“Aandhi” is a short-lived and localized weather phenomenon that develops over the plains of north and northwest India in the summer months of March, April and June. These are the driest months of the year, in between the winter rains which are over and the southwest monsoon which is yet to come. The soil particles become loose, and the first thunderstorms result in throwing up enormous amounts of dust and sand into the air. There is not much of rain, as the rain drops get evaporated on their way before they can reach the ground. The result is a dust storm known locally in Hindi as “Aandhi”.

Over Rajasthan, some convective dust storms can be so intense that dust walls may be created even 30 km away from the main thunderstorm. Even when the storm has ended, the dust may remain suspended in the atmosphere for quite some time, produce haze and reduce visibility.

An Hindi film entitled “Aandhi” was released in early 1975. Directed by Gulzar, the film had powerful and sensitive performances by Suchitra Sen and Sanjeev Kumar. The music was given by R. D. Burman and the lyrics were Gulzar’s own. Three of the songs became the most popular, “Is mod pe jaate hain”, “Tum aa gaye ho noor aa gaya hain”, “Tere bina zindagi se koi shikawa to nahin”.

The film “Aandhi” has almost nothing to do with the meteorological phenomenon after which it is named. The story is about Arti Devi (Suchitra Sen), who is torn between her ambitious father (Rehman) who wants her to have a political career, and husband J. K. (Sanjeev Kumar) who is content with his job as a hotel manager and wants her to live as a simple housewife. Arti Devi opts for politics, and they separate. After nine years, they happen to meet again when Arti Devi who is on an election campaign, comes to stay as a guest in J. K.’s hotel.

The story had an unwitting similarity with the lives of known personalities and the film was even put under a temporary ban after its release.

“Aandhi” is set against the background of election rallies, political maneuvering, mud slinging, physical assault and all that goes on behind the scenes in an election. But amidst all this, Arti Devi and J. K. also take the opportunity to rediscover themselves and realign their relationships.

“Aandhi” is basically about stormy politics, but it is perhaps more about weathering the storms of life.

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