By: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM
Friday, August 31, 2007
Powerful. Thought-provoking. Disturbing. That sums up Dhoka, directed by Pooja Bhatt.
After attempting Paap and Holiday, Pooja charters into a new -- and most difficult -- terrain with Dhoka. With terrorism raising its ugly head in Hyderabad recently, a film like Dhoka is all the more topical. In this case, the suicide bomber is the cop's wife. Whew, piping hot stuff indeed!
What sets Dhoka apart from films of its ilk is that the film never takes sides. It doesn't blame any particular community, in fact it's not pro or anti any religion. It blames the people who spread terror in the name of religion. Also, it denounces terrorism in very clear words. Dhoka hits where it hurts. You want to know the reason why people turn into jehadis. Dhoka probes into the issue and provides the answers.
To sum up, Dhoka is one of the finest and powerful films to come out of the Bhatt camp. This one dares to unruffle a few feathers!
Zaid [Muzamil Ibrahim] is a Muslim police officer in Mumbai. On the night of a deadly bombing at the New Century Club, he works tirelessly to help the shocked and shattered patients brought to the hospital. But this night of turmoil and death takes a horrifying personal turn. His wife's body, the beautiful Sara [Tulip Joshi], is found amongst the dead. Things turn even more horrific when the police coldly announce that Sara's injuries were typical of those found on fundamentalist suicide bombers.
As evidence mounts that his wife, Sara, was responsible for the catastrophic bombing, Zaid is torn between cherished memories of their years together and the inescapable realization that the beautiful woman he loved had a life far removed from their comfortable existence together. Dhoka is two creative minds at their best -- director Pooja Bhatt and writer Shagufta Rafique. Sure, a film like this is not everyone's idea of entertainment, but let's get real. Cinema isn't only entertainment, but enlightenment. With terrorism raising its ugly head time and again, in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, New York and London, you cannot shut your eyes to all that's happening around us.
Dhoka tells the story well. The director and her competent writer open the cards at the very outset, within 10 minutes of the start. But it's the second hour that's a complete eye-opener. The ugly past, narrated by Anupam Kher, shakes you completely. Brilliantly penned and executed, you're stunned by the atrocities committed by the men in uniform.
The writing wobbles at times. Take the end, for instance. Ashutosh Rana getting caught for his misdeeds looks too sudden. Prior to that, the confrontation between Munish Makhija and Muzamil, although interesting, is long-drawn and tends to get preachy. However, the climax at a Mumbai Railway Station -- the culmination to the horrific tale -- is spell-binding.
Dhoka is Pooja's third and also her finest work so far. She has handled the disturbing issue with utmost maturity. Shagufta Rafique's writing packs a solid punch. Music [M.M. Kreem] is soothing and the best part is, it's smartly woven in the narrative. Anshuman Mahaley's cinematography is topnotch.
Muzamil Ibrahim is a discovery to watch. Sure, there're rough edges [at times] that he needs to work on, but considering it's his debut film, he pitches in an incredible performance. A real surprise, a pleasant surprise! Tulip Joshi looks gorgeous and although she hardly has any lines to deliver, she makes it up with the right expressions.
Anupam Kher is first-rate. Only a veteran with a terrific range could've essayed the part with such understanding. Gulshan Grover is perfect. He looks the character. Ashutosh Rana is menacing; very effective. The actor enacting the role of Tulip's brother is good. Bhanu Uday is admirable. Aushima Sawhney does a fine job. Anupam Shyam is alright. Munish Makhija is competent.
On the whole, Dhoka is a well-made film. At the box-office, it's for multiplexes of big centres mainly.