The movie begins with B.V. Pradhan (Anupam Kher) waking up early in the morning to write a letter to his son, Ajay, who lives in New York. Midway through the letter, Pradhan remembers the tragic reality: Pradhan received a call from a friend of his son, Ajay, that Ajay has been killed in a muggingin New York. Pradhan's best friend, Vishwanath, and Pradhan's wife, Parvati (Rohini Hattangadi) are both worried that even though it's been 3 months, Pradhan has yet to fully come to terms with the loss of his only son. Pradhan confesses to Vishwanath that after the loss of his son, he no longer has any will left to live. He tries to commit suicide by diving under a speeding car, albeit unsuccessfully.
Due to the death of their son, Pradhan has no source of income, so they rent out a room of their Shivaji Park (Mumbai) apartment to a budding Bollywood actress, Sujata Suman (Soni Razdan). Sujata is romantically involved with Vilas (Madan Jain), the only son of an influential politician Gajanan Chitre (Nilu Phule). Vilas wishes to marry Sujata, but he does not tell his father about Sujata out of cowardice and keeps on postponing their marriage plans.
Meanwhile, Pradhan receives a registered letter that his son's ashes and a few other belongings (a TV, VCR, a refrigerator etc.) have arrived from USA to India. When Pradhan goes to the customs office to collect them, he is disrespected and gets no help from the Public Relations Officer. An emotionally disturbed and enraged Pradhan forcibly enters the office of the main head of the customs department and explains that he has come only to pick up his son's ashes and not any other material possessions. Pradhan demands that his son's ashes be handed to him immediately and breaks down to tears, upon which the officer consoles Pradhan and relents to his request. The officer apologises for the inconvenience and assures Pradhan that the remaining items will be transferred to Pradhan as soon as possible.
Pradhan, an atheist, gives his son's ashes to Parvati, who takes his ashes to a Pandit (Alok Nath). The Pandit tells Pradhan and Parvati that Ajay will soon be reincarnated, in the form of a baby, near them. Disillusioned, Pradhan takes some of Ajay's ashes and spreads them near a park bench in the nearby kids park. Realising the futility of his painful life, Pradhan tries to commit suicide by ingesting liquid poison. Parvati implores him to change his mind, but Pradhan does not relent. Finally, they both decide to end their lives by consuming poison together.
Just as Pradhan and Parvati are about to commit suicide, Sujata informs Vilas that she's pregnant. When Vilas still shows indecisiveness in marrying Sujata, she calls him a coward and throws him out. When Pradhan finds out, he offers to take Sujata to meet Gajanan with the hope that he will permit Sujata and Vilas to get married. When Vilas refuses to accept that Sujata is carrying his baby, Gajanan, despite knowing that Vilas is lying, refuses their proposal and threatens Pradhan and Sujata of dire consequences if Sujata does not abort the child and moves away to another town. However, Pradhan, out of principle, refuses to let a helpless Sujata leave and provides her a safe haven in his house. Parvati, upon hearing that Sujata is with a baby, starts believing that the baby in Sujata's womb is, in fact, going to be the reincarnation of Ajay. She starts caring for Sujata and her beliefs about Ajay being reincarnated get even more firmly entrenched in her mind.
Gajanan tries all the tricks of the trade to dissuade Sujata from having the baby: his goons to try to bribe Pradhan, they harass Pradhan by cutting off the electricity of his house and beat up Vishwanath (thereby preventing him from supplying milk to Pradhan's house) and his goons even throw ignited crackers into Pradhan's house. Gajanan himself persuades a local doctor to illegally carry out the abortion of Sujata's baby in his clinic (where Sujata is scheduled for a checkup). When all else fails, Gajanan, through Vilas (who is unaware of his father's intentions) traps Pradhan in a fake scam of aiding and abetting a prostitution ring (involving illegal marked bills). Pradhan tries to call the Commissioner of Police for help, but is prevented due to red-tapism. Exasperated, Pradhan storms into the Mantralaya, the office of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. The C.M. turns out to be one of Pradhan's former students, Shashikant. The C.M. immediately calls up the Commissioner of Police, the Remand Home where Sujata is being held in custody and demands Gajanan Chitre be produced to ensure that justice is rightfully served.
Pradhan realises that Parvati's adamant belief that Ajay will be reincarnated as Sujata's baby will cause problems to them and Sujata and Vilas, so he asks them both to leave the city in the wee hours of the night and go live their lives happily elsewhere. He gifts them Ajay's belongings that have finally been handed over to Pradhan by the customs office. Sujata, however, requests to see Parvati one last time. When Parvati refuses to let Vilas and Sujata leave, Pradhan controls her and makes them leave. Parvati is shocked and heartbroken, but Pradhan helps her realise that Ajay has passed away and will never come back. When Parvati says that they should both consume poison together, Pradhan refuses, saying that he has realised that the Saaransh of his life is in her beautiful wrinkles, and they have both done a good deed in helping Sujata's baby survive despite the problems she faced.
The movie ends with Pradhan taking Parvati for an early morning walk to the nearby kids park. There, they see that beautiful flowers have sprouted where Pradhan once scattered some of Ajay's ashes. Pradhan then tells Parvati that the real beauty of life is that we all are mortal, but life goes on.
- Genre: Romantic
- Runtime: 137 minutes
Saaransh (English: The Gist  ) is a 1984 Hindi drama film directed by Mahesh Bhatt and starring Anupam Kher, Rohini Hattangadi, Madan Jain, Nilu Phule, Suhas Bhalekar and Soni Razdan. It is about an elderly Maharashtrian couple living in Mumbai who come to terms with the loss of their only son. This was the screen debut of Anupam Kher. The film had music by Ajit Verman and lyrics by Vasant Dev. It was distributed by Rajshri Productions.