Indian Horoscope

My father was a multi-faceted persona. Amongst his varied interests, Astrology figured prominently. I still remember many aggrieved persons visiting our house to get their Horoscopes read by him. Though he never took it up as a profession, Babu did enjoy certain amount of proficiency in prophesying and read widely on the subject. His jovial one-liner on Horoscope was “Only Horror No Scope”. Strangely, he was very reticent when it came to reading the future of his two daughters. (Perhaps, he didn’t find much there worth mentioning!!) It’s our common belief that Babuji did know the exact time of his final departure from this mortal world. Always people-centric, he chose to spend the last few years of his life in quiet reclusion, often lying down and looking at his palm in a resigned manner.

The 32nd National Award Winning Movie Ankahee 1985

Decades later these memories came to haunt me afresh as I watched “Ankahee” on You Tube. Well, most may have never heard of this movie which centers round the urge to understand the phenomenon of life through discordant ways.

Dr. Sriram Lagoo as the Jyotirbhaskar

Jyotirbhaskar Pandit Satyanarayanan Chaturbedi, a gifted Astrologer, is consumed with guilt every time his prophecies of imminent death come to pass, more so, when it involves his near and dear ones. Utterly dejected he wishes to take a hasty retirement from his profession.

However, before doing so, he is compelled to pass one last verdict when his son, Devakinandan or Nandu proposes marriage to his long-time sweetheart Sushma. Jyotirbhaskar having read Nandu’s horoscope is sanguine that his first wife will die in labour eleven months after marriage whereupon there is a second marriage written on the cards for him. It is not so much the two marriages than the question of knowingly pushing Sushma towards a cursed end that provokes Jyotirbhaskar to resist the alliance. Of course, Nandu and Sushma, the inarguable progenies of Science Age, refuse to cower down to Jyotirbhaskar’s opposition. Yet at the same time, knowing his clairvoyant father well, Nandu teeters on doubt and indecision.

Deepti Naval as Indumati

To further complicate matters, Bapu, Jyotirbhaskar’s bosom friend, arrives with his daughter Indumati, a psychotic child-woman, in urgent need of medical attention. Having accompanied the father-daughter duo for treatment, Nandu is privy to the Psychiatrist’s suggestion that marriage resulting in physical proximity with a man, may cure a hysterical Indumati, whose chaotic mind is precariously perched on the brink of unblemished adolescence steadily giving way to the  growing bodily needs of an adult woman.

Amol Palekar as the scheming Nandu

The Satan in Nandu rises to the bait, seducing Indumati to believe that she is his sublime love on one hand and playing the philanthropist, on the other, convincing Bapu that he is martyred to the sole cause of emancipating Indumati from the quagmire of  a meaningless existence into glorious womanhood, seeks her hand in marriage. It is a clever ploy to turn the table on his father’s prediction and replace Sushma with Indu for the doomed fate that his first marriage entails. Once Indu dies he can remarry Sushma and live happily ever after.

A guilt ridden Jyotirbhaskar does not have the heart to disclose the conspiracy to an overwhelmed Bapu. An aghast Sushma cries fowl and walks out on Nandu. But it’s too late as the marriage has already been consummated and a radiant Indu eagerly awaits the birth of her love-child. Does Indu survive the prophesy in the end? She does and that’s no spoiler as it is more interesting to figure out why, how and what propel the reversal of fate. Is it her Karma? Is it her indomitable will to live which crushes the cruel hands of death? Or probably it’s the purity of her soul which beseeches the Divine to revoke His presaged plan? Or is it Sushma’s sacrifice? No, probably it is Nandu’s penitence in the long run? Perhaps it is after all a faulty reading by the Jyotirbhaskar which renders the prophecy wrong? Or is it something way beyond all of these assumptions and other relentless human pursuits and  preparations to grasp a literally ‘unpredictable’ future?

