There was an era in Indian cinema when films were segregated as commercial movies and parallel movies. With Arthouse Days, we revisit those ‘parallel films’ that were overshadowed by the glamorous outings.
Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho, directed by Saeed Akhtar Mirza, is the story of a man who lives in a manipulative, corrupt world but continues to believe in his idealistic principles. Mohan Joshi, played by Bhisham Sahni, is an elderly retired man who, along with his wife Rohini, played by Dina Pathak, wants to get his home repairs done by the landlord Kundan Kapadia, played by Amjad Khan.
Kapadia has no interest in repairing the building as he wants to eventually demolish it. Thus, starts the struggle of Mohan Joshi who sues his landlord but little does he know that the system has set him up to fail even before he can start the battle.
Joshi is an idealist. He believes that knocking the door of the judicial system is the right way for justice. He has the reputation of being the one who doesn’t let anyone cut in line and solves local disputes but these traits that he proudly wears like armour aren’t taken well by his neighbours.
After Joshi hires Naseeruddin Shah and Satish Shah as his lawyers, his troubles are further enhanced. The filmmaker makes it clear from the start that Joshi has fallen into the hands of sharks but Joshi being the simpleton he is, can’t see through the unscrupulous lawyers. He runs from pillar to post for years to get his home repaired but to no avail. He gets counter-sued, receives threats from goons and spends his hard earned money on all the judicial procedures.
In a poignant scene, we see Joshi and his wife sitting in a park as they wait for their hearing. They see a bunch of union workers shouting slogans upon which Rohini says that it’s nice to see people band together for a cause but all Joshi can see, is his loneliness in the battle that he’s fighting.
Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho is a dark satire on the society that is designed to support the rich. It describes the plight of a regular middle class man who can knock on as many doors as he wants but he should know, that this is a lost cause. The film’s timeline spans across years as we see Joshi getting weaker and his grandchildren getting older but the court procedures just won’t stop. For today’s generation, this film can be described as the non-con version of the 2006 film Khosla Ka Ghosla.
Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho released in 1984 but is quite timeless in its treatment. The ongoing struggle of a common man and his belief that ‘Truth shall always prevail’ is a sentiment that still echoes in the hearts of millions. The innocence of Joshi in trying to fight his battles reminds us that the world isn’t as just as our principles taught us.