DOR : Shades of feminism
This film comes from the Kukunoor-ian stable, most famous for low-budget hits like “Hyderabad Blues”, and most recently “Iqbal”. The film is woman-oriented in that it portrays the plight of young widows in modern day rural India, and explores ways of empowering them (well just one of them here, but still). The story unfolds at a slow pace, peppered with nice, simple but touching vignettes.
Zeenat (Gul) is an independent young Himachali woman married to Amir, who’s working in Saudi Arabia. Mira (Takia) is a young Rajput-ian bride, living in her in-laws orthodox home as her husband Shankar earns a living in Saudi Arabia also. Shankar and Amir are apparently friends in Saudi Arabia, but tragedy strikes as Shanker is accidentally killed by Amir. While Meera is buried under sorrow and the weight of traditional customs which deprive a widow of her ornaments, good food or any such luxuries, Zeenat must find a way of rescuing Amir from the death penalty imposed on him. The only way it seems is to get a signed pardon (maafi-naama) from Shanker’s widow. For that Zeenat sets out for Rajasthan, armed only with a photo, to search out Shanker’s widow and obtain from her, her only hope for Amir’s life . . .
I was much impressed by the local scenery of Rajasthan as well as Himachal, as shown in the film. Breath-takingly beautiful. The blue houses were a nice eye-popping color, and the artwork outside Rajasthani homes was gorgeous. The story is interesting, although it does have parts which seems theatrical and made-for-reel-life. Direction is good, and Kukunoor paces his story well, keeping one interested. The characters are well sketched and believable. The dialogues reflect much of the local flavor, and at times discuss feminism and the plight of women. There is only one song (a beautiful retake on the old “Kesariya balam”), which plays back in refrains.
While Ayesha Takia does a surprisingly good job as Meera – the coy smile, the innocence, and later the anger and sorrow are convincing, Panag appears emotionless by comparison. This might be the director’s doing in wanting to make her appear calm and collected in the most stressful situations, however IMO, some feeling is necessary to gain viewer sympathy. Veteran actor Karnad appears as Mira’s patriarchal father-in-law and is superb; if only we had more actors like him. Shreyas Talpade as good-hearted Bahrupiya, is good, effortless in his buffoonery (all that mimicry suits him no end), and believable in serious parts. Actors playing minor roles, such as Amir’s or Shanker’s are very good too.
This is a nice film, and a welcome break from all the other crap objectifying women. If you want a good, clean film strong on content, this one’s for you.