Indian horoscope

Once an understandably staunch believer in Astrology, (given the inherited interest), I did try to fathom the mystique embedded in those fine lines drawn on the yellowing parchment scrolls. At the same time, a phobia for anything arithmetic dissuaded me to delve deeper in those lengthy algorithm charts. Notwithstanding my inability to dabble in the discipline, my belief persisted till it became a long-standing family joke that even in order to sneeze I needed to allude to my Zodiac Chart. However, various incidents and experiences gradually exonerated me of this over-dependence. Today I’d say I live life by each day as it comes.

There are interesting debates pivoting around the exactness, ethics and moral responsibility of Astrological prophesies strewn throughout the movie. My father called Astrology an inexact Science. My distant cousin, who was into it professionally, once thumped hard on his writing table and challenged me to disprove his seemingly fantastic predictions, promising that he would down the shutters permanently if  any one of them failed to fructify. While two of his prophesies did come true, the third one did not. And it is the latter which did not that intrigues me the most. I am totally out of touch with him otherwise I would have surely seen to it that he kept his words :).


To Nandu’s query how the planets distanced by millions of miles from the Earth can affect human life so, Jyotirbhaskar’s  reference to the electrifying presence of the premeditated in our midst,  is hard to shrug off as mere hogwash considering the various elusive as well as evident  ways our lives are engineered, at times even beyond our comprehension and imagination. When after eight years of living away from my family I did get a transfer back home, our Astrologer friend whom we consulted quite often, exclaimed incredulously,” Yeh kaise ho gaya?” which confirms that there is more to life than just a Pundit’s prerogatives.


With the mushrooming of Fortune-tellers, Crystal Gazers, Tarrot Card Readers, Numerologists, Palmists and not to forget the various sites on the net, which with a few clues, can flash a horoscope on-screen in a jiffy, a big question mark descends on the credibility of the profession which was earlier considered a Power in possession of a few. Our block boasts of a high-profile pundit who sports personal guards. The traffic fronting his ‘fortified flats’ and the number of properties that he has come to own in the recent past tell a different story altogether.


A more pertinent issue is the inextricable element of subjectivity maligning the forecasts. I remember how an otherwise poised lady whose husband had left her, after eighteen long years of marriage, for another woman, had broken down before my father. She desperately sought a conjugal reunion. My father gave her a date by which to expect a certain change in her life. However, poked by my mother he later confessed that he could not bring himself up to tell the lady that she was actually heading for a divorce.

In contrast, my aunt’s family astrologer, an anathema, fancied his boastful self to be divinely ordained to pass judgment on other people’s lives. He was extra-sweet and presented exaggeratedly rosy pictures to those he sucked up to and insulted and frightened others with dreadful prophesies of impending doom and disaster who he could not see eye to eye with.

There are neat moments in the movie when Devaki (Nandu’s mother) advises the child-like Indumati not to share the bed with her son lest she gets impregnated. Or when the Jyotirbhaskar admits to his wife that he is exhausted shouldering the burden of foreseeing the future, quite naturally a predicament of those who choose to over-step into forbidden territory. I wonder whether my father also felt the same at some point of his life!

“Ankahee”, a deceptively simple story belying undertones of perplexing intricacies, closes on an inconclusive note with the receding silhouette of the Jyotirbhaskar striding towards a restless sea – the countless waves in shades of black and gold, crashing on the shores while a jaded sun looks on against a suffused spreadsheet of dying embers. A twilight moment whereunto merge  all  misapprehensions and misgivings along with our pride of acquired knowledge and consequent convictions, perpetuating the mystique enmeshed into the very fabric of human existence – a cryptic code which we all would like to decipher once in our lifetime!

The twilight moment of half truths


About gc1963

A working woman with interests in reading, writing, music, poetry and fine arts.

30 responses »

  1. Very interesting , Thanks for sharing


  2. debajyoti says:

    i don’t think i have watched this movie. i usually prefer fun movies but liked reading the story here (don’t think i should call it a review 😀 🙂
    i like it when astrologers tell me all nice things 😀 (who doesn’t?).

    a fantastic post!!

    is that blogspot blog yours?


    • No actually its not a review in the strictest sense of the term but I always get confused while putting tags to my posts and generally blunder. 🙂

      Well to your second thought about nice things…who doesn’t? Ask me!!!

      Thanks for being a regular…generally people don’t bother about my ramblings.

