norms and laid the foundation for providing education to women.
What’s Anandi Gopal About:
It is 1875 and India is under the British Raj. Gopalrao Joshi (Lalit Prabhakar), who works as a clerk, meets nine-year-old Yamu’s parents for a marriage proposal. Gopalrao is a widower with a child and is about 10 years older than Yamu and is notoriously whimsical. He is a Brahman, alright but he has no regard for orthodox dogmatic traditions that come along with it. Much to the chagrin of the fellow Brahmans around him, Gopalrao reads Charles Dickens and is adamant that his wife should be literate. Despite Yamu’s parents’ resistance, Gopalrao teaches Yamu – Anandi (Bhagyashree Milind) after the marriage – math, reading, writing, and English. All is okay for a few years, until one day, the Joshi couple is subjected to a trauma that pushes Anandi over the edge and she decides to pursue medicine. This is met with daunting opposition from the people around them, who don’t mind ostracizing the couple if they don’t comply with “tradition”.
Anandibai’s story is inspirational and worth watching on the big screen. Anandi Gopal takes us through a British era not only with the sets, the dialect, and the styling of the actors, but also with the narration. Lalit Prabhakar’s Gopal has shades of whimsy, determination, and a visionary. Gopal takes the tough love approach and in no way can be called perfect but he has his heroic moments. And Prabhakar does all this perfectly. Bhagyashree Milind makes for a convincing Anandi. After deciding to study medicine, Anandi starts becoming her own person and Bhagyashree’s performance shift gears. The script is layered that not only shows us the couple’s mission but also tells us a unique love story. In the story of Anandi and Gopal’s triumph over the senseless societal “traditions” and their fight against the dogma, we see a strong bond of respect and love that’s shared between the life partners. Gopal’s understanding of the then India and his insistence on educating women and learning the English language seems visionary in retrospect but faced aggressive opposition at the time. Director Sameer Vidwans’ Anandi Gopal sheds light over an important step in the history towards empowering women despite all odds, and must be watched by all.
Why Could’ve Been Better:
Barring a few melodramatic moments and a slightly distracting background score in a few scenes, Anandi Gopal makes for a beautiful watch.
Why You Should Watch:
Stories like these make us realize how we never had to fight for our rights because someone in history did, which is beyond our imagination. Anandi Gopal has a rich script from story to dialogues to narration and has many delightful and awe-inspiring moments. The between-the-lines love story is a treat, as it is beautifully portrayed. Anandi Gopal needs to be on your to-watch list this weekend.