Ankur means the Seedling. And indeed, this film was a seed to the parallel movement in films that ran in 70's and 80's. It's a wonderful depiction of the reality which existed then, and even today in some remote parts of India.
The narrative is simple and indeed very slow, there are no major subplots as the main plot in itself is heart rending and superior to many films that have come till then. In an age, where superstars were being made, and Amitabh Bachhhan was transformed as Angry Young Man, this film silently made its way into the public with a limited released and later on with the word of mouth. All because of many good traits that the film possesses.
Shyam Benegal, who is now considered as a father of Parallel Cinema, wrote this long back and had to go to struggle to a lot to get this made. All this was done with a meagre budget and the product that was obtained out of the hard work is a stand-out even today. Ankur is a pioneer and has it's moments of greatness considering the time, it was made. Subsequently, even Shyam Benegal was revered as a great film maker as many more wonderful films came from him.
Now, today when I saw it, it felt a bit anachronistic and antiquated coz I do not see such kind of vulgar oppression anywhere now, may be there is but it's not reported or it's not there any more. Having said that, the emotions are universal and the feeling of being oppressed, the helplessness, the hopes that are there for well being and then a revolution being sparked. All this is put wonderfully. The last shot where a boy throws a stone at the Zamindar's house is of great symbolism and portrays a feeling that echoes with the poor who keep the poor as poor.
The acting was superb, Shabana Azmi was a revelation and a blessed actor and we were grateful to have firstly and also grateful for makers to give her ample opportunities that helped her showcase her talent with an array of emotions. Thanks to Benegal to have found her and given Shabana to us.
It needs applause in many areas, firstly for starting a kind of cinematic revolution in India. Yet, my only crib is the editing, I wish the film could have been slicker with sharp editing. It would have added to the pace and helped the new-age viewers like me.
I am going with 4/5. It's a kind of film that's strong in social issues. But it's a laid back film that makes us recede in time. So just be warned of the pace coz it's a great film.