      Yes the blogspot blogs are ALL MINE 🙂 🙂

      Be my guest…anytime!!!


  3. jmathur says:

    Well, when you talked about the movie over phone, I could not make out that you’re going to post an article (it’s not a movie review) on that and the relevant theme. And hence this post has come as a pleasant surprise to me. The movie is an excellent one. I had seen it years back and now your post has made me relive the experience.

    I fully endorse your thoughts regarding astrology, foretelling and the affect of the unseen and unknown natural happenings in the universe on our lives. There is essence in the fact that our lives are affected by uncontrollable factors which we cannot think of and that’s why we get surprises at different points of time in our lives. However this is a fact and the belief of the Indian masses which is commercially exploited by the frauds spanning this country. Hence better be careful and never forget one thing – ‘fate is inevitable’. Therefore, it’s better not to try to know anything about our future. Let’s accept the life as it unfolds. All kinds of surprises, pleasant or unpleasant, should be welcome. If we try to play games with our destiny or fate and get better of it, it may (in fact, it will) checkmate us as in the case of the protagonist of the movie.

    I am not praising your article or your writing skills because praising them is a routine. My vocabulary always falls short of words for this task.




    • Mathur Sahab,

      You are right. I wanted to write a review then I veered and wrote what came to my mind.

      Yes, its not “quite right” to “know” the future for the simple reason that its not for us to know….”what will be, will be…”



  4. Geetaji,
    An engaging post. The Ankahee movie story is fantastic, no doubt. Whether we like it or not, we make our own destinies…..


  5. Dear Geeta,

    A well written post, review – nicely put up. You have tried to cater to the intellectual bent of mind…. Very nice….


  6. bombadillio says:

    interesting article. What I feel that all the predictions have a a series of iffs and buts….The wrong is not always due to astrologer. Time of birth is a key element. Now tell me, due to new science a child can come out through cesarean. And the date and time of birth get advanced. Even in normal deliveries, time can vary. Though chances are much less now a days in private hospitals. Second part is knowledge to interpret signs. Only a few can do that. Third those who has the sixth sense to look into future – that is the rarest of the rare trait, they can predict more accurately. I read of a western prodigy who in the state of trance, whatever you ask, could get damn accurate report of past and future and he became a craze. But the negative side is, with over use , that power gets vanished . But because of lots of iffs and buts, I dont belive in Astrology though I wish I should. And I have no answer to the logic put forward – how can astrologers predict a man’s future on the basis of 7 planets and ignoring the remaining planets and ignoring the rest of starts and their planets? Do that mean that human life can be influenced by only 7 planets. Finally, Rahu and Ketu mentioned, do not exist and then how it can influence too? I have been looking for a answer and yet to get a reply. Thanks for the read.


    • Yes its those iffs and buts which make it more intriguing. There are so many things which remain unanswered. I agree to most of what you say. And don’t forget Rahu and Ketu are just shadows…not celestial bodies!!!! And what about the meteors, comets, asteroids…if we are talking of gravitational pull, all these should also have their small or big roles to play in our lives depending upon their ‘pull and push’.

      Nevertheless, there are some who do have the talent of predicting exactly given all the ifs and buts! How? And all those mathematical calculations. And not to mention the mythological aspect attached to the discipline.

      There have been many instances when so many things “not predicted” have happened whereas those “emphatically predicted” did not. Moreover, there were times when imminent dangers apparently foreseen were said to be avoidable by following such and such rituals but they did happen. And the excuse given by the predictor was ‘the effect’ of the adversarial moment was ‘lessened’ by his proactive measures.

      We do oscillate between belief and dis-belief, adherence and non-adherence when it comes to future forecasting.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


  7. vimalaramu says:

    Very interesting,Geeta. I don’t know how I had missed this episode of ‘Ankahee’. Thanks for sharing it with your own personal comments and experiences.


    • gc1963 says:

      Thanks. Ankahee was a movie made in 1985 which grabbed the 32nd National Award for Best Sound Track, Music and Playback Singer Male. The entire movie in 13 parts is available on You Tube, Just go to You Tube and type “Ankahee full movie 1985” in Search and you’ll get it to watch. Thanks once again for reading and commenting so promptly. Regards


  8. Nuggehalli Pankaja says:

    Geeta,I liked your article,since the subject is close to my heart; How I wish I had seen your father! I would have given him heart-attack with my rain of questions! And he would have asked you to boycott my friendship !
    Coming to the point, being a bit psychic, I believe in all these things-‘Reincarnation, forecast through dream,apparitions, and ofcourse palmistry and astrology. Cheiro was one such person who could predict accurately. Palmistry is more reliable if the Person is really proficient. I believe in the inexorable will of fate, but taking complete refuge in it
    will be a sort of cowardice, inducing apathy,isn’t it?
    Thrilling to read about the picture. I wish I had seen it,yes,I will try on the youtube


    • You are absolutely right. Its this shadowy zone that excites and intrigues. My father would have been too interested to get engaged in such a discussion had you met him. Yeah I understand the psychic forces especially signals through dreams though Psychiatry does not believe in dream. At the same time, you are right we should not be too fatalistic ..”nahin suptasya sinhasya pravishanti mukhey mrigaah…”

      Yes the movie is on You Tube, The string is Ankahee 1985 full movie…

      Thanks for adorning my post with your esteemed opinion.



  9. Nuggehalli Pankaja says:

    By the way,Geeta,visit my facebook; You may get apleasant surprise.


  10. indusww says:

    Interesting article, Geeta. Now I’ve got a better picture of the movie “Ánkahee'” through your eyes.
    I liked your father’s jovial one-liner on Horoscope “Only Horror No Scope”.:)


  11. magiceye says:

    Fascinating read!


  12. Saritha says:

    Interesting topic..loved it. Now i want to see the movie and want to see what happens at the end.


  13. Very interesting and very well written article.

    I liked the part about your father. My father too is no more and I miss him on many occasions. He was a hotelier by profession.

    Recently my son made me watch a Malayalam movie called “Ustad Hotel.” Every scene in the movie brought back fond memories of my dad and I was weeping through out the two hours.

    About Astrology,my father used to say, “We only believe what we want to believe.” He probably meant we believe only the good stuff.

    In Tamil there is a proverb which translated means that we can win ‘vidhi’ (fate) with our ‘madhi’ (intelligence).


    • I can understand and appreciate….memories!

      Regarding your father’s wise comment on Astrology, I think he meant much more than that…he perhaps wanted to say we believe what we choose to believe. When my father assured the lady, I forget her name now, that she should expect some change in her life by the specified date, she must have held on to the hope of her husband’s return whereas my father meant something entirely different. We perhaps have to read between the lines of the complex to comprehend book called life.

      Thanks for the return visit.


  14. “A cryptic code which we all would like to decipher once in our lifetime!”– A very thought provoking article. After reading this, I can’t wait to watch “Ankahee” and it does seem to be a brilliant movie. Thanks for sharing your ideas. Mystery is what defines our existence. Our life stands in a liminal zone between the known and the unknown/unknowable. Astrology and mystical predictions remind me of the concluding section in Marquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. I was also thinking of how our lives are always caught in this battle between destiny and free choice. Thanks for sharing.


    • Yes, perhaps I am too engrossed with the abstractions of existence. They inviegle and entrap my mind so much! Ankahee grabbed the 32nd National Award for best Sound Recording, Music Composition by the immortal Jaydev and Best Playback Singer (Male), the doyen of Hindusthani Classical Music. Though I have posted this article under review I have conscioulsy not dwelt on the cinematic aspects of the film so much because my attention was taken up more by the contextual elements of the story which I could relate to very much given my paternal inheritance. However, the stupendous performances by Amol Palekar, Deepti Naval, Anil Chatterjee and Dr. Sriram Lagoo elicit due applaud. Also, the application of songs in the movie is very symbolic and unusual …wherever words fail music takes over. I think I should write a sequel to this post someday concentrating more on these points. The movie is available on You Tube in parts. Do grab an opportunity to watch it and let me know your feelings about it. For me the movie was an emotional journey down memory lane.


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